In architecture and the visual arts, there is a long tradition of site-specific projects and temporary installations informing subsequent development. St. Louis’ 1,300-acre Forest Park still bears the stamp of the 1904 World’s Fair. The Gateway Mall, a gleam in the eye of civic planners for more a than century, today boasts Citygarden, Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch and Richard Serra’s Twain.
Now The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis have launched PXSTL, a competition exploring the critical role of arts and culture in building vital and dynamic communities.
Open to emerging artists and designers currently working in the United States, PXSTL centers on a vacant lot in the heart of Grand Center, St. Louis’ premier arts and culture district.
The site, located at 3713 and 3719 Washington Blvd., is directly across the street from the Pulitzer Foundation’s building, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando.
“PXSTL represents a form of tactical urbanism,” says Leslie Markle, the Sam Fox School’s curator for public art. “While the physical project is limited to a specific lot, we are looking for proposals that include a plan for community engagement and that demonstrate an understanding of Grand Center and the existing framework plan for this district.”
“The intention is to highlight how small-scale interventions have a significant impact in the context of a city like St. Louis,” Markle says, “and to provide a model for other communities facing similar challenges.”
PXSTL is funded by an endowment, established by Emily Rauh Pulitzer, that supports joint projects between the Sam Fox School and the Pulitzer Foundation.
The winning individual, firm or interdisciplinary group will receive a $50,000 project budget, as well as a $10,000 honorarium, to create a temporary — and largely self-sustaining — construction, landscape strategy or other strategic intervention. The final project should invite interactivity but also offer something to passing motorists and pedestrians.
“The interplay of visual, literary, and performing arts, along with design and architecture, is central to the exhibitions and programs presented by the Pulitzer Foundation,” says Gretchen Wagner, curator for the Pulitzer Foundation.
“The PXSTL project seeks to open up unexpected avenues for collaboration to inspire you to think about art differently and engage with your community,” Wagner adds. “The integrated use of temporary constructions, ephemeral media and the application of unexpected materials is an aspect we look to explore.
“This partnership with the Sam Fox School provides an exceptional opportunity for innovative thinkers and practitioners to realize ambitious, multifaceted ideas in a dynamic context of an evolving urban center.”
Process and timeline
Organizers have solicited nominations from a select group of distinguished practitioners and curators, as well as from deans of architecture, art and design programs, and from editors of art, architecture and design publications. All nominations are due by March 15. A selection panel of the Pulitzer Foundation staff and Sam Fox School faculty will announce three finalists at the end of May.
Each finalist will receive an honorarium with which to conduct an initial site visit; develop a full, conceptual proposal; and make a final presentation to the selection panel. The winning project will be announced in August 2013, and will open to the public in Summer 2014.
For media inquiries, please contact Liam Otten at (314) 935-8494 or Liam_Otten@wustl.edu; or Becky Adamietz-Deo at (314) 446-2053 or