Announcements 08.27.2020

Vancouver Studio Designers Win Award in 2020 Global Design Competition

Vancouver Designers Imagine Affordable Co-Living in New York’s Desirable West Village

VANCOUVER, British Columbia—A plan created by Vancouver designers to transform a site in New York’s desirable West Village into an affordable co-living multi-family residence was selected as a winning entry in our 2020 Phil Freelon Design Competition, an annual firmwide event that elevates our design culture and attracts participants from Perkins and Will studios around the world. Jurors reviewed 68 design submissions among emerging talent across the firm’s 25 studios.

Pivot” received a Merit Award for its flexible, modular design for co-living that provides a choice of living spaces along a public to private spectrum, and pairs complimentary lifestyles with shared resources. In conjunction with an interactive digital platform, this new approach empowers residents to share comfortably and gradually, opening the door to co-living to people of diverse backgrounds and life circumstances.

“I like the concept that the spaces are modular and can be used part-time by people,” said Rebecca Rudolph, one of five independent jurors of the competition. “Even during different hours of the day, it acknowledges that people have different rhythms and ways of living.”

"Pivot," designed by Mahdiar Ghaffarian, Hannah Gibson, Alyssa Quiring and Rick Browner

Representing the studio’s strong design culture and dedication to fostering the next generation of innovative thinkers, a total of four teams from the firm’s Vancouver studio submitted entries into the 3-day competition. Each entry has a different approach to addressing housing affordability through a co-living model, and is a testament to their commitment to making a positive impact in our communities.

“We wanted to create a design that would not only fit New York, but could be adopted by other cities around the world,” says Hannah Gibson, one of Pivot’s designers. “Other than affordability, there is great opportunity for human connection and creating spaces that encourage mutual cooperation.”

The four Vancouver studio design submissions include:

  • “Pivot”, created by Mahdiar Ghaffarian, Hannah Gibson, Alyssa Quiring and Rick Browner (Merit Award)
  • “The Grove”, created by Bojana Jerinic, Aidan Carruthers, Rufina Wu, and Elsa Snyder (finalist)
  • “Beelive”, created by Yalda Amin-Shahidi, Maryam Ahmadi, and Laurence Renard
  • “ARK”, created by Raana Dorneshan, Ivana Nikolic, and Mohamed Imam

The Design Challenge: Co-Living

The annual Perkins and Will design competition, formerly known as the Design Leadership Council (DLC) Design Competition, was renamed in 2019 after our beloved late colleague Phil Freelon—a lifelong champion of architecture that honours humanity. This year’s challenge addressed the dire need for affordable housing—a growing humanitarian crisis in cities across North America.

“Innovative ways to deliver quality housing that is both affordable and socially connected is needed in Vancouver and many cities today,” says Adrian Watson, design director and principal at Perkins and Will’s Vancouver studio. “Leveraging the rich design talent of our studio, we can find creative ways to improve urban living.”

The concept of co-living is being reimagined in our growing technological age as a solution to address high costs of living. It also accommodates a desire for greater flexibility among temporary and permanent urban residents. To contribute to the value of this emerging industry, sixty-eight design teams from around the firm accepted the challenge to create an affordable co-living concept that incorporates a shared economy, social networking, collaboration, and increased density. Economic inclusion, equity, well-being, and resilience were key design criteria.

Teams were free to choose from one of three real-life sites: an industrial building New York City’s West Village neighbourhood; a vacant asphalt lot in the historic Lodo area in Denver; and an industrial warehouse in downtown Los Angeles’s arts district. In addition to addressing unique site-based challenges, such as adaptively reusing existing infrastructure, the teams also had to consider ways to handle geographically specific environmental challenges, including sea level rise, flooding, and extreme drought. Teams had four days to conceptualize, visualize, and finalize their proposals. Then, a distinguished panel of jurors from outside Perkins and Will assessed each submission and selected the winners.

“Beelive”, created by Yalda Amin-Shahidi, Maryam Ahmadi, and Laurence Renard
“The Grove”, created by Bojana Jerinic, Aidan Carruthers, Rufina Wu, and Elsa Snyder (finalist)

A Long-Standing Tradition of Design Excellence

At its most basic level, the Phil Freelon Design Competition is a friendly firmwide contest that fuels creativity and collaboration. More importantly, though, it’s a critical part of our firm’s culture of innovation and design excellence: It dares our staff to dream big, to get comfortable with the uncomfortable, to think outside the lines.

“For 17 years, teams around the world have invested enormous amounts of passion and creative thought into our annual design competition,” says Design Leadership Council Director Casey Jones. “It’s one of the hallmarks of our firm’s design culture, which is rooted in purpose, curiosity, research, and innovation. The fact that we had 68 teams participate this year—a record number—really testifies to our commitment to excellence.”

To view all the submissions and learn more about the design challenge, visit our Phil Freelon Design Competition website.