“I think what you guys are doing is absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to see it grow even more in the future. I sat in on some of the other pitches and the quality of work you guys are showcasing is simply awesome.”
– Mark Palmer, 2015 Finalist, Place by Design: Resilience

Place by Design Applications are now closed for SXSW Eco 2016.

The Place by Design Finalists envision public space as something greater than a backdrop for human activity. These projects push everyday places to become an integral part of a community and a force for social, economic and environmental change. Place by Design represents the potential for place-based innovation to influence public health, community engagement, social equity and more.

While many applicants work in related fields such as urban design and architecture, there are also artists, developers, community activists, corporations and entrepreneurs below. This diversity demonstrates the collaboration that is key to building good places, and SXSW Eco’s Place by Design program strives to be a platform to foster extraordinary partnerships and advance this work further. Visit our Youtube playlist to watch the pitches from all of the below Finalists.

Click on a category to view 2015 winners + finalists:

Art + Interaction | Data + Tech | Resilience | Social Impact | Urban Strategy

2015 Art + Interaction Winner

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, The Mothership

The Mothership

Pitch Video

Presenters: Bryce Detroit and Anya Sirota
Detroit, MI, United States


The Mothership, a P-Funk inspired mobile DJ booth and urban marker, creates vibrant environments by broadcasting locally rooted cultural activity in Detroit’s epic North End.

2015 Art + Interaction Finalists

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Field of Visions

Field of Vision

Pitch Video

Presenter: Jenny Kendler
Louisville, KY, United States


Field of Vision: A Garden for Others takes the concept of a butterfly garden and expands it into an experience of wonder, giving a glimpse into the somatic perception of butterflies — creatures familiar and beautiful, yet strange and otherworldly.

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, The Swings

The Swings

Pitch Video

Presenters: Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat
Montreal, Canada


The Swings is an interactive public installation with a proven track record for making places and encouraging collaborative behaviors between strangers.

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial

Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial

Pitch Video

Presenter: Catherine Menard
Pasadena, CA


This sculptural experience embodies a society's monumental loss. It is a sacred space, an historic symbol, representing hope to further a unified consciousness while propelling the national and global recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Project Color Corps

Project Color Corps

Pitch Video

Presenter: Fabiola Hernandez + Allison Haynes
Oakland, CA


Gensler, in partnership with IIDA & Project Color Corps, repainted Cambridge Elementary with colors and patterns that impart a message of optimism and hope. The project aimed to empower the students and drive theexperiential energy of the school.

2015 Data + Tech Winners

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, CyArk 500

Cyark 500

Pitch Video

Presenter: Elizabeth Lee, VP of CyArk



The CyArk 500 is a free, 3D online library of the world's cultural heritage sites at risk. Our platform generates grand experiences like standing atop a pyramid or flying through the buttresses of a cathedral. We are the pioneers of the digital preservation movement.

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Pure Tension Pavilion

Pure Tension Pavilion

Pitch Video

Presenter: Alvin Huang | Principal, Synthesis Design + Architecture



The PURE Tension Pavilion is a lightweight, rapidly deployable, solar-powered, free-standing tensioned membrane structure and portable charging station. The pavilion charges a fully depleted V60 in 12 hours, flat-packs to fit in the trunk of the car and assembles in less than 1 hour.

2015 Data + Tech Finalists

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Airbare


Pitch Video

Presenter: Urban Matter Inc.
Louisville, KY, United States


Airbare is a data art project that visualizes data collected from air quality sensors in the city of Louisville. The project layers our view of the world with air particles that have been amplified, almost as if seeing them through a microscope. An element of gamification allows the users to learn more about what causes air pollution and what can be done to reverse it on our end.

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Cidade Azul

Cidade Azul (Blue City)

Pitch Video

Presenter: Carol Ferrés
São Paulo, Brazil


São Paulo has more than 300 rivers covered by avenues and most people in São Paulo don’t know it. Cidade Azul is a platform that allows anyone discover hidden rivers and help the greatest possible number of people see that they are everywhere.

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Hello Lamp Post

Hello Lamp Post

Pitch Video

Presenter: Carrie Brown, City of Austin
Austin, TX and London, UK


Hello Lamp Post is a playful city-wide SMS platform, inviting people to strike up conversations with familiar street furniture using the text message function of their mobile phones.

2015 Resilience Winner

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, The Redd on Salmon Street

The Redd on Salmon Street

Pitch Video

Presenters: Nathan Kadish, Managing Director, Ecotrust Capital Partners
Portland, OR


The Redd on Salmon Street is development project designed to grow a robust regional food economy. A two-block food production and distribution hub in the heart of Portland, Ore., the Redd will provide critical infrastructure to enable a just and sustainable food system.

2015 Resilience Finalists

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, A Place To Go

A Place to Go

Pitch Video

Presenter: Mark Palmer, AIA, LEED AP BD+C | Senior Associate, RTKL
Design Team: Sarah Cai, Laura Ewan, Cory Strischek, James Robertson, Ian Marcus, Patrick Willke, Bryant Yee
Machakos, Kenya


A Place To Go is a volunteer-led effort to design, fundraise, and construct a biogas toilet for the Jitegemee School in Machakos, Kenya. The project will replace an existing pit-latrine, recycle waste, and provide renewable energy to power stoves in an adjacent kitchen.

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Beirut Riverless

Beirut Riverless

Pitch Video

Presenter: Adib Dada, Founder + Lead Architect | theOtherDada
Beirut, Lebanon



Beirut RiverLess addresses the deterioration of the river and connected infrastructure, resulting in negative impacts on the surrounding communities and environment. It aims at Bringing Beirut River Back to Life to increase its resilience and improve living conditions of the communities on either side of it.

