Flatlot Competition Brief

The American Institute of Architects-Flint and Flint Public Art Project announce the first annual Flat Lot Competition, a program to design and build a temporary summer pavilion in the central parking lot in downtown Flint.

Formerly occupied by a series of office buildings and storefronts along Saginaw Street, the full-block surface parking lot known as the Flat Lot has become a staging ground for parades, flower-plantings, car shows, road races, and almost every sort of public event that draws large crowds. The Flat Lot Competition seeks proposals to design and build an innovative temporary structure that provides shelter, shade, and seating for a wide range of public events, defines space within the lot, and demonstrates the capacity of contemporary architectural form-making to transform space and captivate the public imagination–all while occupying no more than eight parking spaces during normal business hours. The winner of the competition will receive $25,000 to realize their proposal.

A collaboration between AIA-Flint, Flint Public Art Project, and the Downtown Development Authority, the Flat Lot Competition is modeled after the MoMA/ PS1 Young Architects Program, which every year reinvents the former public school courtyard in Long Island City, Queens as a popular place for summer events and concerts.

The Flat Lot will be a new center and symbol for the city, an attraction for regional visitors, and a site that amplifies the many existing events that help define cultural life in Flint.


Entries will be judged according to the following criteria:

1. Conceives an imaginative transformation of space and conceptual design
2. Demonstrates innovative techniques and ideas of contemporary form-making
3. Meets functional needs of summer events, including
a. provides a stage, bandstand, or other platform
b. provides a shading or cooling mechanism
c. provides seating or lounging area
d. delineates space to allow for drinking and food service
e. creates an inviting area for assembly of groups
4. Occupies no more than eight parking spaces during normal business hours.
5. Demonstrates feasibility of construction within budget or ability to raise additional funds to realize concept
6. Imagines far-reaching transformation of lot for future use

All entrants must include a preliminary budget demonstrating a capacity to realize their proposals by June 14, 2013 with a budget of $25,000. This amount will cover all materials, labor, travel, permit fees, and other expenses required to construct the project.

Proposals need not address the entire site, but may concentrate on strategic areas. Proposals may include visionary designs for future institutions that recognize the Flat Lot’s use as both surface parking and an active public space, as well as the eventual development of a permanent project that serves as-yet-unacknowledged needs. Proposals also may identify latent activities within the city’s cultural and economic life that currently have no suitable space to accommodate them.


The Flat Lot Competition is an open international competition. Entries may be submitted by professionals and non-professionals, individuals and teams, locals and non-locals. Entrants are encouraged to visit Flint to fully understand the site and its urban context.

Entrants must e-mail flatlot@flintpublicartproject.com with “registration” in the subject line, and send their registration fee postmarked by 5 pm January 31, 2013. The fee is $50 for professionals, $25 for current students. Entrants must register by 5 pm January 31, 2013. (Students should include their academic affiliation, program, and year.) Make check or money order payable to:

Flint Public Art Project
124 West First Street
Flint, MI 48502

All entries must be submitted digitally as a single pdf. The pdf can be e-mailed to flatlot@flintpublicartproject.com, or saved on a jump drive, CD, or DVD, and mailed to the address below. Hard copies must be mailed as a maximum of three 24” x 36” boards; the names of the submitting individual(s) or firm along with an e-mail address and primary phone number should be marked clearly on the back of the boards, and in the body of the e-mail submittal of the PDF. Do not include names or other idenitification on the PDF or the boards themselves. Entries that do not meet these requirements will be disqualified.
Mail boards and/or PDFs to:

Flat Lot Competition
℅ Gazall Lewis & Associates Architects
503 S. Saginaw St., Suite 100, Flint, MI 48502
(810) 239-4691

E-mail questions to: flatlot@flintpublicartproject.com.

2013 Jury

The jury is composed of seven professionals from the local, regional, and international design field, including a representative of Flint Public Art Project, and jurors appointed by AIA-Flint, the DDA, and the chief planning officer. The other three panelists will be internationally accomplished figures from outside of Flint.

