Drylands Design Competition: Rethinking the Future of the American West

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“Growing population has increased the burden on our water supply. There are more people on earth than ever, and in many places we are using water at unsustainable rates. Cultural shifts contribute to subtle, far-reaching effects on water supplies.” (The Great Aridification; New York Times, July 17, 2011)

Water scarcity is both the history and the future of the American west. Re-thinking water use, particularly in the face of climate change, will be central to the region’s survival. The work exceeds the grasp of a single discipline, and touches all dimensions of the way people live and work. Sustaining the US West in the face of water scarcity and hydrologic variability brought on by climate change will require strategic architectures, infrastructures, and urbanisms that promote adaptation and resilience.

The California Architectural Foundation, in partnership with the Arid Lands Institute at Woodbury University and the AIACC Academy for Emerging Professionals, is seeking solutions to these problems through the 2011-2012 William Turnbull Competition: Drylands Design: An Open Ideas Competition for Retrofitting the American West. Design teams are invited to generate progressive proposals that suggest to policy makers and the public creative alternatives for the American west, ideas that may be replicated throughout the West.

The Challenge: New architectures, infrastructures, and landscapes for retrofitting the American West. Visit drylandscompetition.org for complete brief.

The Site: Anywhere in the US, west of the 100th Meridian.

Who’s Eligible: Open to professionals and students from around the world in architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, urban design, and other disciplines.


Competition briefing – via online webinar September 21, 2011
Entries – Due December 15, 2011

Awards: Winners will be awarded research grants and access to a team of policy + technical advisors, to advance their proposals.

Winners will deliver proposals at the International Drylands Design Conference, Los Angeles, March 2012.

Selected entries will be included in a traveling exhibition, opening at the A+D Museum, Los Angeles, March 2012.

For more information and to register click here



The AIACC represents the interests of more than 11,000 architects and allied professionals in California. Founded in 1944, The AIACC's mission supports architects in their endeavors to improve the quality of life for all Californians by creating more livable communities, sustainable designs and quality work environments.

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