NOTE: The registration deadline for Taking Buildings Down has been extended until Wednesday, January 20th.




What does it mean to build? Traditionally, building has been defined as the assembly of parts or materials toward the creation of a whole. While to build is often perceived as an Apollonian pursuit, to destroy appears to be its Dionysian counterpart. Understanding that our built environment is the product of many forces, it can dialectically be reduced to the tensions between creation and destruction, addition and subtraction, and erection and demolition.
In a design culture focused on the superlative (the tallest, the newest, the priciest), in which destruction is often perceived of or produced by an act of violence, the processes of removal appear as secondary concerns or collateral damage. However, if we are to better understand the life cycles of our built environment, we must explore the possibilities and implications of Taking Buildings Down.
This competition of ideas is simultaneously a political act, a means of criticism, and a method of speculation.
Taking Buildings Down asks proposals for the production of voids; the demolition of buildings, structures, and infrastructures; or the subtraction of objects and/or matter as a creative act. Removal is all that is allowed.



This call is open to anyone interested in articulating visions for the future of our built environment.



Each proposal should consider and present three items:


1)  A pre-existing current condition

2)  A process of removal

3)  A resultant condition of removal


Proposals should consider contemporary contexts. There are no limitations in scale or scope. The focus of the proposal may be on the process of removal, the resultant condition, or both.


Projects will be judged on their ambition, vision, methodology, and clarity.



Three monetary prizes will be awarded to the winners of Taking Buildings Down. These include:


1st Prize: $2000

2nd Prize: $1000

3rd Prize:  $500



Winning entries and any additional entries deemed to be worthy of publication will be included in a printed competition compendium released by Storefront for Art and Architecture.



Below are answers to questions we have received:

Q: Does the submission require both physical and digital copies be submitted?

A: Yes.

Q: Can the format of the submission be Landscape orientation?

A: Yes, as long as the size is 8.5″ x 11″.

Q: I want to submit a video, but file upload limit is 15MB, how do I do this?

A: Please submit a PDF with a still frame image and a link to download the video through Vimeo, YouTube, or your preferred web service.



Jeff Byles

Jeff Byles is the author of Rubble: Unearthing the History of Demolition, a wide-ranging investigation of “unbuilding” as a culture-shaping force. Deeply engaged in public design and its role as a catalyst for cultural innovation, Jeff has explored the built environment in his nearly 20 years as a writer, journalist, editor, and urban thinker. Jeff’s expertise in public design includes leadership roles at Van Alen Institute, where he oversaw research initiatives focused on urban form and well-being and helped lead design competitions and public programs devoted to transforming cities and public spaces. 


Through his role in the design and consulting practice Being Here, Jeff works at the intersection of site and society to inspire ecological, social, and economic vitality in communities through creative collaboration. Jeff is the co-author of A History of Design from the Victorian Era to the Present, and he has lectured internationally on architecture, landscape, and the future of the city. Since 2014, Jeff has served as President of The Fine Arts Federation of New York, an advocate for design excellence in New York City and beyond.

Keller Easterling

Keller Easterling is an architect, writer and professor at Yale University. Her most recent book, Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space, examines global infrastructure networks as a medium of polity. Another recent book, Subtraction, considers building removal or how to put the development machine into reverse. An ebook essay, The Action is the Form: Victor Hugo’s TED Talk previews some of the arguments in Extrastatecraft.


Other books include: Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and its Political Masquerades, which researched familiar spatial products in difficult or hyperbolic political situations around the world, and Organization Space: Landscapes, Highways and Houses in America, which applied network theory to a discussion of American infrastructure.


Easterling is also the co-author (with Richard Prelinger) of Call it Home: The House that Private Enterprise Built, a laserdisc/DVD history of US suburbia from 1934–1960. She has published web installations including: Extrastatecraft, Wildcards: a Game of Orgman and Highline: Plotting NYC. Easterling’s research and writing was included in the 2014 Venice Biennale, and she has been exhibited at the Rotterdam Biennale and the Architectural League in New York, among other venues. Easterling has lectured and published widely in the United States and abroad. The journals to which she has contributed include Domus, Artforum, Grey Room, Cabinet, Volume, Assemblage, e-flux, Log, Praxis, Harvard Design Magazine, Perspecta, and ANY.


