Lake Elsinore Civic Center Design Competition, Lake Elsinore, Calif.

For the Lake Elsinore Civic Center competition, Koning Eizenberg Architecture proposed a shoreline park with recreational infrastructure such as an ecological center, and a meadow that can accommodate movie screenings, all connected to the downtown Main Street.

Koning Eizenberg Architecture, Santa Monica, Calif. For Koning Eizenberg, the thesis of its design was to "bind [the city's] civic identity with an ecological infrastructure," says associate Nathan Bishop. A vegetated scrim brings nature to the civic buildings, and a proposed "Ecobungalow" conference center would allow the city to turn its love of the outdoors into a revenue source: "They could run eco-conferences and rent out the center," says Bishop. "It combines an economical and ecological imperative."

Brian Healy Architects, Boston "The great thing about this competition," says Brian Healy, "is the whole idea that architecture can assume a civic responsibility. We wonder why more municipalities don't step up this way." His scheme connects the southern end of Lake Elsinore's Main Street to the lakefront with an open-plan city square. A metal-skinned civic center building contains the city hall, library, and post office. A pier extends from the civic center to the lake and provides a place for boats to dock.

Healy brings the water inland with a reflecting pool that serves as a pivot point between Main Street and the plazas of the civic center.

Hannah Gabriel Wells, San Diego "We opened up the competition to the office, and everyone had a charrette and gave their input," says associate Sean Chen of the firm's design process. The main thrust of the final scheme was creating infrastructure to link the waterfront site with downtown.

"Getting a building was only half of what the city wanted-they really wanted to revitalize the downtown." For a civic center, the design team created a series of low buildings with green roofs that angle down to meet the ground plane. Colonnades shade public plazas and define circulation paths between buildings.

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