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Leading deaf university opens £40m public realm contest

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Gallaudet University has launched an international contest to regenerate its historic 40 hectare campus in Washington DC

The competition – organized by Malcolm Reading Consultants – seeks an ‘outstanding’ multidisciplinary design team to upgrade the pioneering school for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Founded in 1864, Gallaudet University is the only bilingual liberal arts university in the world where classes are taught in both American Sign Language and English.

The £40 million project will create a new campus gateway and transform the school’s historic Frederick Law Olmsted-designed core into a ‘vibrant, mixed-use, creative and cultural district’.

Participants will be expected to use ‘DeafSpace Guidelines’ – developed at Gallaudet – alongside input from the student community to shape their designs.

University chief executive Fred Weiner said: ‘We’re witnessing Washington DC’s rapid metamorphosis into one of the most dynamic cities in North America. 

‘But we’re also at the heart of the global deaf community, which is why we need an inspired team to create an environment that bridges the deaf and hearing worlds, celebrates human diversity, and has the potential to become a global model.’

The competition is open to multidisciplinary teams and collaborations featuring specialists in human behavior, performance arts and wayfinding are encouraged.

Five design teams will receive around £33,000 each to participate in the competition’s second stage.

Finalists will draw up designs for a new ‘gateway plaza’, enhanced public realm across the campus and a regenerated Olmsted Green.

Proposals must include a visitors’ pavilion located within the gateway plaza and a new landmark building at the centre of the university estate.

Shortlisted designs will feature in a public exhibition later this year and a winner will be announced in February.

The deadline for entries is 12 noon EDT on 1 October.






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