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Local architecture contest awards team for understated park amphitheater design

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Interns in architectural firms don't often have the artistic freedom to develop new designs on their own.The annual St. Paul Prize Competition, open to unlicensed architectural professionals, gives them just that, says Eric Lagerquist, a spokesperson from the St. Paul chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The local group runs the contest.

The challenge this year was to come up with a park amphitheater to seat 150 people. It needed to facilitate live entertainment and educational presentations, making space for backstage and reception areas and more, Lagerquist says. 

Inspiration came from the Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan, which doesn't have an amphitheater--though the contest is purely theoretical and isn't connected to any real-world development plans, Lagerquist explains.

The winning design, which was announced in mid-December, was by Kar-Keat Chong and Daniel Yudchitz, who work at the Minneapolis architecture firm HGA. Chong and Yudchitz, who received $850 for their idea, positioned the amphitheater so patrons have a clear lake view at all times.

Often, action onstage will block out the scenery. In this case, people could "engage the natural environment the whole time while sitting in the amphitheater." 

Their understated design, which included a boardwalk leading to the lake, scored points with the jury because it "didn't detract from the setting," Lagerquist says. 

Alex Kang and Ji Hun Cho from PDI World Group, which is also in Minneapolis, were the runners-up, getting $50 for a "very grandiose solution," with beautiful graphics.

Jury members evaluated the seven entries on various criteria, including to what extent they dealt with sustainability and how well they fit the context.   

The contest was open to people working individually or in pairs who have architecture backgrounds but are unlicensed. Contestants have about a month to render their ideas after the contest begins. Previous contests have focused on plans for a light rail stop, a bike shed, and a fuel station for alternative fuels, Lagerquist says.  
 
Source: Eric Lagerquist, spokesperson from St. Paul AIA 
Writer: Anna Pratt

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