Ever Wanted to Design an Iconic Bench?

Well, for all you landscape architects, architects, urban designers, and outdoor furniture lovers out there, here’s your chance. Design Museum Boston just announced its Street Seats Design Challenge, an opportunity to design an iconic bench or “street seat” for the Fort Point Channel in South Boston’s cutting-edge “Innovation District.” Individual designers or teams from around the world are invited to participate. The design competition will not only result in a fabulous new bench for the district, but a spot in a public exhibition at the Museum and walking tour around the Channel. 

Submissions will need to offer sustainable outdoor sidewalk furniture designs that can handle Boston’s weather extremes. Design Museum Boston also wants to see a “focus on reuse, using environmentally friendly materials, and innovative construction methods.”

According to Design Museum Boston, the Fort Point Channel area is a burgeoning arts and design center. In 2011, the area had some 1,300 businesses, 33,000 workers, and 1,900 residents. The Fort Points Arts Community says there are more than 300 artists working in the revamped historic warehouse buildings, with lots of painters, book artists, digital media artists, designers, and sculptors.  

The Channel area links the waterfronts of downtown and South Boston so the city is putting in a “new kind of public park” along this piece of the waterfront. The Boston Redevelopment Authority explains all the high hopes for the space: “Not since the early 20th century reclamation of the Charles River Basin from an industrial swamp has there been such an opportunity to create an urban waterfront destination on such a scale. Fort Point Channel can become Boston’s ‘Next Great Place.'”

Boston Mayor Menino also has big plans for the district, with 1,000 acres of residential, commercial, and industrial space planned for the whole South Boston waterfront. The area is to be the home for a new cluster of “knowledge-based companies.” Already, it’s home to the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum and the Boston’s Children’s Museum.  

Entries will be on view at the Design Museum Boston’s galleries at Factory 63 and online. Semi-finalists will get a $750 fabrication grant and their bench-contender will be installed around the Fort Point Channel for seven months. Three finalists will be chosen, taking home $9,000 in prize money. We assume the winner’s bench design will go into production and be installed in the community. 

If submissions are received by November 20, registration for members of the museum is free and non-members pay $30. After then, registration fees increase.

Registration opens September 24.

Image credit: Design Museum Boston

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