Design competition wants to turn vision into reality |

Design competition wants to turn vision into reality

Anne Knowles

A design contest for ideas to improve Reno is adding a new — and realistic — twist this year.

DICE — for “design, innovation, creative, energy” — plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign to finance the winning proposal and move the idea off the drawing board and onto city streets.

The crowdsourcing idea comes from last year’s competition, when architect Eric Hatch won the audience award for his idea of a digital map display of urban trailheads, connected to hikers via GPS, which would show in real time all the activity on city walks.

Several City of Reno staff and elected officials were in the audience last year and encouraged Hatch to propose his idea to the City Council, says Colin Robertson, curator of education at the Nevada Museum of Art, who launched DICE.

“We’re proud the city liked the idea, but the wheels of the city are slow-turning, so that project is in a wait-and-see phase,” says Robertson.

But it gave the organizers the idea to do what they could to turn the winning concept into a reality.

“We’re interested in the possibility of an idea like Eric Hatch’s,” says Robertson. “One of the ways that could be supported and realized is through something like Kickstarter.”

This year’s DICE theme: How could you use your craft to make Reno a better place? Artists, architects, graphic, web and interiors designers as well as anyone with an artistic concept for improving the city has until Sept. 11 to submit a three-minute video or Powerpoint presentation describing their idea.

The submissions, which usually number between 20 and 30, will be whittled down to 10 or 12 and their authors will present them at an event being held from 2-7 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Nevada Museum of Art.

The proposals will be judged by the event’s speakers: Tom Kundig, a nationally-known architect with Olsen Kundig Architects in Seattle; Charles Stone, an architectural and theatrical lighting designer and president, Fisher Marantz Stone in New York City; and Jim Stickley, director, Wallace Roberts and Todd, a San Francisco-based landscape design and urban planning firm.

Robertson says the projects will be judged primarily based on artistic merit, but contestants are being encouraged to keep the ideas small so they might also be doable.

“This year, the idea is to make scope and scale more modest,” says Robertson. “So it might be a small public space in a neighborhood that could be improved or like a public furniture project to get people downtown.”

The contest originated in 2010, during the recession, as a way to shore up Reno’s design community.

“It was a time when design professions in Reno were decimated by the economic climate,” says Robertson. “It was a way to bring design and creativity into the community at a dark time economically.”

DICE 2014 is sponsored by American Institute of Architects Northern Nevada, Black Rock Design Institute, AIGA, Stan Can Design, U.S. Green Building Council, Nevada Chapter of the American Planning Association and Illuminating Engineering Society.