Courtesy of American Institute of Architects The American Institute of Architects have released the winning films for the 2018 Film Challenge. As part of the institute's larger Blueprint for Better campaign, the film challenge asked participants to produce, shoot, and edit 3 to 5 minute documentary-style short films. The AIA invited architects and filmmakers to collaborate in telling stories of architects, civic leaders and communities working together toward positive community impact. This year’s film submissions covered a variety of topics, including affordable housing, social impact issues, preservation and sustainability. Grand prize, runner up and third place recipients were selected by a panel of judges made up of architects and film/media professionals while the People’s Choice Award was selected through votes cast by the public. Each of the Blueprint for Better stories were entered to win cash and experiential prizes, distribution at film festivals, and exposure on AIA’s online channels.
Grand Prize – Past/Presence: Saving the Spring Garden School
The Spring Garden School No. 1 in North Philadelphia had been sitting vacant and abandoned for nearly 30 years before the Philadelphia Housing Authority teamed with the non-profit Help USA to convert the property into affordable housing for low-income senior citizens and homeless veterans. Since 2013 the school district of Philadelphia has sold off over 20 properties and although some have been converted into market-rate apartments and condominiums, the Spring Garden School is the only one that offers affordable units to an under-served population. Now known as the Lural L. Blevins Center the building has 37 units and also offers social services including health care, counseling and employment opportunities to its residents. Philadelphia is currently experiencing a massive building boom and people are worried about the city losing its neighborhoods and its character. The question I plan to explore in the short piece is how can a city be forward looking and preserve its past?
Runner Up – A Joyful Gathering Place
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The architects at Robert P. Madison International are on a mission to renovate and restore the historical Karamu House, the oldest operating African American Theatre in the United States. Joining forces with the Karamu House organization, Sandra Madison and her team are driven by a shared vision to foster community and revitalize the surrounding neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio.
Third Place – ChildSafe: Designed to Heal
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In Bexar County, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday; almost one-third are not old enough to attend kindergarten. Disturbingly, San Antonio continues to have the highest proportionate rate of confirmed child abuse cases of all major, metropolitan cities in Texas. ChildSafe is a nonprofit organization that helps restore dignity, hope, and trust to those children who have been traumatized by abuse and neglect. In 2016, ChildSafe found themselves in a building that was too small to sustain their growing support programs and their increase in staff. They enlisted the help of San Antonio architecture firm Overland Partners to build a new, state-of-the-art campus. This new facility would allow the organization to incorporate multiple government agencies such as health professionals, state agencies, law enforcement, and legal teams under one roof. Inspired by ChildSafe’s unique mission, Overland embraced the opportunity to create a building that could serve as a catalyst for human transformation.
People’s Choice Award – Ka Hale: A Revival
Architect and Kumu Francis Palani Sinenci leads the revival of ancient Hawaiian hale building in an effort to save indigenous cultural practices. Winners will officially premiere at the following events: Oct. 16 – “Past/Presence: Saving the Spring Garden School” screens at the opening night of the Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF) in New York. Oct. 16-21 – “A Joyful Gathering Place” and “ChildSafe: Designed to Heal” will screen throughout ADFF. Oct. 18 – “Ka Hale: A Revival” screens at Chicago Ideas, an annual festival in Chicago. Winning films to be screened at Architecture & Design Film Festival and Chicago Ideas event. Both the Grand Prize Winner and People’s Choice Award receive a cash prize of $5,000 and trips to New York City and Chicago, respectively.
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