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Gowanus by Design: WATER_WORKS
Register: Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Submit: Tuesday, January 08, 2013


Gowanus by Design envisions this competition as an opportunity to consider a new urban typology while focusing on our protean relationship with water. Fresh water accounts for about 2% of all the water on the planet and as the climate continues to change, clean water is becoming a critical commodity. Its availability is subject to the vagaries of extreme weather patterns, such as droughts, hurricanes, and warm winters. Many designers are now evaluating the “embodied water” in their projects and seeking solutions that minimize the use of fresh water in a building’s construction and operations.

Despite the impact of climate change and efforts by the environmental and design communities, access and use of fresh water is still largely assumed to be a right, rather than a privilege. To challenge these assumptions, the competition program deliberately places two disparate uses of water on the same site. At the canal, untreated sewage overflow at the pump station is a conduit for waste entering the local environment. At the park, filtered water from the upstate reservoir system fills a pool that supports recreation. By redirecting overflow to a retention tank where it will be stored during heavy weather events, the area in and around the park becomes an active participant in a water management solution that dramatically reduces the canal’s pollution.

Design entries should present site-specific solution(s) that simultaneously explore water’s role in recreation, quotidian uses, and in contaminated urban environments, and demonstrate how a redesigned community center and retention facility represent a more progressive view of our city's infrastructure. The jury will look for designs that explore these challenges and propose a stronger community node within an area that is slowly establishing its identity as a viable mixed-use urban neighborhood. 

The competition aims to attract the interest of a wide range of professionals and students (not just those within the architectural profession) on a local and international level.


Julie Bargmann, Founder and Principal, D.I.R.T. Studio

David J. Lewis, Founding Partner, LTL Architects

Richard Plunz, Professor, Columbia University GSAPP; Director, Urban Design Lab

Robert M. Rogers, Founding Partner, Rogers Marvel Architects

Andrew Simons, Chairman, Gowanus Conservancy

Joel Towers, Dean, Parsons The New School for Design


First Prize: $3,000

Second Prize: $1,000

Honorable Mentions: Up to six will be awarded at the discretion of the jury

In addition to the winners, a selected group of submissions will be displayed at the exhibit in early 2013.


Registration Deadline: November 12, 2012 (UPDATED!)

Questions Deadline: December 10, 2012 (UPDATED!)

Submission Deadline: January 7, 2013 (UPDATED!)

Jury Review: January 2013 (UPDATED!)

Entry Fees                      

$50 for students (verification required for all entries selected for exhibit) 

$75 for professionals



UPDATE: The deadlines have been extended.

Alexander Walter
Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Please note the updated registration deadline (November 12, 2012) and submission deadline (January 7, 2013).

Alexander Walter
Los Angeles, CA
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
From the competition organizers:

"Hurricane Sandy left a trail of devastation in New York City. Since this weather event put a spotlight on the need for better design along our city's vulnerable waterways, we are extending the registration period so prospective entrants can visit our website and learn more about the competition. Other milestone dates will remain the same."

The new registration deadline is now November 19, 2012.

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