PXSTL Finalists

Lots, 2014. Inaugural PXSTL installation by Freecell Architecture.

Posted by Pulitzer Arts Foundation & Sam Fox School January 14, 2016


The Sam Fox School and Pulitzer Arts Foundation have announced the finalists in the second iteration of PXSTL, a competition for a design-build commission to create a temporary structure, landscape strategy, or other design intervention that will transform a vacant lot in St. Louis' Grand Center neighborhood into the site of community-based programs and events.

The finalists are architects Merve Bedir and Jason Hilgefort of Randstad, Netherlands, and Istanbul; artist Mary Ellen Carroll of New York and Houston; and architect Amanda Williams and artist/educator Andres L. Hernandez of Chicago. They were selected for their vision, their proven commitment to community engagement, and their record of cross-disciplinary collaboration.

The PXSTL competition (the name is an acronym for the Pulitzer, Sam Fox School, and St. Louis) was launched in 2013, with the first project, designed by Freecell Architecture of Brooklyn, completed in summer 2014. The winner of this second iteration will be announced in March 2016. The final design will be realized in spring 2017, and programming will take place in summer 2017.

In a new addition to the competition, this year's winner will teach an architecture studio as visiting faculty in the Sam Fox School's Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design in fall 2016. Students in this studio will play a significant role in exploring and developing the winning concept, including aspects of design, implementation, and community engagement.

PXSTL is intended to explore the ways in which small-scale creative interventions might serve as meaningful catalysts for broad urban transformation, as well as to examine how arts and culture can best help fortify and sustain vital communities. The vacant lot is directly across from, and is owned by, the Pulitzer. Other arts organizations in the neighborhood include the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Fabulous Fox Theatre, St. Louis Symphony, Sheldon Concert Hall, Jazz at the Bistro, Kranzberg Arts Center, and Bruno David Gallery, among others.

Pulitzer director Cara Starke notes, "Since its founding, the Pulitzer has been dedicated to creating opportunities for art and culture to have a positive impact on the broader St. Louis community. As PXSTL demonstrates, this means working closely with and listening carefully to both our community and cultural partners. We are grateful to our colleagues at the Sam Fox School for a superb collaboration, and for helping to ensure that the program—which is a key component of the Pulitzer's efforts to expand its impact on the city—continues to evolve. We look forward to achieving a truly transformative project."

Carmon Colangelo, dean of the Sam Fox School and the E. Desmond Lee Professor for Collaboration in the Arts, says, "PXSTL represents the collaborative culture of our School and the arts in St. Louis, providing us with the opportunity to have a meaningful impact on the day-to-day experiences of those who live, work, and play in Grand Center and beyond. Additionally, our students will participate in the process, gaining critical insight and first-hand experience into how the fields of art, architecture, and design have the power to spur large-scale urban transformation through even small-scale interventions."

The PXSTL finalists were selected from a group of more than 35 international practitioners solicited by the program's organizers, who sought a diversity of disciplines, perspectives, and approaches, as well as experience working in public spaces and with the public. Each of the finalists will travel to St. Louis on February 15, 2016, to conduct an initial site visit and give a public presentation of their past work and interest in the PXSTL project. The selection panel (comprised of members of the Pulitzer staff and the Sam Fox School faculty) will then choose the winning candidate, based on criteria that include innovation in approach, artistic quality, the potential to invite active engagement with the structure/intervention, and the feasibility and self-sustainability of construction. A public charrette will be held this fall in order to solicit community and stakeholder feedback.

The winning candidate or team will receive a $10,000 honorarium and will work within a project budget of up to $80,000 to design and build the project. Public programming at the PXSTL site will be developed in collaboration with the winning designer and St. Louis-based partners, including community groups, cultural organizations, and artists, drawing on the city's dynamic creative communities.

PXSTL is a direct outgrowth of the Pulitzer and Sam Fox School's shared commitment to rethinking the future of St. Louis, and is one of several projects funded by an endowment created by Emily Rauh Pulitzer to support collaboration between the two institutions. The program contributes to the ongoing revitalization of the Grand Center neighborhood, while creating an architecturally significant venue for St. Louis residents and artists to collaborate in the creation of site-specific programming. PXSTL also builds upon St. Louis' larger history of site-specific projects and temporary installations that have informed the city's development. The most famous among these is, surely, the Gateway Mall, with Eero Saarinen's now-iconic Gateway Arch (1965) and Richard Serra's Twain (1982).


