2015 Better Philadelphia Challenge Winners Announced

December 10, 2014 | Design Competitions, Center News

The 2015 Better Philadelphia Challenge

Founded in 2006 in memory of Philadelphia’s iconic 20th century city planner, Ed Bacon [1910-2005], The Better Philadelphia Challenge is an annual international competition presented by the Center for Architecture. The competition challenges university-level students from around the world to address real-world urban design issues in Philadelphia that have application not only to our city, but to urban centers around the globe. Conducted every October, the competition is open to undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students in any field of study; the most successful entries tend to come from teams which include students from a range of majors, including architecture, urban planning, design, landscape architecture, business, political science, and others.

The 2015 Better Philadelphia Challenge jury charged with this year’s selection included Thomas Corcoran of Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, Rebecca Johnson of CFA and AIA Philadelphia, Barry Seymour of Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, and Stephanie Shaw of The Trust for Governors Island, NY. They reviewed a total of 26 entries from 17 different schools in 11 states and 4 countries (including Russia, Germany, and the United Kingdom) submitted proposals that reimagined how Petty Island - an uninhabited, 292-acre island located in the Delaware River between Philadelphia and Camden, NJ currently used as a storage site for petroleum tanks and cargo containers - could be developed as a 21st century recreation complex suited to today's needs and economic/environmental realites.

And the winner is...

Delaware Valley FOODWORX | Cornell University

Team: Akshali Gandhi, Robert Hanifin, Li-Yu Pan, Chen Sun, & Lishutong Zhang

The Delaware Valley FOODWORX initiative is a multiphase approach to addressing the growing food scarcity issues facing the Philadelphia region. Serving as a catalyst for sustainable, innovative, and long-lasting growth, the proposal promises current and future generations access to sustenance and opportunities. Serving as a catalyst for sustainable, innovative, and long-lasting growth, the proposal includes the creation of an agricultural college, seed bank, sky farm, discovery center, and farmers market on the island while upgrading the Philadelphia riverfront with food distribution warehouses, marina, common buildings, and recreational fields. Reasserting the ecological and economic importance of Petty Island and the Delaware River through creative programming and uses, FOODWORX imagines a self-sufficient and prepared Philadelphia over the course of the next 100 years.

Contemporary and future issues such as the hunger crisis, economic development, climate change, and resiliency are tackled through a proactive four phase approach that balances the needs of people and wildlife. Infrastructure improvements are combined with social investments to ensure a high quality of life in the Delaware Valley region moving forward. In the short term, Philadelphia and Camden are suffering from hunger crisis and ecological decay. In addition, the metro is losing adjacent agricultural lands to sprawl while the inner city continues to become abandoned (over 40,000 vacant properties!)

Addressing this issue from a social, environmental, and economic perspective created the primary objectives for the first phase of Delaware Valley FOODWORX. Nourishing the people and land is the primary objective of the 15 year first Phase I, while cultivation (of land and people) defines the second, 30 year phase. In the middle term, the need for food security arises. This is defined by the World Health Organization as availability, access, utilization, and stability to food sources. Cultivation of unused land and advocating best practices through education is an essential component. Similarly, the ability to nurture the earth and the people is achieved through the FOODWORX catalyst.

In this regard, Petty Island would serve as an incubator for the growing urban agriculture and sustainability movement. Model farms and learning demonstrations promise to aid neighboring communities (and the region) down a path to food security and self sufficiency. For the long term, the availability of food and protection from climate change is viewed as the ultimate challenge for sustaining today’s cities. Check out the slideshow above for detailed plans and more on the project.

Awards Ceremony

An awards ceremony, where the winning team will be presented with the first prize of $5000, will be held on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 from 6:30-8:30pm at Moore College of Art & Design. The evening will include a VIP reception, awards ceremony, and speech given by 2015 Bacon Prize honoree, Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. Dr. Rodin, former president of the University of Pennsylvania and provost of Yale University, has focused on helping people, communities, and institutions build greater resilience to everyday challenges in her work with the Rockefeller Foundation . Her talk will also feature ideas from her new book, The Resilience Dividend. The program concludes with a coffee and dessert reception. Click here to purchase tickets.

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