Public Space x Santa Rosa


AIA Redwood Empire is hosting a design competition in Spring of 2019 in the newly redone downtown Old Courthouse Square, so named for the historic courthouse that used to occupy the space but was demolished following a major earthquake.  The design-build competition is a chance for Emerging Professionals to showcase their talents and engage with the community, and is open to all. 

Public space is rapidly disappearing from the American landscape, and the competition is an opportunity to both celebrate the square and to re-educate the public on interaction and engagement with public spaces.  The competition is to design public interaction installations that will allow visitors to sit in the shade and engage with one another.  The programmatic requirements include seating and shade, and must fit within a ten-foot by ten-foot footprint. 

A handful of winners will be selected to be built and installed in the early summer of 2019.  The Jury is composed of 5 prominent emerging professionals in the field of Architecture and Landscape Architecture who are making a difference and are promoting the welfare of young talent today.


Inspiration: New York MoMA PS1

The PS1 Young Architect’s Program, a design and installation competition, offers emerging architectural talent the opportunity to design and build a temporary installation that engages and transforms the given outdoor space.

PSr1 aims to recreate the vital components of the PS1 competition, in an effort to re-engage public space in Sonoma County, California.

Old Courthouse Square

On the night of October 1, 1969 a pair of earthquakes of magnitude 5.6 and 5.7 struck the city of Santa Rosa, California, killing one person and damaging a majority of the city infrastructure beyond repair.  The central courthouse, designed and built to replace the original ruined by the 1906 Earthquake, was eventually demolished, leaving a hole in Santa Rosa downtown proper.  


For years the square was bisected by Santa Rosa Avenue, creating two disparate spaces, sparsely occupied and underutilized. The area was dominated by vehicular traffic, and almost unusable as a public asset.

Reunified Square

In 2014 the city approved an effort to redevelop and reconnect the square. In 2017 the city reconstructed the square into one central park reintroducing the city to public space. Since then, it has become a beacon for concerts, night markets, and sporting events.