The Sustainable Land Lab Competition is intended to educate and inspire the St. Louis region to think differently about how we use vacant land.  Competition organizers are looking for big ideas that test existing notions, while moving towards sustainable solutions that can be tested through a two year demonstration project.   Successful projects will be responsive to the unique context of each lot, as well as the neighborhood context.

Get Local!

Participants are strongly encouraged to walk the sites and surrounding neighborhood.  If teams would like to learn more about the neighborhood context, contact:

Old North St. Louis Restoration Group ( at 314-241-5031 or

Get Inspired!

For further inspiration and information on vacant land, links and resources are provided in the resources section of this website.

Submission concepts will be judged on the following criteria in each round:




December 10, 2012  Round I: Open call for ideas & team qualifications2-page overview of concept for selected site and team qualifications, optional single image or 3-minute video
  • Creativity of concept, innovative solution
  • Connectivity to City sustainability plan and regional context
  • Integration of diverse factors, including, but not limited to water, food, energy, waste, social justice, art, economy and community
  • Response to unique site characteristics and local community context
  • Team qualifications

 Additional credit for:

  • Replicable idea
  • Scalability of concept
 January 28, 2013 Round II: Selected teamsConcept board and preliminary implementation plan, optional 3-minute video  All criteria from round one, and:

  • Clarity of how project concept will translate into a physical demonstration project
  • Considerations of communications about the project and community engagement
  • Commitment to implementation and maintenance of proposed project, including anticipated resource needs and potential sources
  • Clear statement of intended outcomes
  • Ability to gauge success across domains of environment, social and economic impact
 March 18, 2013 Round III: Selected teamsFinal concept board including detailed site plan, implementation /maintenance plan, 2-year project budget, and short presentation to the jury.  All criteria from round two, and:

  • Ability to work within & leverage budget of $5,000, with earmark for O&M
  • Plan for project ramp up, maintenance, and take down
  • Secured partnership commitments and sponsorships to support full proposal implementation



There are three rounds of jury review, with an overall competition timeframe of six months.  Teams are required to register and submit online.  Round 1 submissions are open to the public and must be completed by 11:59 pm of December 10, 2012.


Submission Format

Submission text must be in English.  Entrants confirm that the submitted material is their own original or collaborative work, does not infringe upon any copyright law, and that they have permission to publish all of the material submitted.

Round 1 (All registrants): 
Entrants must register and submit materials online at:

Registration includes information about team, one contact person, site selection, and a brief summary of the team/idea (200 words max).

Submissions must include a brief overview of the idea and team qualifications (up to two 8.5 x 11 page pdf) and may include 1 image (any orientation; 8.5 x 11 pdf) or a link to a 3-minute maximum video (must be a link, no video files will be accepted).

Round 2 (Up to 15 Selected Teams):

Submissions must include a demonstration project concept delivered as a single 24” x 36” layout (any orientation; JPG or PDF format; 20 MB max file size) and may include a link to a 3-minute maximum video (must be a link, no video files will be accepted).  Submissions must also include a tentative project implementation plan (up to two 8.5 x 11 page pdf).

All round two teams must have at least one member present at the competition charrette on January 12, 2013 at the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group gallery.  Competition sponsors and advisors will present key considerations, and teams will have opportunities to network and gather information from the community, public and private sector organizations and sponsors.

Round 3 (Up to 8 Selected Teams): 

Submissions must include a final refined concept, including a site plan, delivered as a single 24” x 36” layout (any orientation; JPG or PDF format; 20 MB max file size), a final project implementation/maintenance plan (up to four 8.5 x 11 page pdf), and a 2-year project budget.  Round 3 teams will also present to the jury in a private reception for all round 3 teams.  Presentations should follow the Pecha Kucha format of 20 slides, 20 seconds for each slide, for a total of 6 minutes 40 seconds.  Presentations will be followed by a 5-minute jury Q&A.

Important Notes

24” x 36” layouts may range from a single or multiple images, designed text, or a combination.

Images may be reduced in resolution or compressed to meet file size limitations, but must be submitted in the required formats (no zip files).


Full project implementation and ongoing site maintenance will be critical to the success of the Sustainable Land Lab.  Therefore, project teams should carefully consider the human, material, and financial resources required when assembling teams, designing projects, and securing in-kind support.  Successful teams must demonstrate the commitment and ability to implement the proposed project and maintain the site as proposed in the project submission for 2 years.

Project teams will agree to report quarterly updates on progress of the project and allow competition organizers access to the demonstration project for the purposes of project documentation and education.

Project teams are responsible for obtaining any applicable permits or licenses that may be required to carry out the demonstration project.  Project teams are also responsible for complying with local ordinances.  The competition organizers will work with teams to explore the possibility of waivers and/or variances, if the existing code does not allow for implementation of certain project components.

All project sites are within the Murphy Blair National Register Historic District.  If a project proposal is considering elements that touch or include a wall of an adjacent building, the team should consult with RHCDA, the managing partner of the adjacent buildings.  Please contact Stephen Acree, Executive Director at 314-333-7001 or

In the event that the winning teams are unable to implement or maintain the projects as proposed, the lessor will have the ability to terminate the lease.  Project teams will be given ample opportunity to address any concerns that do arise.  All project partners are committed to the success of the Sustainable Land Lab – lease termination will be a last resort.  The lease agreements will clearly outline the expectations and repercussions for incomplete project implementation and inadequate site maintenance.


At the end of the two year lease, unless otherwise agreed upon, project teams are required to take down the project installation as proposed in the final submission.  The condition to which the property is to be returned will be determined and agreed upon in the lease agreement.  The intent is to leave the property in a condition that will require maintenance that is equal to or less than the current cost of upkeep.


Winning teams agree to use any award granted pursuant to the competition solely for implementation of its final submission, and agree to use reasonable effort to implement and maintain the project and allocate other resources thereto as proposed in its final submission.


Ownership & Use

The competition organizers, Washington University, the City of St. Louis and the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group, shall retain ownership of and all rights in and to all materials submitted by any entrant.  Each entrant shall retain ownership of any and all copyright, patent, trademark or other intellectual property embodied in its submission but shall and does hereby grant the competition organizers and each of them a royalty-free, nonexclusive, worldwide perpetual right and license to use the same for all purposes associated with the competition and the promotion thereof, including, without limitation, the right and license to hold both an online and a gallery exhibition of work at the Old North St. Louis Restoration Group offices or elsewhere, and to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies of the design submission, and the right to authorize such use by others.  Entrants will be credited on all online and print material published by the organizers of the competition.  Except as stated above, no entrant or competition organizer shall use the name, logos or other protected marks of any other entrant or competition organizer without the other party’s prior written consent.  Any and all copyrights, patents, trademarks or other intellectual property of the competition organizers in and to the Sustainable Land Lab and Competition materials and program shall remain the sole property of the competition organizers.