Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vision Dallas: More Jury Deliberations

The second day of jury deliberations for the Re:Vision Dallas competition to design a sustainable city block began with enormous optimism. After looking at the results from the first day, it was obvious that the jury had retained most of the entries from the first couple hours of deliberations but the longer day went the fewer entries made it to the second round.

The assumption was that as the jury became more accustomed to the quality of the entries that the jury became tougher. Everyone thought that a quick review of the entries from yesterday, applying the tougher standard set by the entries themselves, would result in narrowing the remaining entries pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, everyone was wrong. Whether by happenstance or otherwise (the entries were numbered by their registration date, so maybe the earlier registrants had spent more time on their designs) the earlier entries were, as a group, simply better.

Several hours of work only resulted in reducing the remaining designs from about thirty to twenty-one. Worse yet, occasionally a judge would reach back into the entries that had already been eliminated and find reason to bring it back, so progress was slow and sometimes no progress at all was made.

Finally the jury decided to try a different tack. The twenty or so remaining entries were laid out on long tables, and the jury starting looking for exceptional entries; for the winners rather than for entries that could be eliminated.

Two entries immediately came to the forefront as exceptional in design, in innovation and in the quality of their thought. Another four or five entries had something more to recommend them than the competition (at least in the jury’s eyes). Now the task became picking the best entry from those few entries to join the two winners already selected.

Once again the deliberations slowed down as the jury discussed the relative merits of the various designs, but after some time the candidates for the third winning entry were narrowed to two, and then the jury decided to vote between them. As each juror stated his opinion, though, a consensus emerged, and in the end there was no need to vote. The winning entries had been selected.

And I was enormously relieved. The winning designs were beautiful and they all looked buildable. I didn’t realize how worried I had been that the jury might select winners that I couldn’t build until the decision was made.

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