Five Day Design Challenge hopes to spur visionary public transit ideas

Michael Schuster Associates (MSA) is looking for a work week’s worth of revolutionary thinking. The Cincinnati-based architecture firm is sponsoring the 2011 Five Day Design Challenge, a competition calling on local and international thinkers from any discipline to generate ideas for solving real challenges facing Cincinnati and other mid-sized U.S. cities.

Dave Schuster, Visual Media Director at MSA, felt that the time was right for a deeper look at transit in Cincinnati. “We decided to focus the FIVE Competition on transportation this year because it’s very pertinent to the current social climate of the city,” Schuster explained.

“2010 saw an incredible amount of debate regarding the 3C line, the widening of I-75, the streetcar project, and more. With new development happening in The Banks, the casino and numerous projects in between, strengthening connectivity to and within the city will be essential to the long term growth of Cincinnati. Not only that, but with issues in pollution and global warming and the heavy costs associated with commuting, creating a more robust transportation network will be a great asset to the city now and in the future.”

On Feburary 3, 2011, MSA will release the full details of the project brief and all applicants will then have exactly five days to solve the problem given to them. Context information relevant to the specific challenge will be released before, but releasing details too early would spoil the fun.

This year’s design theme revolves around public transportation and infrastructure. There is sufficient evidence concluding that designing roadways to add more cars and lanes only encourages traffic congestion, which in turn encourages more sprawl, increased obesity, stress, commute times, isolationism and dependence on foreign oil.

Multi-disciplinary teams of designers are encouraged to sign up for the competition. Registration fees are only $40 and is ongoing through February 4. The jury committee consists of Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, Cincinnati Art Museum Director Aaron Betsky, local architect Michael Schuster, transit guru John Schneider, and Michael Moore, Director of the City of Cincinnati Transportation and Engineering Office. Together this panel will choose the top five winning designs, who will receive a total of $5,555 in prize money.

“We hope that the competition will raise an awareness and excitement about transportation problems within Cincinnati,” said Schuster. “By asking the question, ‘Can better design help public transportation?’ we will begin to see an emergence of ideas that have the problem solving potential to shape and define Cincinnati in a positive and creative way.”

  • Nate

    40 dollars to register? That’s ridiculous.

    They just blocked out every single college student in the city. So much for young designers!
    That doesn’t look like innovation from where I’m standing. :-/

    Good idea, but seriously, 40 dollars?

  • If you have a team of 5, that’s only 8 dollars a person to register. Even a team of 3 knocks the price down to under 15 dollars. Sounds pretty accessible to me.

  • JustinBlaze

    I’ll fork over a couple bucks to be involved in this competition. We’ve been forming a team for the past week since I saw it posted in DAAP. I’m very interested in the city and particularly it’s transportation issues. Only complaint is I wish it didn’t fall in the later-half of winter quarter but I can spare some design hours. Plus a project like this will look amazing in my architecture portfolio.

  • Nate

    The amount of money they’ll make from registration will surely be negligible. It doesn’t seem like a good idea to erect barriers to creative people solving the cities problems for them for nominal if any reward.

    Ultimately, it’s a bad gesture. They’re not open to new ideas if we have to pay for them to listen.

  • James

    Nate, I’ve been involved in a number of competitions from both an organizational standpoint and as that of an entrant. Forty dollars in my book isn’t at all unreasonable considering the costs that go into putting something like this together, marketing the campaign, supplying the judges panel with an event/compensation for their time, and of course, the prize payout. I’ll definitely be signing up for this. Cool project for a great city. Win win in my book. And I agree with Justin- great portfolio piece none the less.

  • Robert Croswell

    Since the winners’ proposals will be both varied and provocative, hopefully the city will share them with the public, whether over the Internet or through print. Many of us would love to see these designs, and a nominal price for a brochure, etc., would be reasonable.

  • Rachel

    I’m pretty cool with idea that I can pay $40, design something that might actually be implemented in the city AND win $2,500. Even if I don’t win, my design is out there to help improve the city as soon as the government decides its ready to step it up. I’m definitely ok with that. It’s not a barrier, skip buying 8 lattes and instead get a team together and it’s an opportunity to improve your environment.