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Opportunity Space calls for multidisciplinary teams to bring design thinking to bear on both the built environment and social programs in order to achieve the following: New York City's Van Alen Institute have announced four new members—Haptic Architects, Mecanoo, Studio Libeskind, and Trahan Architects—to their International Council, a platform for exchange among leading architects, designers, developers, and planners.

Furthermore, Jing Liu (SO–IL), Kim Herforth Nielsen (3XN), and Raymond Quinn (Arup) have joined its board of trustees to help guide the organisation's cross-disciplinary research, provocative public programs, and design competitions.

More than a decade after Hurricane Katrina–and after decades of dwindling population even before the storm–New Orleans is filled with empty houses and vacant lots.

Last summer, the city started auctioning off hundreds of those lots online.

Governments, philanthropies, advocacy organizations, developers, and even celebrities are offering ever-larger awards and visibility for buildings, landscapes, and products, as well as for solutions to complex economic, social, and ecological problems.

Competitions can mobilize thousands of talented people across disciplines to creatively tackle pressing challenges in publicized—if not public— settings.


Severance and Van Alen continued to practice on their own in New York, but Van Alen found it difficult to obtain large commissions and sustained his office with smaller commissions.But what we discovered is that the types of businesses that those folks could work in, needed lots of a particular size that weren’t available in the city of New Orleans.In other words, all those little lots were too small.”Bundled together, a group of vacant lots could suddenly work as a business.But now the city is rethinking its approach to vacant land.

In a design competition called Future Ground, held by the design nonprofit Van Alen Institute and the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, three teams each spent six months coming up with new ways New Orleans can deal with blight.One key insight: Selling off lots one by one probably doesn’t make as much sense as thinking of vacant land on a larger scale, with bigger social, environmental, and economic opportunities.


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