Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Mine the Gap Competition

What to do with a big hole in the ground? This question was the focus of the 2010 Chicago Prize Competition called MINE THE GAP, an international design ideas competition organized by the Chicago Architecture Club. The competition examined one of the most visible scars left after the collapse of the real estate market in Chicago, being a 70 foot deep and 86 foot wide hole along the Lake Michigan shore that was to have been and may yet be the foundation for a spiraling 150-story condominium tower designed by Santiago Calatrava.

Spire Gap

Exhibition in the John David Mooney Foundation in Chicago

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat acted as supporter of the competition. Also, CTBUH's executive director Antony Wood served as one of the jurors. The winner was announced on Saturday May 15. The exhibition, which showed the finalists and a cross section of the more than 150 ideas that were submitted from all over the world, was on display at the John David Mooney Foundation in Chicago the week after.

The first prize, and the winner of the $3,500 grand prize, was won by Professor Alex Lehnerer and his team from the University of Illinois at Chicago with the idea to use the hole as a home base for an air balloon carrying a disc shaped swimming pool. The bright yellow color of the balloon reflects the name of the idea: The Second Sun. The surroundings of the hole would be transformed into a beach setting.

First prize winner: The Second Sun

Second place went to Return to Paradise. This idea proposed to give the plot back to nature and allow it to transform itself into a natural landscape, in which the hole serves as an invitation to descend to the center of the earth. Third Prize was won by a project called Lot 400 which proposed to turn the gap into an exhibition space. Other ideas suggested a temporary cabbage field, a bungee jump facility, solar heated halo of water, water park, a fund raiser wishing well and a supersized lid.

Second place winner: Return to Paradise

Third place winner: Lot400