A design competition and installation, unchARTed is sponsored by Downtown Frederick Partnership in cooperation with the Potomac Valley Architecture Foundation, AIA Potomac Valley and the Frederick Arts Council.

The Partnership is a historic preservation based, economic development nonprofit that works to enhance, promote and preserve the vitality and livability of Downtown Frederick, a national Main Street community. Downtown Frederick is a dynamic and vibrant home to more than 200 retailers/restaurants, a robust arts community and beautiful historic architecture. As a whole, Frederick County welcomes more than 1.4 million visitors each year, the majority of whom spend some time in Downtown Frederick. The downtown also is home to about 7,000 residents.

This competition will result in design installations in specific alleys that will better link the urban fabric of the downtown together. The alleys are dynamic places of movement, rather than focal points. They create the opportunity to knit together Downtown Frederick from within. As a result, this design competition is focused on the following goals: attract locals and visitors to Downtown Frederick, activate the sometimes-forgotten between spaces in Downtown Frederick and create stimulating interactive experiences that are memorable.

The Competition in Brief

Participation in the competition is free and open to everyone. All are encouraged to submit their ideas for design installations in pre-identified Downtown Frederick alleys. Entrants are asked to design a spatial installation that can be used for public events and activities. The design must be safe for general public use and be able to function unattended. The design must be able to be constructed within a seven day time frame. Entrants can pre-fabricate a portion of the installation off-site prior to the seven day time frame.

The winning entrants will build their entries using the prize money. The winning installations will be in place for one year, during which time they will serve as the site of various public events and community activities. unchARTed also will be the focus of significant publicity efforts.

The design installation proposal should activate alleyway spaces in Downtown Frederick, create interactive experiences that are memorable and create stronger connections within Downtown Frederick. Entrants need to consider their ability to construct the project. The Partnership will grant up to three awards of $10,000 each. Selection will focus on design installations that have a high level of design quality, relate to the specific site and best meet the design criteria.


All are invited to participate in the unchARTed design competition from anywhere in the world. Entrants can submit either individually or as a team. Teams have no maximum number of members. Entrants (either an individual or a team) may submit more than one submission. Each submission must be the original work of the entrant and must not have been previously published.


Digital submissions only. No hard copies will be accepted. Submissions must be uploaded by Monday, November 4, 2019 (11:59 EST). Follow the online instructions for completing the registration form. Entrants will remain anonymous throughout the judging process. When uploading submission documents (such as drawings, plans, etc.) all attachments should be free of any identifying information (i.e. do not label files with your name). If an entrant plans to apply for more than one alley, a separate submission form will be required for the second and any additional alleys.

Project submissions must include:

  1. Design Board: One landscape oriented 36” wide by 24” high design board in a pdf format should be uploaded. The drawings included on the board should help the Jury fully understand the overall concept as well as the specific details and impacts of the proposed design. It is suggested that the drawings include a site plan, sections and/or elevations, perspective views and vignettes for details. Keep in mind that the Jury will be reviewing the entries digitally.
  2. Project Narrative: In a maximum of 500 words, you are encouraged to address how the project will be implemented.
  3. Budget: Entrants will provide an order of magnitude budget illustrating the feasibility of building the proposal.

Project submissions may include (optional):

  1. Additional Media: At your option, entrants can include up to three web links to other media. These web links need to maintain the anonymity of the submission.

Competition Materials: Competition Requirements / Competition Schedule / Alley Maps / Terms and Conditions


The selection process includes three steps.

Step 1: Design Jury — The Design Jury will review all entries for design quality. The Jury will select and rank the top entries.

Step 2: Local Panel — The Local Panel will review the feasibility of the top entries. Review may include an interview with the selected entrants which can be completed remotely. After completing this review, the identities of the top entrants will be revealed. Public announcements will be issued by the Partnership.

Step 3: Partnership — The Partnership will attempt to obtain and pay for all necessary approvals and permits to construct the Design Award Winners. Certain minor revisions or clarifications to the design may be necessary in order to obtain those approvals. If approval is obtained, then the Design Award Winners will have the opportunity to accept the revisions (if any) or decline to further participate in this program. If the Winner declines to participate, or if approval is not obtained or is deemed by the Partnership to be highly unlikely, then Partnership reserves the right to discontinue their efforts to obtain those approvals, and relaunch that process using the Runner Up’s design entry.


Up to three alley projects will be funded for implementation. Upon obtaining required project approvals, the entrant will be awarded the initial $5,000 for project use. Upon completion of construction, the entrant will be awarded an additional $5,000. The Winning Entrants will be required to travel to Frederick, MD to construct, and 12 months later to deconstruct, their design. No additional funds (other than the prize) will be made available to compensate distant winners for their travel costs and/or accommodations.

The Partnership will promote the finalists throughout the year on the organization’s website and social media channels.

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