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News > Equity + Justice > 2023 Edmund N. Bacon Student Urban Design Competition Brief Launches

2023 Edmund N. Bacon Student Urban Design Competition Brief Launches

The annual international student design competition is back with a new focus on helping students explore their own cultural competency when engaging community members in design work.
1 Jul 2022
Written by Rebecca Johnson
United States of America
Equity + Justice

After taking a year pause for a strategic rethink, the annual international student design competition is back. This competition is an ideas competition – we want our teams to be as creative as possible – but we also want the students participating in this competition to navigate the nuanced, complicated, contradictory, and paramount concerns of the key stakeholders in every project. Through this competition we want to encourage design students to truly explore the hard work that equitable development requires. It is imperative that future designers, architects, and planners understand social equity in a variety of contexts. This process begins internally, by examining our own biases. Then, and only then, we can begin to understand how those biases shape our interactions with the communities we serve. In the past, our inability to engage this self-awareness process has levied a toll on local communities who seek our expertise, but also our empathy. Therefore, the competition will now require attendance at the Workshop on Culturally Competent Community Engagement this September, which will share conflicting and divergent views from community stakeholders. 

In addition to the Workshop, students are now prohibited from contacting any community members or stakeholders. Because this is an ideas competition — not something that will lead to an actual project, it is imperative to not unnecessarily extract expertise and experiences from community members without much of a return on their investment of time. The Competition Brief, now live on the Center's website, has curated resources for the students to base their assumptions for the competition. The Brief, in combination with the September workshop, will hopefully deepen the students' understanding and respect for the importance of quality community engagement.

This year's competition focuses on the roughly 50-acre area in Chinatown and Chinatown North where there are several parking lots, as well as multi-lane streets and highways cutting pedestrians off from segments of the neighborhood (“Competition Site”). The Competition Site is in Center City Philadelphia and abuts one of William Penn’s “four squares” in the original grid plan for Philadelphia. This neighborhood is the home of a large Asian immigrant population, but it is also the cultural hub for Asian families who live outside of the neighborhood. The community has a strong, impactful, and progressive organization called the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation which has led community planning efforts, redevelopment, and economic development in this community. The Competition Brief frames its prompts for the students based on the most recent effort was the policy paper called “Chinatown Future Histories: Public Spaces and Equitable Development in Philadelphia Chinatown. (July 2020).

Important Dates

July 01, 2022: Competition Brief Launches

September 2022: Workshop on Culturally Competent Community Engagement

December 15, 2022: Deadline for questions

January 31, 2023: Final date to submit entries

March or April 2023 (date TBD): Awards Ceremony in Philadelphia

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