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Gallaudet launches community-centered “Shape Gallaudet” initiative

September 3, 2015
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Gallaudet University announced on September 2, 2015 it has launched an initiative to encourage the campus community, its surrounding Northeast D.C. area neighbors, as well as alumni and friends around the world, to submit suggestions and ideas to revitalize the university’s campus edge at 6th Street and Florida Avenue.

The initiative, entitled “Shape Gallaudet,” was launched in conjunction with an international design competition to select an architectural firm to design the development project. Working in conjunction with London-based competition organizers Malcolm Reading Consultants and Chevy Chase, Md.,-based The JBG Companies, the two-stage design competition seeks an outstanding multidisciplinary design team to create a new campus gateway and redefine the university’s urban edge as a vibrant, mixed-use, creative and cultural district. To learn more about the design competition, click here.

This project was highlighted as one of the planning principles as part of the university’s 2022 campus plan, which called for the creation of a new pedestrian entrance to campus from the corner of Florida Avenue and 6th Street. The campus plan was created by a steering committee representing cross-section of the campus community, numerous campus dialogues and with the help of the Urban Land Institute.

Today marks the start of the first phase of the initiative and ideas and submissions will be accepted throughout September ending at 12 p.m. on October 1, 2015. Concurrently, the design competition will be collecting inquiries from design firms wanting to compete for the project.

The second phase will involve naming a shortlist of prospective design firms with the winner expected to be announced early next year. Comments and submissions received during “Shape Gallaudet” will be incorporated in the briefing to shortlisted design teams at the beginning of the competition’s second stage. “Shape Gallaudet” contributors whose ideas are selected will be credited and invited to participate in design events during the fall.

“We’re on the edge of one of the most dramatic neighborhood revitalizations the District has seen in some time,” said Fred Weiner, assistant vice president of Administration at Gallaudet. “This integration into the surrounding community will allow for greater opportunities for our students, faculty and staff to engage with those that live and work alongside us, and for those outside the campus boundaries to better understand our culture and the deaf ways of being.”

“We want to transform Gallaudet’s campus edge into an innovative, creative and cultural destination with the emphasis being on rethinking the sensory experience,” said Hansel Bauman, executive director of Campus Design and Planning. “What we are looking for are ideas about how the landscape, art and architecture can describe the Gallaudet experience and Deaf Culture.”

This project will incorporate what are known as “DeafSpace” design principles. The built environment, largely constructed by and for hearing individuals, presents a variety of challenges to which deaf people have responded with a particular way of altering their surroundings to fit their unique ways-of-being.  This approach is often referred to as DeafSpace. Examples of DeafSpace design elements can be found on the Gallaudet campus in two of its buildings. This project will incorporate those elements.

“Gallaudet University is committed to building a campus setting that is responsive to, and expressive of, deaf experiences and culture,” continued Bauman.  “By submitting ideas to ‘Shape Gallaudet,’ contributors will have an opportunity to influence this historic transformation of the campus where the wisdom of DeafSpace is used to create a place welcoming to people of all abilities and cultures.”

Submissions can be made in writing or via video and can include photographs and/or sketches. The website to submit ideas can be found by clicking here.

Gallaudet University
Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English. Gallaudet maintains a proud tradition of research and scholarly activity and prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a highly competitive, technological, and rapidly changing world.

The JBG Companies
Headquartered in Chevy Chase, Md., The JBG Companies is a private real estate investment firm that develops, owns and manages office, residential, hotel and retail properties. The company has more than $10 billion in assets under management and development in the Washington, DC area. Since 1960, JBG has been active in the areas where it invests, striving to positively impact local communities. For more information, please visit or find us on Twitter @TheJBGCompanies and Facebook

Malcolm Reading Consultants
London-based Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) is a strategic architectural consultancy which specializes in the selection of contemporary designers. MRC believes in the power of design to create new perceptions and act as an inspiration – whether at the local level, or internationally.
The consultancy offers a service to find the very best designers for clients with capital projects, whether through open-international, or private-invited competitions. Recent competitions include those for the Guggenheim Helsinki, the Art Mill, Qatar, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s Culture & Education Quarter, the Mumbai City Museum, the UK Pavilion at Milan Expo 2015 and New College, Oxford.

3 September 2015


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