Challenging students to transform space into place
Imagine an empty square resting between two centers of creative development and reflection. A square that could become virtually anything, yet currently exists as practically nothing.
This could describe the square brick patio positioned between the Art Building and the Design South Building on the northwest side of Arizona State University's Tempe campus.
“It’s a blank space between these two buildings that’s waiting to be activated,” says Adriene Jenik, the director of the Herberger Institute School of Art. “We want to enhance campus creativity by taking what is happening inside our buildings outside.”
To invigorate this place, the Herberger Institute’s Schools of Art and Architecture + Landscape Architecture conceived X-square, a new annual student project competition. Herberger students will be challenged to create a unique public space that will be constructed to attract people and programming over a nine-month installation.
Each transdisciplinary student team is required to include an art student, an architecture + landscape architecture student and at least one student from one of the other institute’s schools. Teams also need to secure a faculty adviser from any school within the institute. The deadline for team submissions is Dec. 7.
X-square was introduced to students at a presentation Oct. 14, on the brick plaza. The presentation included examples of other similar projects as well as a screening of William H. Whyte’s film “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces.”
“This challenge hits so many initiatives across the university,” says Darren Petrucci, the director of the Herberger Institute School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture. “Teams will be able to integrate sustainability, the creation of a vibrant community, and the opportunity to showcase the amazing student and faculty work that touches on human rights, education, personal understanding and human health conditions.”
Jenik is equally intrigued by the potential human reactions and interactions that the new space could create.
“It will be fascinating to observe what rituals develop both within and from this place,” Jenik says.
X-square, based on model programs such as the Young Architect’s Program at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island, N.Y., will be the first project-based effort between Herberger Institute schools since the institute’s inception.
“The boundaries between architecture, art and design are blurring more than ever,” Jenik says. “This institute will be able to foster these kinds of transdisciplinary partnerships in ways that the separate colleges could not.”
Petrucci also sees opportunity beyond the campus.
“X-square is about capturing a moment of public space and pedestrian interaction,” Petrucci says. “The university could become a paradigm for urban development to the city.”
For more information on the X-square competition, visit the online X-square Facebook page: www.facebook.com/x.square.