John Gazall, AIA-Flint
John Henry, Flint Institute of Arts
Shannon Easter White, AIA-Flint
Monica Ponce de Leon, Dean, University of Michigan College of Architecture
Reed Kroloff, Cranbrook Institute of Arts
Perdro Gadanho, MoMA Architecture and Design Curator
Stephen Zacks, Executive Director, Flint Public Art Project


November 12, 2012: Competition announced
January 31, 2013: Registration deadline
March 1, 2013: Submittal deadline
March 14, 2013: Winners announced
April 12, 2013: Curated exhibit during Flint Art Walk and online
June 14, 2013,: Construction on winning proposal completed


Ownership and Copyright

Materials submitted for the competition become the property of Flint Public Art Project and AIA-Flint, and may be retained for exhibition, publication, and promotion purposes. Flint Public Art Project and AIA-Flint reserve the right in its retention of ownership of all competition materials to utilize submissions in any exhibition, publication, or promotional endeavor, and without compensation to the entrants. Each competitor will retain full copyright of all materials submitted unless otherwise stated. All submissions will not be returned.


All interested parties, including multidisciplinary teams, are invited to enter, and may submit as an individual, a member of a team, or a firm. No Flint Public Art Project staff member or jury member may advise or assist a competitor in any way. If it is determined that a competitor has been helped by any member of the jury or staff, that competitor’s project will be disqualified.

Flat Lot Panel Guidelines for Review and Conflict of Interest


  1. GOALS

A. Flint Public Art Project has adapted and incorporated by reference the standards and rating system used by the New York State Council on the Arts (adopted in 2009 to comply with NY state grant-making standards and protocols).

B. The American Institute of Architects-Flint and FPAP are using this rating system as a guideline for the Flat Lot Competition panel to correspond with best practices in the field and to make criteria demonstrable in the review process; to clarify the logic of evaluation; to provide applicants with quantitative feedback; and to ensure transparency and consistency.



  The rating system uses a 9-point rating scale with 1 = poor and 9 = exceptional.

 Ratings are in whole numbers only (no decimal ratings).

 Ratings are provided for all three criteria (Artistic Excellence, Managerial Competence, and Service to the Public).

 Each of the three criteria are weighted equally.

 Panelists are encouraged to use the full range of the rating scale and spread their scores to better discriminate among applications.

 Scores of all panelists will be averaged to create a single score per applicant per criteria, and ultimately the criteria scores will be averaged to create a single rating for each application.

 Any application that scored below a three (3) in any one of the criteria areas will be ineligible for the prize regardless of how well they scored in the other criteria areas.


Score Descriptor Additional Guidance on Strengths/Weaknesses
9 Exceptional Exceptionally strong (model and standard for field or discipline with essentially no weaknesses)
8 Outstanding Extremely Strong with negligible weaknesses
7 Excellent Very strong with only a few minor weaknesses
6 Very good Strong with numerous minor weaknesses
5 Good Strong but with at least one moderate weakness


4 Satisfactory Some strengths but with some moderate weaknesses
3 Fair Some strengths but with at least one major weakness
2 Marginal A few strengths and a few major weaknesses
1 Poor Very few strengths and numerous major weaknesses

Minor Weakness: An easily addressable weakness that does not substantially lessen impact.

Moderate Weakness: A weakness that lessens impact.

Major Weakness: A weakness that severely limits impact.


The following criteria will be utilized by the Flat Lot panel to evaluate all submittals. Below each criterion, you will find guidelines of the various considerations that are used to evaluate that criterion.


FPAP believes in artistic excellence without boundaries and an evaluation process that embraces the widest variety of cultural and artistic expression being offered to the public in a broad array of settings and contexts from classrooms and community centers…to parks and open spaces…to more traditional venues.

The artistic excellence criteria encourages panelists to consider four dimensions of the work:

  1. IDEA – the concept or artistic impetus behind the work.
  1. PRACTICE – the effectiveness of how the work is put into practice and the impact it has on those experiencing it.
  1. DEVELOPMENT – the contribution the work might make to the development of the architects involved, architectural practice in Flint, and the field of architecture in general.
  1. CONTEXT – the context in which the work is being presented and the appropriateness of the work to that context.


The AIA-Flint and Flint Public Art Project must ensure that the prizewinner is capable of carrying out the work they propose. These criteria are meant to help evaluate the probability of the proposal’s realization.


The proposal has a written statement that…

 Clearly articulates its concept;

 Describes the reasoning behind its formal decisions;

 Presents an argument for overall design scheme.

  1. SKILL

 Proposal demonstrates attention to material needs and constraints, and is realistic;

 Indicates capacity to do adequate fundraising for proposal if exceeds existing budget;

 Demonstrates professional competence or likely ability to work well with an architect-of-record to complete the work;

 Indicates process of construction or assemblage of proposal that is probable and likely to succeed in implementation;

 Suggests access to resources to carry out work within time frame;

 Demonstrates imaginative solution that is worth supporting.


