A Design Competition in Sonoma

The little city of Sebastopol, Calif. (pop. 7,700), an early 19th-century agricultural village named for its Russian counterpart on the Black Sea, is seeking a new vision for the 21st-century.

The Core Project is an international design competition aimed at generating renewal for the city’s downtown, an hour north of San Francisco and ten minutes from the coast.

The competition is hosted by The City of Sebastopol, with The Redwood Empire Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and a group of local business sponsors.

“We’re looking for design ideas for the decision-making process,” says Sebastopol architect Paul Fritz.  “When it’s over, we’ll have some community meetings, look at the competition entries and ask if any of these speak to us.  If so, then we’ll implement them.  We’ll want to galvanize the forum with ideas and make them happen.”

The Core Project challenges entrants to envision the best use for certain strategic sites in downtown Sebastopol currently used as surface parking lots. “Parking is a perceived issue by the merchants,” he says.  “It’s there, but people don’t want to walk a block to get where they’re going.  If a garage could concentrate the solution, that could work.

The competition is juried and cash prizes will be awarded. A minimum of $500 in cash prizes is planned, with the total amount subject to the number of entries received.  A public exhibition and online publication will display top award winners.

The registration period is August 29 through January 20, 2012. The submission deadline is February 3, 2012 by 5 p.m. PST.  Winners will be announced February 12, 2012.

International entrants from diverse disciplines including student and professional architects, landscape architects, developers, engineers, urban planners, transportation planners, and artists are invited to participate. Multidisciplinary and collaborative design teams are strongly encouraged.

“It could be either an architecture or urban design solution,” Fritz says of the winning solution.  “Or, it could be traffic engineering, landscape design or streetscape solution.”

For more information, visit www.the-core-project.org.

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