Gallaudet University International Design Competition

Submission: October 1, 2015
Registration: October 1, 2015
Language: English
Location: Washington, D.C., USA
Prizes: An honorarium of $50,000
Type: Open


In September 2015, Gallaudet University, located in the heart of Washington, D.C., is launching an international two-stage design competition to create a new campus gateway and redefine its urban edge as a vibrant, mixed-use, creative and cultural district.

The project will transform the campus and its surrounding community, positioning the area as a focal point for the U.S. capital’s newly emerging creative economy.

Gallaudet University is the only bilingual liberal arts university in the world where education and research programs for deaf and hard of hearing students are conducted in American Sign Language (ASL) and English. The University benefits from an historic 99 acre campus, which is close to the Capitol, the U.S. National Arboretum, and the White House. The core of this was originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (known for New York’s Central Park) in 1866.

The Gallaudet University International Design Competition encompasses: the design of a new Gateway Plaza, a revitalization of the campus’ historic Olmsted Green, and the creation of a new public realm that will integrate the campus with the vibrant urban fabric of a wider regeneration project within Washington, D.C., including the emerging Florida Avenue Market area. This is adjacent to some of the city’s fastest growing and most dynamic mixed-use neighborhoods in NoMa and the H Street corridor.

The competition scope will include design proposals for a visitors’ pavilion located within the Gateway Plaza, as well as conceptual proposals for a landmark building at the epicenter of the campus, which will command views across a number of strategic routes.

Throughout its 150-year history, Gallaudet has served as both a premier academic institution and an internationally recognized centre for Deaf Culture.

Historically, the term ‘deaf’ has been associated with the loss of hearing and is commonly viewed by society in general as a limiting disability. Today, Gallaudet is at the center of an emerging renaissance known as Deaf Gain: a paradigm shift that changes the emphasis from hearing loss to the ‘unique cognitive, creative, and cultural gains manifested through deaf ways of being in the world.’ 1

Honoring Deaf Culture’s belief in the value of engagement, the University will be actively involving students, stakeholders, and local participants in the project and it will incorporate the finest suggestions in the detailed specification of requirements.

Both the ensuing project and the parent regeneration initiative will be run by Gallaudet University in partnership with The JBG Companies, who are experienced in collaborating with renowned global architects.

The challenge offered by the competition is fascinating: expressing Gallaudet’s distinctive culture and heritage through design, and creating a memorable destination within one of the world’s great capital cities.

Key Objectives:

– Create a destination for creative cultural exchange and innovation as part of the 6th Street corridor and Florida Avenue Market revitalization.

– Establish an exemplar of inclusive design and creative place-making within both local neighborhoods and the wider city of Washington, D.C.

– Give the University a gateway which expresses a more open character, and better integrates the campus, with its wider neighborhood.

– Shift the focus of the campus back to its much-valued historic heart and rejuvenate the public realm, making it fully inclusive and inviting, whilst also flexible and responsive to change.

– Seek functional excellence by incorporating DeafSpace guidelines and inspiring new thinking about communications technology, wayfinding, and branding.

– Develop a space that can act as a conduit between the hearing and non-hearing worlds, celebrating human diversity – and with the potential to become a global model.

– Increase awareness of Gallaudet University as an eminent institution of national and international importance.

A Request for Proposal 

Invites applications from multidisciplinary teams of designers, landscape architects and specialists in human behavior, performing and fine arts, communication technology, wayfinding and engineering disciplines, amongst others. Can you put together (or be part of) a diverse and talented team who can create a new campus gateway and redefine Gallaudet’s urban edge as a vibrant cultural district? To find out how to submit, download our Search Statement.

Closing date for submissions: 12:00 EDT October 1, 2015

At the second stage, up to five teams will be selected to work up concept designs and briefed with materials incorporating the finest suggestions – with contributors credited and thanked – from the Shape Gallaudet initiative.  The teams, Shape Gallaudet contributors, jury and other specialists will take part in the colloquium and charrette.


The winning team shall have the opportunity to provide the design services and deliverables necessary to implement their proposal. Immediately upon final selection, Gallaudet University Foundation and The JBG Companies will enter negotiations with the winning team to establish a mutually agreed upon scope, schedule and budget for design services.

An honorarium of $50,000 (Fifty Thousand United States Dollars) will be awarded to each of the shortlisted teams following the selection of the winner.

Go to the competition’s website