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Design competition to focus on filling downtown 'missing tooth'

Five teams of architects will get one hour during "Design Slam" to brainstorm on how best to use this lot at 137 West Main Street in Lexington.
Five teams of architects will get one hour during "Design Slam" to brainstorm on how best to use this lot at 137 West Main Street in Lexington. Lexington Herald-Leader

A trade group and an organization that pushes for sustainable growth are teaming up to hold a competition in which architects will float ideas on how to fill a vacant lot in downtown Lexington.

On Saturday, the American Institute of Architects East Kentucky Chapter and the Fayette Alliance will host a "Design Slam." Five teams from local architecture firms will be challenged to design something to fill the void at 137 West Main Street. They will have only one hour to work, and the public is invited to watch the process.

The space is currently a parking lot across from another downtown void, the CentrePointe site.

"It's kind of like a missing tooth in the block," AIA EKC President Dan O. Ware said of the space, which sits between buildings that are planned to become a 21c Museum Hotel and an office building painted light blue.

All the teams know about the competition is the location of the space. The type of building and the purpose it would serve will be revealed at the start of Design Slam.

"To take one hour to design a building is a feat in itself," Ware said. "I expect a great deal of movement, talking amongst group members and quick rendering."

After the hour, each team will have six minutes to present its ideas. The best design will be determined by $1 audience votes.

None of the designs will get the OK. It's just for fun, Ware said.

The event, at West Sixth Brewing Co., is free. With a $5 donation to benefit Lexington Habitat for Humanity, attendants will receive sketchbooks. The first 200 guests will get a Design Slam pint glass.

The architects group and Fayette Alliance, which advocates sustainability, might seem like an unlikely pair for putting on a design event. But both groups say they aim to serve the public and promote sustainable growth in Lexington.

"We have three main components of AIA," Ware said. "One of our biggest components is to give back to the community — which is why we are working with the Fayette Alliance."

Fayette Alliance director Knox van Nagell said, "Our key strategy is to create a vibrant, sustainable and dynamic community using our Bluegrass land and resources."

The inspiration behind the Design Slam began last year at an AIA convention that Ware attended in Lexington. "This was a venue that was just architects and we wanted to take it to the public," Ware said.


IF YOU GO

'Design Slam'

What: American Institute of Architects East Kentucky Chapter and the Fayette Alliance host a competition of local architects to complete hypothetical designs for a vacant spot on Main Street in one hour

When: 6 p.m. June 1

Where: West Sixth Brewing Co., 501 W. Sixth St.

Admission: Free, but a $5 donation is encouraged. Benefits Lexington Habitat for Humanity.

Learn more: info@aia-ekc.org

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