Airport Design Competition Winner Announced

by Whatsblem the Pro

Image: EcoLogic Design Lab

Image: EcoLogic Design Lab

The winning entry in the 2013 Burning Man Airport Terminal and Pilot’s Lounge Design Competition has been announced; the design chosen by a panel of judges was submitted by architect Ross Smith of San Francisco.

Thomas Rettenwender of EcoLogic Design Lab, the firm that judged the contest, writes:

After reviewing all the submitted projects received from around the world (including Shanghai, Austria, Canada, San Francisco, Hamburg, Columbus, Holland, … ) the judges had a difficult job of selecting the winning projects. Every single entry had interesting concepts and ideas to review and evaluate. Conditions in the Blackrock Desert are extreme, many projects may have been just to beautiful to subject to this degree of abuse ! Usually architects/designers want their buildings to fly, the concern of course is that the structures flyaway. The ability to assemble the structure under winds and sand storms made the designs with fewer parts stand out. There was also the desire to find an iconic shape that looked impressive from the sky and from the ground. After several weeks of review about ten projects were brought to the Burningman Headquarters, Market St. San Francisco and over the course of several hours of bagels, coconut water and vicious debate the final projects had to be selected – Our wish, however was to see all these projects being built – flying, blowing, flapping, tumbling, shining, rising up across the playa – and we hope the designers out there continue to pursue this goal. Good Luck and Congratulations to all entrants. We are grateful for the participation. We were very impressed with all the hard work they put in to the entries. It was an honor to review the designs.


Image: EcoLogic Design Lab

Image: EcoLogic Design Lab

Ross Smith’s design won accolades from the judges for its iconic shape, which will be easily recognizable to pilots from the air; it’s canny re-purposing of its own shipping containers as anchors; the lightweight, easy-to-install design; the small number of parts, and the mobility of the ‘wings,’ which can be dropped to shelter the interior in case of dust storms.

The rest of the competition results have been posted at EcoLogic Design Lab’s website.

The competition was judged by Thom Faulders, Eric Corey Freed, Michael Twing, Steve Ramseur, Thomas Rettenwender and Luke Lukoskie.

Georgia’s Burning!

The Alchemy 2012 Burn Report

by Whatsblem the Pro


Alchemy, the Georgia Regional Burn, has just released their 2012 Burn Report. Tolstoy it ain’t, but to anyone interested in the logistics that go into a good burn, it’s a fascinating read. Those of you planning large-scale art projects will also find some solid grist for your mills therein.

I for one am impressed. Alchemy 2012 came in nearly $7,000 under budget, and generated revenue of $49,727.33 for Alchemy LLC, the co-op that runs the event. The degree of willing transparency demonstrated by their sometimes very candid comments in their Burn Report stand as an inspiration to all of us to take responsibility for our shortcomings. For instance:

“We did not have enough Rangers to work perimeter. The back half was only watched by two members of APW and two Rangers.”

“During fueling of the Effigy someone with a lit cigarette was able to enter the Perimeter.”

“Paper lanterns were being set up by the crowd- there were blowing right at the effigy while it was fueled.”

“We had our first runner. He did not get very far in and was grabbed by a Ranger. He turned out to be a very intoxicated minor who snuck into the event. I rode with Officer Denny to return the kid to his home and we spoke to his father about what happened.”

You can’t fix things without acknowledging that they’re broken first, and our brothers and sisters in Georgia seem to understand that well.


The Alchemy 2012 Burn Report is also well-stocked with positives; Section III, Innovations and Improvements for 2012, is particularly instructive, and again, the candid nature and expansiveness of the comments are not only valuable for other event planners and project leads, they show a commitment to open honesty and constant improvement that we can all take a lesson from.


Alchemy 2012 Burn Report