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X-Square design winner unveiled at ribbon cutting event

September 04, 2012

The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University celebrates the installation of the winning X-Square competition design at a ribbon cutting ceremony at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 5, on Neeb Plaza on the ASU Tempe campus.

The winning design, "X-Scape," occupies a 35-foot-by-45-foot area of brickwork between The Design School and the School of Art. It was designed to create a multi-level and multi-purpose seating, lounging, gathering and performing space for the community. Boxed trees provide shade and natural plantings and artificial turf create an invitation to relax, visit or study.

Created by a student team of three designers, a fiber artist and a musician, "X-Scape" is the winner of the third annual X-Square competition. Student teams including at least one student from the School of Art, one from The Design School and one from one other school in the Herberger Institute compete to design a structure that not only enhances an otherwise pedestrian looking area of Neeb Plaza but that is also buildable, sustainable and within budget.

It’s this opportunity for sustainability that gave "X-Scape" an added boost in this year’s competition, according to Phoenix architect Will Bruder, one of the competition judges. The members of the "X-Scape" team wanted their design to be repurposed after its tenure on Neeb Plaza. They designed it to be disassembled and put back either all together or in segments.

“'X-Scape' has the potential of making a major contribution to the Valley's exciting conversation about temporary uses of empty lots,” said Bruder. “'X-Scape' will be a testing ground for the rethinking of how sustainable reuse of the urban landscape can enrich our communities.”

This year’s team members, Brett Berger, Diego Valencia and Aaron Choi from The Design School; Christine Phu from the School of Art and Kim Stevenson from the School of Music, working with faculty advisor Phil Horton from The Design School, spent much of the summer installing the structure, which will remain open throughout the academic year.

Also, as part of the ceremony Wednesday, the 2012-13 competition is announced by ASU School of Art Director and Professor Adriene Jenik and The Design School Director and Professor Craig Barton, who oversee and sponsor the X-Square annual design challenge,  and Herberger Institute Dean and Director Kwang-Wu Kim. Students are invited to form interdisciplinary teams, select a faculty advisor and begin their effort to design a structure that next fall could be installed on X-Square.

Last year’s winner, "Peritoneum," recently received the 2012 American Society of Landscape Architects Excellence Award for Student Collaboration. “This is the ultimate design competition for landscape architects for the U.S. and internationally,’’ said Joseph Ewan, assistant director of The Design School and associate professor of landscape architecture.

This recognition underscores the quality of work generated by Herberger Institute students through the X-Square competition, according to Ewan, who said one of the strengths of the X-Square competition is its interdisciplinary requirement that taps not only the design and art disciplines but also the institute’s other academic units: music; dance; arts, media + engineering; and theatre and film.

In the case of "Peritoneum," Ewan noted the influence of a dancer’s sensibilities and aesthetic in the sweeping movement and flow of the wooden structure’s design. He cites this element as an example of what intentional interdisciplinary collaboration can create and what made "Peritoneum" such a strong competitor and ultimate winner in the ASLA competition.

The X-Square competition also gives students the unprecedented experience of taking a project from concept and design through construction and installation, an opportunity even some professionals don’t have, Ewan said. This real-world aspect of delivering a buildable product on time and on budget adds another element that makes X-Square not only a remarkable experience for student designers and artists but also elevates the quality of its projects.

Anna Christy, a senior landscape architecture major and member of team that designed "Peritoneum," said it was the interdisciplinary aspect of the team experience that has most informed her. “You really do have to reach outside your discipline. In landscape architecture we value vegetation and "Peritoneum" has no vegetation. You have to take in everything you can and weave through the other disciplines and not be afraid to apply something outside your discipline,’’ she said. In June, team members reassembled "Peritoneum" in downtown Phoenix at Roosevelt and Second streets, giving it a second life.

Visit X-Square for more information about the competition.