Flint Flat Lot: What won and what got built.


Here is the conceptual image:

Here is the constructed result:

What is your guess at what the reflective material is and whether it will be smoothed?

Even so, how does the constructed result compare to the image that undoubtedly helped this entry win? Does this happen more often than not?

I heard there were financing problems. The budget was supposed to be $25k. This seems to be a case of a $50k project built with half the budget. Contrast that to a project that was designed with a strict budget in mind. What's better, a half-assed glamour project or a maxed out solid project?

Sep 14, 13 5:49 pm

What the hell?

Sep 14, 13 6:05 pm  · 

Flint Public Art Project and the Flint Chapter of the American Institute of Architects announce that Two Islands, a team of architects and designers based in London, have won the $25,000 grand prize in the inaugural Flat Lot competition to design and build a temporary summer pavilion on Flint's central downtown parking lot.

Somebody won $25,000 for this?!

The winning proposal, Mark's House, tells the story of an imagined Flint resident, Mark Hamilton, whose family loses a home to foreclosure. The project perches a Tudor-style house clad in reflective panels on top of a mirrored pedestal, giving the structure the appearance of floating in mid-air. The house serves as a metaphor for both what the city has lost, as well as its ongoing revitalization, while also providing a canopy and stage for Flat Lot events. In addition, the structure can hold up to 1,500 gallons of water, which can be released as a cooling spray during hot summer days.

Celebrating an imaginary foreclosure, no less. I'm sure that all of the now homeless real people who were actually foreclosed on will be comforted by the cooling spray during hot summer days.

Sep 14, 13 6:21 pm  · 

oh, so they found out buildings can't float, and that cladding doesn't come in one gigantic piece and oil cans?  the unrealistic perspective angle in the rendering doesn't help either.

Sep 14, 13 6:25 pm  · 

The render has the same base. I think the shape is exactly the same.

It's the seamless and precise reflectivity that separate them...that and some rendering hocus pocus.

Sep 14, 13 7:31 pm  · 


Sep 14, 13 7:54 pm  · 
Wat. I'm in the wrong biz.
Sep 14, 13 8:09 pm  · 

I don't want to be too mean, though.


This is the caption from the photo:

"Mark's House, winning design of the inaugural Flat Lot Competition, is almost complete. Light boxes that hang from beneath the structure and some additional pieces of reflective Mylar are among the finishing touches to be added."

My point was that regardless if the mylar gets smoothed, the result still seems underwhelming.

Sep 14, 13 8:18 pm  · 

Competition with a construction budget $25K? Pass.

Look if you want to enter and win with a sexy image, then hey, you win. Put it in the portfolio. Put it on the CV 'winning entry.' and then leave it at that.

Kindly explain to the event organizers that if they can't properly fund the construction, then you aren't releasing the design to be built. You're much better off having the legacy of the project be an unbuilt winning rendering rather than a built embarrassment. 

Sep 14, 13 9:10 pm  · 
Word on the street was that the architects took to Kickstarter to raise more.

Not to mention the permitting office dragging its feet.
Sep 14, 13 9:19 pm  · 

That ain't oilcanning -- that's simple wrinkling.  Even if the film could have been applied wrinkle-free -- to a surface sufficiently flat and smooth to produce a mirror-like effect -- the expansion and subsequent contraction of the plywood under the film, in a 24-hour temperature cycle, could have left the self-adhesive film (with its different coefficient of expansion) in a wrinkled state.

Sep 14, 13 10:52 pm  · 

Kindly explain to the event organizers that if they can't properly fund the construction, then you aren't releasing the design to be built.

Properly fund a floating building? There are people standing underneath it in the bullshit presentation and the fucking retards at the AIA gave them a $25k prize.

Here, have some more Kool-Aid.

Sep 15, 13 12:54 am  · 

Like I said. Tell them to put up real money required to build it worthy of the rendering or tell them to shove it. 

In any case, I dont think we'll be sing this kind of horseshit from the AIA again any time soon. They look the worst imho.

Sep 15, 13 1:07 am  · 

But dont look now heres the next big opportunity

an open competition for whoever comes along (dont have to be an architect or engineer) to design a 750 SF  pavillion to be built for $8000.   

"Designs must not present risk to the general safety and welfare of the event attendees and must consider structural requirements and the possible need to withstand high winds and driving rains without the use of fixed, below-grade foundations."

The fact that the quoted qualification must even be stated is rich.

So here's what you do kids:
1. render the most magical la-la-land pavillion that your overpriced MArch equipped you to come up with.
2. Submit.
3. Win.
4. When the city of Louisville and the good people at Blast records (wtf?) say its time to start building, point to the fine print narrative hidden somewhere in your rendering that says "I propose that we spend $100 dollars on some spliffys to get everyone high and imagine they are actually standing under this pavillion which will otherwise not be built because there's no way in hell it ever could be. The other $7900 goes straight to my pocket." -the artist


Sep 15, 13 1:20 am  · 

The blame falls on both the designers and jury. The competitionnice brief said there would be a 25k construction budget. As architects it is our responsibility to stay within budget while creating something remarkable. Secondly the jury should have audited the design and asked for a cost estimate to see the practicality of construction. The architects had to run to kickstarter because they realized their sexy render had fooled even themselves and there was no way 25k was going to get this thing built.