Pedro Gadanho

Pedro Gadanho is the Artistic Director of the forthcoming Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) in Lisbon, Portugal. Previously, he served as Curator of Contemporary Art and Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.During his time with MoMA, Gadanho was involved in the Young Architects Program (YAP), whim aims to foster new ideas in young architects through installations at MoMA PS1, the MAXXXI Museum, the Istanbul Modern Museum, and CONSTRUCTO


From 2000 to 2011, Gadanho was a professor and architecture faculty member at the University of Porto in Porto, Portugal. He also previously served as director and curator for ExperiementaDesign for three years.


Gadanho attended Politecnico di Milano before earning his master’s degree at the University of Kent and his Ph.D in architecture and mass media from the University of Porto.


Jorge Otero-Pailos

Jorge Otero-Pailos (b. 1971) works at the intersection of art, architecture and preservation. He has been exhibited at major museums, festivals, galleries, and foundations; notably, Manifesta7 and the 53rd Venice Art Biennial. In 2009, he was listed as one of ten young Spanish artists to watch in Architectural Digest and was featured that same year in the BBC TV’s documentary Ugly Beauty alongside Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor, Carl Andre, and Yoko Ono. He has received awards from major art, architecture, and preservation organizations, including the Kress Foundation, the Graham Foundation, the Fitch Foundation, and the Canadian Center for Architecture. In 2012, he received the UNESCO Eminent Professional Award. He is a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences of Puerto Rico.


Otero-Pailos studied architecture at Cornell University and holds a PhD from MIT.  He is Associate Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture in New York. He is the founder and editor of the journal Future Anterior



Annabelle Selldorf

Annabelle Selldorf is the Principal of Selldorf Architects, a 65-person architectural practice that she founded in New York City in 1988. The firm has worked on public and private projects that range from museums and libraries to exhibition design and a recycling facility. 

Selldorf Architects recently completed the Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility, a new recycling facility and education center on the Brooklyn waterfront. The firm’s renovation of The Clark’s Museum Building in Williamstown, Massachusetts opened to critical acclaim in 2014. Selldorf has designed numerous galleries including the ground-up 30,000 SF LEED Gold building for David Zwirner on West 20th Street, as well as projects for Hauser & Wirth, Barbara Gladstone, and Gagosian among others. 
Ms. Selldorf designed the installation of the 2013 Venice Biennale at the Arsenale in collaboration with curator Massimiliano Gioni. Selldorf Architects is currently designing an expansion for the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and Luma Arles, a new center for contemporary art in France. Born and raised in Germany, Ms. Selldorf came to the United States to study architecture and received degrees from Pratt Institute and Syracuse University. Ms. Selldorf is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and serves on the Board of the Architectural League of New York and the Chinati Foundation.


David Bench (INCA) is a registered architect in New York. He works for Selldorf Architects, where he is project architect for the Luma Foundation in Arles, France, the Mwabwindo School in Zambia for the 14+ Foundation, and a private residence.  He is interested in the intersection of architecture and politics, and has explored these themes in writings for Uncube and Clog and in seminars at Abrons Art Center. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and Yale University.


Jonathan Chesley (INCA) works as a designer at Selldorf Architects in New York City. He first became interested in demolition while completing his MArch at the University Oregon. He assisted his Professor Erin Moore in researching notable architectural projects designed to consider the full lifecycle of buildings. These concepts informed his design work focused around the role of temporary and mobile architectures on the evolution of urban form. After graduation, he collaborated on a design/build project on the St. Lawrence River in which a boat house was renovated into a guest house. This served as the first practical application of ideas surrounding deconstruction. Other structures on the property were harvested for building materials. This slow removal was in the interest of the site’s landscape ecology. Along with working at Selldorf, Jonathan is an active volunteer of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and Arts East New York, organizations that promote the social, cultural, and natural ecology of the city. Through these experiences, he continues to explore the pragmatic and conceptual effects of creation and destruction on urban morphology.


Winning entries will be announced in February 2016.



Registration is now closed. For questions please contact



Applicants will submit an application package. The package should be in 8 1/2″ x 11″ page portrait layout, with no more than 20 single-sided pages. It should be delivered in the following formats:


– A digital PDF (15 MB or less), uploaded to the competition platform no later than 11:59 p.m. on January 20th, 2016.


