Who’s Up for a Challenge?

Ginger Thompson

January 20, 2017

It began as a need – participating in design challenges. The thrill. The pressure. Critique becomes the fix…like a drug. Feedback courses through the design brain, sometimes numbing, sometimes exciting; gone with the announcement of the challenge winner.

I love it. Design opportunities can be hard to come by as emerging professionals, but that design muscle still wants to be flexed, worked out, sculpted.

The Placer County Animal Shelter was nearing completion. How cool would it be if they had some dog house plans to offer their new animal parents? Designer dog houses. Hmmm. Well, animal houses, really (to avoid creature discrimination). We could even create some equal opportunity scaled models, complete with simple plan sets for easy reproduction and construction.

Oh my, I feel an office contest coming on…

The contest ran for three weeks. Submissions were a physical model accompanied by 8.5” x 11” format graphical plan set. Participants struggled to juggle real life project deadlines (there were three major ones at the time) with contest build time. I struggled simply to manage the contest I was trying to compete in.

_mg_2774Judgement day took place during our “official” D+B “Take Your Dog To Work Day” (unofficially, we take our dogs to work much more often). Outside, the dozen dogs at the event played games with employees and families. Inside, the competing models and plan sets were discussed by the judges: a contractor, a structural engineer, a design principal, and a professional pet caregiver. Each model was a different interpretation on a traditional idea. The winner would be judged on constructability, structural integrity, and a design that responded to the animals.

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I worked through the night to build with my available materials. True to last minute pushes, my focus on craft dwindled as morning drew closer. All submissions remained anonymous and the critiques were compiled and announced to everyone. I did not win…but I participated.

I flexed my design muscle, even for a short, stress-laden instant. It was exhilarating, exhausting, humbling, and wonderful.

I’m ready to do it again.

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