Michael Bloomberg, New York’s rich and resourceful mayor, has unveiled a competition that may give architects a chance to share their best ideas—and make money.
Last week, the mayor announced a contest meant to improve civic life in the United States through ideas that “address serious social or economic problems” or “create efficiencies that make government work better, faster, and cheaper.” Judges will select winners later this year.
The contest is open to U.S. cities with populations of 30,000 or more. Cities have to register for the Mayors Challenge by July 16 (at mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org) and complete their entries by September 14. Even by Bloombergian standards, the possible rewards are staggering: a $5 million first prize, and four $1 million second prizes.
The organizer, Bloomberg Philanthropies, encourages city officials to work with architects and other consultants. “One of the greatest ways to stretch an idea and the impact it will have is to leverage resources, talent, and creativity from other sectors,” the website says.
In fact, nothing prevents an architect from conceiving a concept, proposing it to city leaders, and then working with them to prepare a submission. (The entry will take the form of answers to a questionnaire, but can also include videos and renderings, according to the rules.) And nothing prevents an architect from negotiating a lucrative deal with a city, including a bonus if that city wins the contest.
This is the perfect summer project for architects with ideas about how to improve cities. Big ideas, that is. In the cheeky style for which the billionaire mayor is known, the contest guidelines asks entrants to imagine “the headline on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek in five years, after your idea is implemented."
But why not also imagine the headline on the cover of Architectural Record?