Salt Lake City Interrotta: An Ideas Competition

by Paul Knight. Average Reading Time: about 2 minutes.

May 22, 2013 Update: Click here for the design submissions that were received. Thanks to all the participants!

You have just been selected to participate in an ideas competition which is open exclusively to those who finish reading this sentence. Congratulations and thank you for your forthcoming entry.

The 21st Congress for the New Urbanism will be May 29 to June 1 in Salt Lake City, Utah, the hometown of the Mormon grid. At 660 feet (10 chains) on a side, each block is exactly 10 acres. The size of Salt Lake City’s blocks has proven to be a challenge to its urbanism. Everything from walkability to standard development sizes have struggled with the 660’ dimension: the blocks are just too big and the lots too deep, especially when compared to other American cities. Most of these large blocks are divided with access drives and are internally oriented by dimensional necessity, but there is plenty of room for improvement. This is where you come in.

A few cases in point:




This competition was inspired by Roma Interrotta, an ideas competition that took place in 1978. In that year, twelve architects including the Krier brothers and Michael Graves were tasked with re-imagining Rome. They were each given one section of Nolli’s famous map to reconfigure. Their individual design philosophies were revealed through their drawings. That is the goal for Salt Lake City Interrotta.

You are tasked with designing a single 660′ block. You may explore any aspect of urbanism you wish (e.g., subdivision of the block, big box, park design, mixed-use enclave of medieval form, etc.). While you cannot alter the surrounding 132′ right-of-way, you are free to do as you please within the 660’ block. Feel free to interrupt the block; you just cannot interrupt the grid.

Competition Rules

  1. Design One 660’ x 660’ Block
    You may choose to either reconfigure a particular, existing block or start with a tabula rasa. The surrounding 132’ right-of-way cannot be altered because all competition entries will be appended together into one continuous grid (curb cuts are an obvious exception).
  2. Plan Drawings Only
    Roof plans, floor plans, or parti plans.
  3. Scale: 1”=50’ or 1″=100′
    Feel free to use either a 50′ or 100′ scale, but keep in mind that all submitted drawings will be uniformly scaled to 1″=50’. The block at 1″=50′ is 13.2″ square (an awkward print size) while the block at 1″=100′ is 6.6″ square (perhaps too small to show a lot of detail).
  4. Black and White Only
    Greyscale is OK, too. The point is to have some level of visual consistency across all submissions.
  5. Open Presentation Format
    Pen, pencil, or digital; quick sketch, simple line drawing, or beautiful rendering.
  6. Identifying Information
    Your name, etc., should be added somewhere within your 660′ block. While other labels/texts may also be placed within your block, no separate, explanatory text will be accepted outside the 660′ property line. To the greatest extent possible the drawings should speak for themselves.
  7. Drawing Template
    Please download this JPG template file which shows the limits of your block. Your drawing should include the curb but go no further. You do not have to use this template in your submission, but you may want to use it as a guide for your drawing.
  8. Submit a JPG File <4mb with 300 ppi resolution
    All submissions will fall under the terms of Creative Commons’ Attribution License.
  9. File Naming Format
    Begin your file name with 2013 Interrotta and include your first name, last name, and/or firm/school name after that.
  10. Deadline is Friday, May 17, 2013
    All submissions will be featured in digital format at TheGreatAmericanGrid.com. Thanks to the generosity of Historical Concepts they will also be displayed in poster format at the CNU conference.

  11. Email Submissions To:

While this is being called a competition, there are no judges and there are no prizes. If anything, our future generations will be your judge and digital posterity will be your prize.

As a follow-up to this competition, please join CNU NextGen at the conference for an open studio and design workshop:

Engaging the Plat of Zion: A Jam Session
Wednesday 9-5
Hundreds of New Urbanists. One city block. Endless possibilities.
To grapple with Salt Lake City, we will design prototypical blocks and thoroughfares for the Plat of Zion. Rural to urban, ag-urban to sprawl repair–come tackle a basic urban element, learn from an old tradition, and show your stuff.

Competition Sponsor

HC Logo

10 comments on ‘Salt Lake City Interrotta: An Ideas Competition’

  1. Steve Mouzon says:

    I’m in! Great idea!

  2. Michael Hathorne says:

    Where will the “jam session” be taking place?

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