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Governor’s Island City of Dreams Pavilion Competition

20/01/2010 by architectural competitions

Since Governors Island first opened to the public in 2004, the attention and interest that this new public place has received has increased exponentially. In 2009, over 275,000 people visited the island through its summer season (late May to mid October) to engage in a variety of arts and cultural programs, as well as to enjoy summertime activities like picnicking and bike riding on the island.

FIGMENT, one of the island’s key cultural partners, has joined forces with The Emerging New York Architects Committee of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (ENYA) and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY) to sponsor a competition to design and construct an architectural pavilion for the 2010 summer season on Governors Island, the City of Dreams Pavilion.

The City of Dreams Pavilion will be a gathering place for people to meet, learn about the arts programs on the island, be able to enjoy a planned or impromptu performance or lecture, and experience the interaction of art and the historic context of Governors Island.

Our theme for the pavilion, the City of Dreams, points toward the future. If we imagine a future New York City where anything is possible, what would it look like? In our wildest and most optimistic dreams, what is the future of the city?

The current state of the world is such that both the economy and natural resources are limited in ways we have never experienced in our lifetimes. A new way of thinking is necessary to solve the problems that the world faces. Inevitably, the result will be a change in harmful habits that have driven the world to its current state. One place to start to activate and energize these changes in within the architecture and design community, where the movement toward sustainable design has only scratched the surface of what is possible and necessary.

Instead of a typical design competition, the City of Dreams Pavilion asks entrants to consider how they will construct this temporary structure in the most efficient and sustainable way possible. Entrants should consider the entire lifecycle of building materials in their submission. Whether they do this by identifying companies that produce “cradle to cradle” products, garnering sponsorships from environmental or socially conscious groups, or re-using waste from construction sites, the materials used and the construction process should have as little impact as possible on the environment.

Entrants should submit where their materials are to come from, how their structures will be transported to the site, how they will eliminate waste during construction, and how they plan to disassemble and reuse the materials after the island closes for the season. In other words, entrants are being asked to consider using “borrowed” materials—from existing construction sites and from places where the materials can be returned after the season is over and the temporary structure is disassembled.

In the end, the goal is to create a pavilion that has net zero impact and that serves as a prototype for a new, truly sustainable, way of thinking about design and construction.

Essential requirements of the proposal are as follows:

Create a gathering place for 50 or more people, providing shade and rain cover
Consider the full lifecycle of the materials used—where they come from and where they will go after the island closes for the 2010 season
Provide for the design and construction of the project, including sourcing all materials.
All materials must be able to be transported on the Coursen Ferry (12’6” clearance)
The structure must be freestanding, and cannot penetrate the ground to a depth greater than 6”
The design must be approved by the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC), the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), and the NYC Department of Buildings prior to construction
Include a budget that anticipates all costs of fabrication, transportation, installation, and de-installation

Optional considerations:

How will the pavilion support educating the public about arts programs on the island?
How will the pavilion support informal performances or lectures?
What other kinds of activities could take place in the pavilion?


Submissions open: January 1, 2010
Registration deadline: February 8, 2010
Deadline for entries: February 16, 2010
Notification of finalists, with comments: March 1, 2010
Finalist proposal revisions due: March 31, 2010
Selection of winner: April 15, 2010
Construction start: May 10, 2010
Construction completion: by June 5, 2010

Selection criteria that the jury will consider:

Proposal feasibility and buildability
Lifecycle considerations and overall environmental impact
Adherence to theme
Design impact
Innovative use of materials

To enter:

Register by February 8, 2010, by following the links below. The fee to enter is a tax deductible donation to FIGMENT, which will be applied to the costs of building and maintaining this project, as follows:
Student entries – $20
Individual entries – $50
Group entries – $80
Entries are encouraged from individuals or teams of architects and non-architects of any age or experience level, provided they are prepared to carry out the project. Attribution of the winner and finalists will be given based on the names of the individuals who enter, rather than to any firm with whom they are affiliated.

The final entry should be submitted via email by registered entrants by February 16, 2010, and should include a total of three (3) 11”x17” pages in PDF format. The first two (2) pages should detail the proposed design, and the third page should include supporting documentation such as materials, budget, construction schedule, etc. The entries should not disclose the names of the entrant(s) in the PDF file, only in the covering email.


  1. Jessica says:

    Please note that the competition deadlines should be in 2010 (not 2009)!

  2. WavaCEhle says:

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