The New Jersey Chapter of AIA Announces Winners of "Live the Box: An International Design Competition" By Betsy Kraat
NEWARK-- With thousands of unwanted shipping containers clogging our ports and the land around them, the American Institute of Architects' Newark and Suburban Architects chapter challenged innovative designers to "re-invent the box" in the "Live the Box: An International Design Competition" by using shipping containers as the primary design element in urban, multi-family, mixed-use projects for Newark.
The designers were asked to use standard shipping containers as the main building blocks. The containers could be used in any configuration or quantity and in whole or in part. One hundred and fifty participants from 13 countries, including those as far away as Turkey, South Korea and Romania, and from 26 states responded to the first Web-only international design competition.
The proposed site was located at the tip of Newark's Central Ward, once known as the Central Business District, near Broad Street Station. The site, which is within walking distance of the downtown and major cultural centers, was originally home to a Westinghouse Electric Corp. facility, which has since been demolished.
The winners were announced at an awards ceremony held at the NJIT School of Architecture Gallery last month. The first prize of $10,000 went to Felix Heidgen and Thomas Nagy for their design of "NewPark Station." Both are associates at RMJM Architects in Princeton, though they worked independently of the firm on this project. Noting the many neighborhoods that make up Newark, Haidgen said their goal was to create a project celebrating the "community within the community." Second place of $7,000 went to Modulaire of Miami, FL, and third place of $3,000 to Tang & Yang Architects of Savannah, GA.
Moving beyond the boundaries of familiar urban architecture, the competitors stacked the multi-hued containers in imaginative designs that took advantage of the modular nature of the building material by creating repetitive themes. Many of the designs aimed to reflect the cultural diversity of the city. The desire of urban residents for green space and places to exercise was expressed in the incorporation recreational elements and rooftop gardens. Sustainable elements included solar panels,
wind turbines, rainwater harvesting and compost chambers.
Unlike most architectural competitions, the computer served not only as the drafting tool but the presentation tool as well. Without boards to embellish, designers had to translate the significance and power of their projects through the screen of a juror's laptop.
Juror Raymond Nadasky, FAIA, a principal of NK Architects in Morristown said he was excited to see competitors use the shipping containers as building blocks, much as traditional construction uses brick.
The competition was the brainchild of Christopher Stone, AIA, vice president of AIA Newark and Suburban Architects. The view from his window, he said, is of the containers near Newark Liberty International Airport, seemingly waiting to be used for a new purpose. The competition was a reflection of the mission of AIA Newark and Suburban, which for more than 100 years has worked to develop public awareness of the value of good design.
The competition was held in conjunction with NJIT and "platinum" sponsor, Skanska USA Building. Other sponsors included "platinum" sponsor, National Portable Storage Association (NPSA); "gold" sponsor, Feury Image Group; "silver" sponsors, Allied Building Products Corp., NK Architects and Palin-Westerhold Properties; "bronze" sponsor, Benjamin Moore & Co.; and "steel" sponsors Extech Building Supply and GRA Architects.
To view the entries on the Web, go to www.livethebox.org.