– A bound proposal documentation book, delivered no later than January 21st, 2016 at 6 pm to Storefront’s office at 611 Broadway, Suite 634, New York, NY 10012. Proposals received after this date and time will not be accepted. (Note that Storefront’s office is located at a different address from its gallery space).




Physical applications must be packaged in a sealed envelope with registration number written clearly and legibly on the outside. The package should contain the following contents:



Please fill out and include the cover sheet as the first page of your submission. Access the Cover Sheet.



Please include the following materials in a bound letter-size booklet (maximum 20 pages, including supplemental material):


  1. Application Cover (with proposal title and registration number)
  2. Location/Context
  3. Mission Statement (500 words or less)
  4. Three images/plans/diagrams depicting:
  1. The current condition
  2. The process and methodology of removal
  3. The resultant condition



Participants can submit support material in the following formats:


  • Videos (maximum 3 minutes in length)
  • Models (maximum size 10”x10”x10”)
  • Additional documentation material as considered essential by the applicants (maximum 10 pages)



Thursday, November 5————————Competition Launch

Tuesday, December 1————————-Deadline for Submission of Questions

Tuesday, December 22———————–Publication of Questions and Answers

Tuesday, January 12————————–Registration Deadline

Wednesday, January 20———————-Digital Submission Deadline

Thursday, January 21————————-Physical Submission Deadline

Late February / Early March—————–Results Announced



Entrants may not communicate with members of the Jury about the competition in any way or form until there is a public announcement of the winner.


No partner, associate, or employee of any Jury member may participate in the competition.


Any entrant who violates these rules will be disqualified.



Digital submissions must be entered through the competition platform by January 20th, 2016 at 11:59 pm.


Physical submissions must be delivered to the Storefront for Art and Architecture office on or before January 21st, 2016 between 11 am and 6 pm EST.


Please note the office address below:


Storefront for Art and Architecture

611 Broadway, Suite 634

New York, NY 10012


Mailed submissions must arrive at the office by the submission deadline (note that the deadline is the date of receipt, not a postmark date).



Winning entries will be announced in February 2016.



Participants interested in additional academic, cultural, and philosophical references can consult the Taking Buildings Down bibliography (created by INCA):



Copyrights for project submissions shall remain the property of the author.


Submitted materials shall not be released nor exposed to the public, press, or other media before the announcement of a winning entry or the cancellation of the Competition. Applicants who violate this will be disqualified.


Participants agree to permit Storefront to use the submitted materials in public posts, publications, or exhibitions, or for archival, promotional, educational, and other purposes at its discretion. The Jury and/or Storefront for Art and Architecture reserve the right to cancel or suspend the Competition for any reason, including those causes beyond the organizer’s control that could corrupt the administration, security, or proper participation in the Competition.


Storefront for Art and Architecture assumes no responsibility for postal, email, electronic, technical, or natural conditions that prevent the receipt or judging of a Competition submission or any part thereof.


Storefront for Art and Architecture reserves the right to amend these Guidelines at any time without notice.


No information contained in submissions shall be deemed confidential and such information may be shared with other governmental entities. Therefore, please do not submit any information that may be deemed proprietary in nature. Competition sponsors shall not be liable for any costs incurred by any respondent in the preparation, submittal, presentation, or revision of its submission. Competition sponsors shall not be obligated to pay and shall not pay any costs in connection with the preparation of such submissions.



This competition is curated by INCA, the winners of the Special Prize for Storefront’s Competition of Competitions. INCA is a collaboration between David Bench and Jonathan Chesley, architects at Selldorf Architects in New York who have an interest in conceptual work as a complement to practice.


You can read more about the competition and the winners here:



Launched in 2013, Storefront for Art and Architecture’s “Competition of Competitions” asks participants to create a brief that formulates the questions of our time and defines the agents that should pursue the task of commissioning visions for the future.


The competition provides a space for critical thought about the way competitions and commissions are organized, and allows participants to rethink the structure, content, and stakeholders of competition briefs. In doing so, participants deliver new and provocative forms of engagement with the economic, political, and social context surrounding the development of our cities.


For more information, please see: