Columbia Design League Launches Play With Your City 2019

Play With Your City 2019 welcomes ideas for reimagining underutilized pedestrian corridor in downtown Columbia, South Carolina.

(Columbia, SC) — The Columbia Design League, an affiliate group of the Columbia Museum of Art, has launched Play With Your City 2019: Reimagining Lady. The competition invites designers, artists, architects, landscape architects and citizens to share ideas for reimagining the Lady Street Corridor, an underutilized, three-block pedestrian thoroughfare in downtown Columbia — South Carolina’s capital city.

Entrants are challenged to consider temporary or permanent interventions to improve the pedestrian experience along the corridor from Main Street to Lincoln Street. The deadline to submit is Monday, April 29, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. The winning entry will receive a $5,000 cash prize awarded by the Columbia Design League. The project is supported by a grant from the Knight Foundation Fund at Central Carolina Community Foundation.

Why the Lady Street Corridor?
In 2015, Knight Foundation in collaboration with the Central Carolina Community Foundation provided funding for the City of Columbia to undertake a Public Space Public Life survey conducted by the Copenhagen-based Gehl Studio. In the resulting study [pdf], the Lady Street Corridor (see site info and street views) was identified as prime opportunity to create a pedestrian-friendly connection for the five-minute walk that connects two of the city’s thriving urban districts.

At the western end of Lady Street, amidst shops and restaurants, a short, abandoned rail tunnel-turned greenway, available for pop-up events, links directly to Finlay Park two blocks to the north. At the eastern end, contemporary Main Street mid-rise office buildings form a well-defined urban street wall, framing the Statehouse, South Carolina’s architectural crown jewel.

What’s the Problem?

While both ends of the Lady Street Corridor are vibrant, the pedestrian experience between them is fraught with challenges. Assembly Street, a six-lane thoroughfare, now effectively separates Main Street from the Congaree Vista. Once across Assembly Street, heading toward the Vista, the scenery is bleak due to a hodge-podge of surface parking and single-story buildings.

Let’s Reimagine Lady, Together.
Between now and April 29, 2019, you’re invited to share your ideas for making the Lady Street Corridor a people-first place where pedestrian, cyclist and transit experiences are prioritized ahead of auto efficiency. Entries should be conceived with a $20,000 total construction budget.

Entrants are challenged to consider temporary or permanent interventions to improve the pedestrian experience along the Lady Street Corridor and introduce ‘urban stickiness’ to the corridor, enticements that invite you slow down, stop and linger to enjoy the public life around you. Solutions that incorporate and blur the distinctions between architecture, landscape design, urban design and art installation are encouraged. Entrants may work alone, but multi-disciplinary design teams are encouraged.

Entries will be evaluated by a national jury of urban designers, planners and leaders in a blind jury methodology:

Play With Your City 2019 Design Jury

Mike Lydon, Jury Chair | Tactical Urban Designer
Steve Benjamin | Mayor, City of Columbia
DeAnna Cummings | Juxtaposition Arts
Gabe Klein | City Transportation Specialist
John Fellows | Urban Planner & Urban Designer, City of Columbia

Winning Design
The winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize. While the winning entry shall be constructed for $20,000 as a total construction budget, the Columbia Design League reserves the right to negotiate with the designer(s) regarding additional professional consultants to implement the winning design, as necessary.

Full competition details, submission criteria, anticipated timeline and site detail resources are available online at Submissions will begin to be accepted online in mid-March.

Play With Your City 2019: Reimagining Lady Partners
City Center Partnership
City of Columbia Government
Coal Powered Filmworks
Columbia Development Corporation
Columbia Museum of Art
One Columbia
Quackenbush Architects + Planners
Watson Tate Savory

About the Columbia Design League

The Columbia Design League (CDL) is an affiliate group of the Columbia Museum of Art. The group works to educate others about design excellence, emphasize the importance of great design, and to broaden understanding of how good design affects nearly every facet of life. The CDL gathers its membership for an annual series of meetings and welcomes guests and nonmembers with an interest in design. For details, visit or follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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