Sep 15, 13 1:26 am  · 

Wow. Wonder what the story is there.

anyway, not that anybody will pay attention, but if you look closely, the rendering does indeed show a base. The building isn't floating.

Sep 15, 13 1:26 am  · 

Oh I see the base. Its barely visible because of the perfect mirrored reflection going on, almost suggesting that it would be built with..... yaknow... mirrors.   (Not aluminum foil.) 

Sep 15, 13 1:32 am  · 

Make sure to remove foil wrapping before placing in microwave.

Seriously, things like this are why architects are a laughingstock sometimes.  All the good work we do doesn't make the news because, well, it's good --and not both silly and pompous at the same time.  Quite an accomplishment.

A lot of paper architecture should stay there.

Sep 15, 13 4:25 am  · 

more photos here:

if they had done any tests on that material at all they would have realized it would fail. even trying to make study models with it doesn't turn out very well...

how much would the true cost have been using mirrored glass or other weather-stable pre-produced material?

as the comment in the designboom article says, residents now have another eye-sore for the area, just to depress them even more.

...missed opportunity.

Sep 15, 13 5:20 am  · 

Granted, the DesignBoom photographs do the finished piece a little justice. Even still, this is essentially what a value-engineered Cloud Gate looks like.

Sep 15, 13 6:21 am  · 

The Jury:

Pedro Gadanho, curator of contemporary architecture, MOMA
John Gazall, Flint-based architect, board member, Downtown Development Authority, and member of AIA-Flint
John Henry, director, Flint Institute of Arts
Monica Ponce de Leon, dean, University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture
Shannon Easter White, Flint-based architect and member of AIA-Flint
Stephen Zacks, executive director, Flint Public Art Project.

Not necessarily a list of ''non-design-professionals" from city hall.

This discussion could veer in the direction of opinions on competitions, their entrants, and how the jury actually deliberates...

Sep 15, 13 6:35 am  · 
Poor Flint. More abuse.
Sep 15, 13 8:34 am  · 

The comments on designboom are excoriating. Designboom should take it down, it's pretty apparent that those images are fraudulent. 

Sep 15, 13 12:07 pm  · 

this finish changes with the weather conditions, stretching or wrinkling with varying amounts of moisture in the air

It's a feature, not a defect. 

Sep 15, 13 12:17 pm  · 

^well that's an interesting note. Maybe the design boom pictures aren't total bogus?

The only other image I've seen of it is the image from the OP, which is at an unflattering angle and not particularly well taken.


Sep 15, 13 1:13 pm  · 

The jury should issue an apology. There's  3 architects who should have known better. 
And MOMA lost its architectural license when it decided to raze the Folk Art Museum. They should not be on any jury.  

Sep 15, 13 2:02 pm  · 

They received an additional £10,000 from their Kickstarter.

Sep 15, 13 3:52 pm  · 

Not an architect.

But couldn't this have been done cheaply and maintain the somewhat of the same impact if they just used acrylic mirrors glued to OSB with weatherproofing and tar over a shoddy 2x4 frame?

I mean, acrylic or polycarbonate wouldn't last longer than a year or two in full sunlight but this is a pretty temporary exhibit, right?

Sep 15, 13 3:53 pm  · 

I also think it would have been more cost effective to mount some used ebay digital projectors in the floor and have them project pictures onto an undulating fabric surface underside rather than building hundreds of custom boxes.

Sep 15, 13 3:57 pm  · 

In an effort to maintain the utmost professional standards, the image of the actual constructed form was taken by MLive/Flint Journal reporter Scott Atkinson.

Sep 15, 13 4:21 pm  · 

A little digging turned up all the entries.

Let the jury deliberations begin.

Sep 15, 13 6:31 pm  · 

I like where they were going with the AC H2O idea, just cannot see it coming in on budget. From the semi finalists the monster one was quite exciting, certainly a good innovative and fun spirited way to engage younger generations into public art and architecture. Still think the winning entry is a little kitsch or gimmicky, I cannot decide how I feel about it without seeing it in person. 

Sep 15, 13 7:29 pm  · 

^The AC H2O project seems like a canned response to this sort of thing... I feel like someone just spent an hour in grasshopper and called it a day. Oh, and then they added atmospherics for good effect.

The monsters one is cool.

UP is just ridiculous.

I really appreciate the projects that did some kind of built concept test.

Sep 15, 13 8:00 pm  · 
Architects are so weird.
Sep 15, 13 8:32 pm  · 

Building Bodies for Work was my top pick. I liked the way its intent was to funnel the construction budget directly to Job Corp trainees pursuing construction careers. I can't imagine a better way to address the awful economic conditions in Flint. Not a lot of money, but Kickstarter could have been used to supplement the project the way it was for the asinine winning entry.