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Center for Sustainable Landscapes

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes

Pitch Video

Presenter: Richard V. Piacentini | Executive Director, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Pittsburgh, PA


Designed to reveal how human and environmental health are inextricably connected, the Center for Sustainable Landscapes is the only project to meet the Living Building Challenge, LEED Platinum, 4 Stars SITES and Platinum WELL Building certification.

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Rapidly Deployable Net Zero Ebola Treatment

Rapidly Deployable Net Zero Ebola Treatment

Pitch Video

Presenter: Heidi Lubin, Co-Founder & EVP, Corporate & Product Development | Modula-S
Various locations


These modular, net-zero, treatment units use ultra-efficient building envelope technology to moderate the temperature of the unit and improve comfort while incorporating easy-to-clean and bactericidal materials to simplify decontamination efforts. The autonomous units can easily deploy in ~ 3 – 7 days with ten people in remote and isolated communities.

2015 Social Impact Winner

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Rapido


Pitch Video

Presenter: Elaine Morales-Diaz, Design Associate, buildingcommunityWORKSHOP
Rio Grande Valley, TX


RAPIDO rethinks the model of rebuilding by approaching recovery from a temp-to-perm strategy that quickly deploys a temporary CORE to a family’s property that expands over time with semi-custom additions as time and resources become available.

2015 Social Impact Finalists

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, City Year + Gensler

City Year + Gensler

Pitch Video

Presenters: Brian Hungerford and Christina Skowronski, Gensler
Chicago, IL


In the United States, a child drops out of high-school every 31 seconds. City Year is an organization that, through volunteer mentoring, aims to correct this problem. Gensler, an international design firm, has partnered with City Year by offering volunteer design and construction services. The result is inspiring classrooms in Chicago, New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C. that embody the culture of each school and encourage students to reach towards their future.

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Haven for Hope

Haven for Hope

Pitch Video

Presenter: Rick Archer, FAIA, LEED AP | Overland Partners
San Antonio, TX


Haven for Hope—home to more than 78 San Antonio-based nonprofits—is the largest and most comprehensive homeless facility in the United States, bringing together all the necessary services to address the root causes of homelessness.

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Ribbon Gardens

Ribbon Gardens

Pitch Video

Presenters: Tim Bevins LEED-AP ND; Green Urbanism Program Associate | Global Green USA
Oakland, CA


Ribbon Gardens are a DIY response to food scarcity in Food Deserts that simultaneously strengthen community cohesiveness. They transform lost public space into functional food production areas through a customized, easy to assemble kit of parts.

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Save Altgeld

Save Altgeld!

Pitch Video

Presenter: Tom Veed, Architecture for Humanity
Chicago, IL


In 2013 CHA sought funding to demolish over 600 homes in Altgeld Gardens on Chicago’s south side. With our community partners, AFH authored a plan to save 97% of the units. Now we are building on that win, to make a case for reinvestment in region.

2015 Urban Strategy Winner

These projects showcase what can be achieved through unexpected partnerships and Imaginative planning at the municipal level.

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Homegr/own


Pitch Video

Presenters: Timothy McCollow, HOME GR/OWN Program Manager | City of Milwaukee Office of Environmental Sustainability, Carolyn J. Esswein, UWM Director | Community Design Solutions
Milwaukee, WI


The City of Milwaukee’s HOME GR/OWN Initiative & UW-Milwaukee’s Community Design Solutions have partnered over the last 2 years to inject design and placemaking into the transformation of over 20 vacant lots into sustainable pocket parks & orchards.

2015 Urban Strategy Finalists

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Activate


Pitch Video

Presenters: Tom Veed, AFH Chicago; Katherine Darnstadt, Latent Design
Chicago, IL


In order to instigate change, it takes action. In order to build consensus, it takes activity. For the past 6 years, Activate! has leveraged open source design to revitalize vacant and underutilized spaces in the city of Chicago to build community.

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, City of Austin Neighborhood Partnering Program

City of Austin Neighborhood Partnering Program

Pitch Video

Presenter: Justin Gobabai, Neighborhood Partnering Program Manager of City | Austin’s Public Works Department
Austin, TX


From green streets to community gardens, Austin’s Neighborhood Partnering Program assists neighborhood groups to develop, resource, and execute small- to medium-sized improvement projects on City property or right-of-way.

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Living Community

Living Community: A Vision for First Hill

Pitch Video

Presenter: Amanda Sturgeon, Executive Director, International Living Future Institute
Seattle, WA


This project applies the Living Community Challenge framework to create a new vision and reality for the neighborhood based on the characteristics of a forest–namely diversity, beauty, symbiosis, place-centricity, and waste/water/energy-positivity.

SXSW Eco 2015 Place by Design Finalist, Greater Streets Initiative

Great Streets Initiative

Pitch Video

Presenter: Helen Leung, LA-Más


As part of Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative, LA-Más piloted a short-term, creative place-making project that re-imagines a car centric community with a pedestrian-oriented street. The low-cost, high-impact strategy was realized in a few months with invaluable support from community and government partners. With the intent of sparking social and economic activity, this project features creative community partnerships, interdepartmental policy investigations, and a precedent that will inspire more Great Streets across the city.

Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines is the premier sponsor of Place by Design. The Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program was developed in partnership with Project for Public Spaces to support and activate public spaces in the heart of cities they serve; since 2013, they have given thirteen placemaking grants to regenerate urban spaces across North America.

At SXSW Eco, Southwest Airlines will be installing a Heart of the Community outdoor placemaking lounge for attendees to enjoy. They will also be providing Place by Design winners with special awards and leading a bootcamp to teach SXSW Eco attendees what they look for in grantees and how to apply to Heart of the Community.