Civic Continuum: The 2049 Library

Civic libraries are evolving—quickly. Virtual access to information, has radically transformed how we work, communicate, and connect to one another. The library has pivoted from a passive collection of books and media to an active space for experience, inspiration, and gathering. In other words, the library transformed from “collection to connection.”

This year, we invited participants to picture the year 2049 and re-imagine civic space through the lens of the library. Teams were asked to develop a thesis that illustrates a shift in the civic library in response to a global challenge, and had to work within one of three scales: interior, building, or urban.

About the Competition

We believe in the power of great design. In its extraordinary ability to enhance lives. In its unique potential to solve some of society’s greatest challenges. As designers, we have an awesome responsibility to use that power wisely—to make the world a better, more beautiful place.

That’s why, every year, we ask our staff to participate a time-honored Perkins&Will tradition. Our annual internal design competition, now in its 19th year, provides the chance to collaborate with colleagues near and far in pursuit of design excellence. United toward a common purpose, multidisciplinary teams from around the firm innovate design solutions to some of society’s most pressing problems. The process stretches our creative and design thinking skills to their limits, and gives all of us the invaluable opportunity to learn from each other. And time after time, the results are contagiously inspirational.

The Jury

Chief Museum Officer & Director,
Museum of Solutions Mumbai
Director, Mario Gooden Studio GSAPP Professor, Interim Director of the March Program Columbia New York City
Chair & Professor of Architecture, UC Berkeley, Founder, IwamotoScott Architecture San Francisco
Chief Librarian & Chief Innovation Officer, National Library Board Singapore
Founder / Design Principal of Vector Architects Foreign Member of French Academy of Architecture
Founder & Director, Rozana Montiel Estudio de Arquitectura Mexico City

Lasting Legacy

The competition is named in honor or our late friend and colleague Phil Freelon. Phil was a lifelong champion of beautiful, democratic design—of architecture that honors humanity. He was one of the most influential architects in recent history, and one of North America’s most beloved. He passed away in July 2019.

Over his 42-year-long career, Phil broke down socioeconomic and cultural barriers by designing places that express the spirit of community, promote cultural equity, and spur positive social change. He stood for everything our annual design competition stands for. And every year, he was an active and enthusiastic reviewer of the competition’s entries. Phil’s contributions helped make our annual tradition even stronger, our firmwide design culture even more robust.

Today, the Phil Freelon Design Competition reminds us of our shared values, and ensures that Phil’s influence on our firm, our culture, and our work will live on. We encourage you to take advantage of this unique opportunity, and look forward to seeing what you design.