I was really surprised to see only one entry that utilized natural landscaping - The Lawn. Unfortunately the design severely limited access to the park by raising it up and fell into crass commercialism by placing a taco stand and other concessions underneath. 

AC.H20 would have been more effective if it had used landscaping to achieve its goal of capturing rainwater and cooling the space instead of a complex parametric structure that could never begin to approach the budget requirements. Plus, who's going to clean the thing?

Sep 15, 13 8:40 pm  · 

geezus. i got to enter some competitions. 

the Wes Janz team could've pulled it off, within the allowable budget.

Sep 15, 13 8:55 pm  · 

The magic of photoshop.

Sep 15, 13 9:15 pm  · 
Can you blame some of the entrants? For those just throwing something at the wall to see what sticks, I can imagine many a competitor commenting to themselves "How's it built? No concern at this juncture, lets just worry about winning."

They feed the jurors what the jurors think the public/client wants to see in a winning entry.
Sep 15, 13 10:08 pm  · 

Here's a lesson for this new generation of architects to be.  Completely relying on your rendering and photoshop abilities to visualize a concept/idea is only a small part of it.  You also need to perform within the realms of reality to fully execute it.  Study models, research, "reality", etc..... Unfortunate for these young designers this could potentially taint their early careers instead of a launching pad to more work.  The internet has backfired on them.  On a positive note, Flint will survive and move on.

Sep 15, 13 10:09 pm  · 

"but I realy believed those snazy renderings embodied everything it took to be a great architect!  Now I need to empathize with the user!?!  What's next, talking to builders?" 

Like the friend who wouldn't disipline his kid when drawing on walls for fear of crimping his creativity.  Asking for a basic understanding of what it takes to bring these entries to fruition would have eliminated not only the tin-foil cape but many other entries.  And even if it was prooven to be buildable, who the hell wants to sit below a visually unstable structure? 

Back in school they used to revel in this tension inducing stunt, likening it to a bracing cold shower in the mundane heat of mid-America.  I'm afraid the people of Flint are all too familiar with tension.  What they need is soothing, and not just them.  Unfortunatly we are all too cynical to take care of people as architects.  We don't serve anyone but our own egos it seems.  It's better to just be glib and hope no one calls you out for being a sucker.   

Sep 16, 13 8:43 am  · 
After you are sold on the glamorous side of the profession for years upon years by your peers, juries, and faculty, one is wont to believe that pre design and conceptual phase renderings will serve just fine in lieu of construction details. The crowds in your images will manifest themselves.
Sep 16, 13 9:00 am  · 

I'd say they got what they paid for.

Sep 16, 13 1:38 pm  · 

It reeks with shallowness all the way from the competition conception to the jury. Must architecture be this literal when looking into socioeconomic problems that have great impact on people's lives?
Also, installation art or sculpture is not everything goes. You have to abide with some rigorous conditions and strategies both conceptually and physically. Otherwise it is just a festival material. Having said that, wrinkle on the mylar is the least of my problem with this installation.

Sep 16, 13 2:06 pm  · 

It reminds me of when you go out to those stuffy fancy restaurants and they give you your leftovers in a tinfoil swan.

Let's start a kick starter to tear it down

The Lesson from this: Always a good idea to construct a mockup when experimenting with a new material or a new application of a material.

Sep 16, 13 2:10 pm  · 

++ gwharton

Sep 16, 13 2:31 pm  · 

I liked Murphy Monsters.

Sep 16, 13 3:01 pm  · 

Can anyone post any other photos of what this thing actually looks like? All we have so far is the one view that everybody keeps hating on, and the suspiciously shiny designboom pics.

Sep 16, 13 3:04 pm  · 

From what I've read, it looks the same (or some say worse) in real life, compared to the photo posted by the op. Here's a story by a local paper, with another photo.

It's funny, the "photos" on designboom and other blogs haven't been questioned or "busted" anywhere but on this thread, as far as I've seen.

Sep 16, 13 3:18 pm  · 

Well then, what had been build is catastrophic comparing to the proposals but the jury should have kept in their minds the available funds before declaring the winner.

And here is more photos, it is not that bad :D like the image in the post

more here

Sep 16, 13 3:50 pm  · 

paul, do you think there's an inherent lie between the two sets of photos? i can see them taking the designboom shots literally 36 seconds after they laid the last mylar sheet on but then having the whole skin deteriorate quickly enough to become what's being represented right now. (i mean, all the db shots are at dusk - that thing may have been shot the same day, who knows). neither set of photos would be inherently deceptive in their respective manner, but clearly the designboom photos don't capture the all-too soon 'afterlife'. to me that's the real allegory here...

Sep 16, 13 4:27 pm  · 
vado retro

very jiffy poppy.

Sep 16, 13 4:34 pm  · 

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