There is a void in downtown Lexington, and on Saturday, June 1, the public will have an opportunity to witness local designers competing in real time to fill that void. The Design Slam, sponsored by the American Institute of Architects East Kentucky Chapter (AIA EKC) and Fayette Alliance, will feature teams from five architecture firms navigating through the process of designing a downtown Lexington space in one hour. The goal is to win the most audience votes.
The Design Slam will start on a level playing field, with the teams only knowing that the location is 137 Main St., across from the proposed CentrePointe site. The building program, including the type of building and the purpose it will serve, will be announced to the teams and the audience when the Design Slam begins.
Over the next hour, projection screens in the West 6th Brewing beer garden will display each step of the creative process, allowing the audience to witness the formation of design from start to finish. Audience members will see cutting-edge technology as teams use the latest in three-dimensional modeling and rendering software to develop their ideas.
Each team will have six minutes to present its work. The designs are hypothetical, with no plans to construct the winning design. West 6th beer will be on tap and food trucks will be on location. Griffin VanMeter from Kentucky for Kentucky will serve as emcee.
The event begins at 5 p.m. and is free, although a $5 donation is suggested. The first 200 guests will receive a Design Slam pint glass. All guests will receive an AIA EKC 50/50 sketchbook and a ticket to vote for their favorite design. Additional tickets can be purchased for $1.
Proceeds benefit Lexington Habitat for Humanity — celebrating the 25th Anniversary of its first home dedication, AIA EKC and Fayette Alliance. According to Megan Meserve, Lexington Habitat for Humanity’s resource development coordinator, “The Design Slam will help draw attention to the need for affordable housing in our community. Monetary donations from this event will help us partner with 16 families in
2013 so they may achieve affordable homeownership.”
Daniel O. Ware, AIA EKC president, saw his first Design Slam during the AIA Regional Convention in Lexington last fall.
“It was incredible to witness the energy as teams from Kentucky and Indiana generated designs,” he said. “The Design Slam is exciting because it’s such an accelerated process. It can take months to design a building. We’re challenging teams to do that in an hour. I realized this was an opportunity for AIA EKC to show the public what architecture is about in an entertaining and energetic competition.”
With approximately 255 members, the AIA EKC represents 60 eastern Kentucky counties, serving as the voice of the architectural profession and a resource for members.
“Our chapter is focused on promoting the profession of architecture, advancing the standards of architectural education, advancing the living standards of people through their improved environment and increasing our service to society,” Ware said.
“For this event, AIA EKC expanded our reach by partnering with Fayette Alliance, an organization with an active membership also interested in the design of redevelopment,” said Ben Simmons, AIA EKC director of community outreach.
Though not identical, the AIA EKC and Fayette Alliance share common interests. A coalition of citizens dedicated to achieving sustainable growth in Lexington-Fayette County through land-use advocacy, education and promotion, Fayette Alliance serves as a voice for sustainable growth.
There are more than 12,000 acres of underused and blighted land inside the city for potential redevelopment.
“When we were approached by AIA EKC, we felt the Design Slam was a chance to highlight sustainable growth,” said Knox van Nagell, Fayette Alliance executive director. “The focus of this particular event is redevelopment, which is part of Lexington’s ongoing renaissance.”
West 6th Brewing is a successful example of that renaissance. The former Rainbo Bread bakery is now a thriving business devoted to helping the community.
“West 6th emulates what the Design Slam is all about,” said van Nagell. “It’s an incredible urban space brought to life with investment and design.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing how the public views architecture, the spectacle of design,” said Ware. “What attracts people to design and what do people find exciting about design?”
People are inspired by design and creativity in Lexington, said van Nagell.
At the Design Slam, Lexington’s design talent and creativity will be represented by Matthew Brooks from Alt 32 with Michael Neureither and Greg Hosfield from Ross Tarrant Architects; Michael Gillette, Beth Hunter and Brandon Spencer from Ross Tarrant Architects; Chiharu Kono and Shylo Shepherd from Sherman Carter Barnhardt, PSC; Jon Cheatham and Maria Gillette from Murphy + Graves Architects; and Josh Duddey, Ian McHone and Magda Wala from EOP Architects.
“Everyone experiences architecture on some level,” Simmons said. “We live and work in buildings, we walk through and around them. But very few people understand the process of design. At this event, the audience will hear the back and forth of design negotiation. The Design Slam is about allowing the public to experience that conversation.”