The budget shows adequate awareness of the human and financial resources needed to produce the project, and manages those resources appropriately.

Successful financial management includes…

 Specifying adequate financial resources for labor, materials, and construction.


The Flat Lot serves a variety of programs during the summer season. The winning entry must support a broad array of activity and not exclude uses that are anticipated by these programs. In addition, it must do its due diligence to ensure that the proposal complies with accepted safety and accessibility standards.

  1. PROMOTION AND OUTREACH – the proposal demonstrates the capacity to appeal to a broad and diverse audience through marketing and public relations efforts.
  1. AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT – the proposal offers thoughtful and well-designed educational and interpretive activities that help build audience appreciation and understanding of the field of architecture and the work being produced, presented, or exhibited.
  1. AUDIENCE/VISITOR PARTICIPATION – the proposal responds to the anticipated public uses, programs and activities.
  1. SAFETY & ACCESSIBLITY – the activities and events anticipated in the proposal are fully accessible to the public and comply with all safety and accessibility standards.
  1. DIVERSITY OF PROGRAMMING – any additional proposed programming reflects significant efforts to reach a broad array of artists and audiences.
  1. COMMUNITY SERVICE – the proposal adds value to the community through partnerships with local businesses and schools, free and low-cost events, and in other appropriate ways.



  1. No panelist should have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business or transaction or professional activity, or incur any obligation of any nature that is in substantial conflict with their role or impair their independence of judgment as a panelist.


    1. No panelist should be employed by any firm that has submitted an entry to the competition, or be a member of a team, have contributed ideas, or be able to identify the source of any submittal that they are reviewing or commenting on as a panelist.
    2. No panelist should be employed in a job that would require them to disclose confidential information that they gain by reason of their role as a panelist.
    3. No panelist should disclose confidential information acquired in the course of their role as a panelist or use such information to further their personal interests.
    4. No panelist should use or attempt to use their role as a panelist to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for themselves or others.
    5. No panelist should engage in any transaction as representative of the panel with any business entity in which they have a direct or indirect financial interest that might reasonably tend to conflict with the proper discharge of their role as a panelist.
    6. A panelist’s conduct should not give reasonable basis for the impression that any person can improperly influence them or unduly enjoy their favor in the performance of their role as a panelist, or that they are affected by the kinship, rank, position or influence of any party or person.
    7. A panelist should abstain from making personal investments in enterprises which they have reason to believe may be directly involved in decisions to be made by them or which will otherwise create substantial conflict between their role as a panelist and their private interest.
    8. A panelist should endeavor to pursue a course of conduct that will not raise suspicion among the public that they are likely to be engaged in acts that are in violation of their trust.
    9. If any panelist has prior knowledge of any submittal to the competition and is able to identify its source, they should file a written affiliation statement to AIA-Flint and FPAP that they have such knowledge and recuse themselves from reviewing that submittal.


  1. Any panelist who knowingly and intentionally violates any of the provisions of this statement may be suspended or removed from the panel.


I have read and agree to the conflict of interest disclosure statement.

Signature: _________________________________________ Date: ______


Flat Lot Competition Panel Affiliation Statement

Please enter all or part of the name and location of teams that have submitted entries that may be identifiable to you, whether because you have seen their drawings, or advised or participated in any manner in the proposal’s creation.

Team _________________________     Location __________

Team _________________________     Location __________

Team _________________________     Location __________

Team _________________________     Location __________

Team _________________________     Location __________

Team _________________________     Location __________

Team _________________________     Location __________

Team _________________________     Location __________

Team _________________________     Location __________


Flat Lot Competition Confidentiality Agreement

Date:  _______________

Panelist Name:___________________________________________________________

As a participant in the Flat Lot Competition panel, in the interest of confidentiality and of executing a fair and equitable process, I hereby agree that:

  • I will maintain strict confidentiality of the applicant evaluation and review proceedings and the security of all related documents;
  • I will not hold discussions with or divulge/accept information on any aspect of the evaluation of applicants from anyone other than authorized facilitator and participants in the review process;
  • I will keep my scoring and the scoring of other panelists confidential from anyone other than authorized participants in the review process;
  • If any representatives of the applicants and/or proposed subcontractors for the applicants attempt to communicate with me regarding the subject of the review process, I will direct them to contact the AIA-Flint or Flint Public Art Project.

Signature: _______________________________________________ Date: _______