Merve Bedir and Jason Hilgefort
Architects Merve Bedir and Jason Hilgefort have extensive experience working on urban issues. They are partners in Land+Civilization Compositions, an urban design and architecture firm founded by Hilgefort in 2012 and based in Randstad, Netherlands, and Istanbul. Their work, which ranges from daily objects to infrastructure to cultural research, is based on the premise that urgent social and environmental issues call for new priorities and solutions in the design of our built environment. They are currently the directors of Aformal Academy, an alternative education program within the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism \ Architecture, organized by the neighboring cities Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

Bedir studied architecture at the Middle East Technical University, in Ankara, Turkey, and is currently a PhD candidate at Delft University of Technology, where she continues her master's research on behaviors and cycles of human production and consumption, and their relationship to the design of dwellings. Recent projects have included Bostan: A Garden for All, created with and for refugees in Gaziantep, Turkey, and Density Syndicate, an urban transformation strategy for a township in Cape Town, South Africa. The author of numerous publications on urban transformation, migration, refugees and urban space, and user behavior and consumption, Bedir was a freelance curator for the Netherlands Architecture Institute in 2012, as well as curator of One Architecture Week in Bulgaria and of Vocabulary of Hospitality in Istanbul, in 2015.

Hilgefort studied urban planning and design at the University of Cincinnati and architecture at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. His work experience ranges from firms in New York to Los Angeles to Mumbai. From 2000 to 2004, he worked with architect, urban designer, and planner Peter Calthorpe, and from 2007 to 2013, he was a member of Maxwan architects + urbanists in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where he worked on projects in Moscow, Rotterdam, London, Helsinki, Kiev, Basel, and elsewhere. Hilgefort also contributes writing on "architecture and beyond" to uncube magazine.

Mary Ellen Carroll
Conceptual artist Mary Ellen Carroll (MEC studios) divides her time between New York and Houston. Her work occupies the disciplines of architecture/design, public policy, writing, performance, and film. Carroll frequently utilizes unsuspecting materials that may not traditionally be associated with art. These may include urban planning and land use (or the lack thereof), as is the case for prototype 180 in Houston, or public policy and the national and invisible real estate of radio frequencies for Public Utility 2.0, for Prospect.3 New Orleans and the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, New York. She earned a BS from the University of Colorado at Boulder and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and has taught, lectured, and given public presentations at a range of institutions, including art, architecture, and public policy programs at Rice University, the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University, the University of California at Irvine, Pusan National University (Busan, South Korea), and DIA Art Foundation, among others. Carroll is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, and her work is in public and private collections internationally. She is currently a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.

Amanda Williams and Andres L. Hernandez
For nearly two decades, Amanda Williams has focused on how combining art and architecture can make all parts of a city thrive. A graduate of Cornell University's architecture school, the Chicago-based Williams creates projects that center on color, race, and space. Her Color(ed) Theory series shrouds the exterior of soon-to-be-demolished houses with vivid, culturally derived colors, marking the pervasiveness of undervalued Black city spaces. Williams has exhibited and lectured throughout the United States. She is an adjunct professor at Illinois Institute of Technology, where she recently received an award for excellence in teaching.

Artist, designer, and educator Andres L. Hernandez works with youth and adults to interpret, critique, and reimagine their physical, social, and cultural environments. A co-founder of Revival Arts Collective—a network of citizen activists committed to using arts and culture as a catalyst for community redevelopment in Chicago—he earned his Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University and a master's degree in art education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he is associate professor and chair of the Department of Art Education. Hernandez holds a concurrent faculty position in the Graduate Studies in Art & Design Education programs at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Opening Event

The PXSTL structure will open to the public in early May 2017. More details about the opening weekend will be announced in the coming weeks.

About the Sam Fox School

The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts is an interdisciplinary and diverse community of artists, architects, designers, curators, and scholars dedicated to excellence in learning, creative activity, research and exhibition. The School's unique structure allows it to build on the strengths of each unit—Art, Architecture, and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum—and to draw on the resources of Washington University to create new knowledge and address the social and environmental challenges of our time.

About the Pulitzer

Founded in 2001, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation is dedicated to utilizing its Tadao Ando-designed building—one of the country's most celebrated examples of contemporary museum architecture—to create multilayered experiences that link the visual arts with other cultural forms and heighten audience understanding and enjoyment. Through diverse exhibitions and public programming, the Pulitzer seeks to deepen community engagement with art, and to inspire audiences to think differently about art and its relationship to their lives. Deeply committed to serving the broader St. Louis community, the Pulitzer is an integral part of the Grand Center arts district and the wider cultural landscape in St. Louis. The Pulitzer is free and open to the public Wednesday through Saturday. Hours are 10a-5p on Wednesday and Saturday, 10a-8p on Thursday and Friday.