Attention all Architects and Social Engineers! Here is a chance to have your design vision ring through the ages! The Cultural Center of the Philippines and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts has announced that they are holding a Design Excellence Competition to enhance the Master Business and Development Plan of their sprawling 70 hectare complex by Manila Bay. In an eerie paraphrase of Imelda Marcos' ambition to make the Cultural Center of the Philippines the "sanctuary for the Filipino soul", the website says that the contest aims to establish the new CCP Complex as a "center for arts and culture in Asia and the centerpiece of artistic expression of the Filipinos' soul and spirit." It also says that they hope to "optimize the economic potential of the district to be self-sustaining, promote public life and private activities as well as encourage private sector participation." Rather tall orders I have to say - especially since there has never been a truly successful marriage of art and commerce in any public institution in this country. And judging by the complexity of the factors at hand, the design and development of the area sounds like a responsibility that should really be given to veteran professionals rather than altruistic students and inexperienced local McArchitects. My number one kvetch about competitions: What happens if the winner sucks? Do we still have to build it? Case in point: Look at all those nasty Eduardo Castrillo monuments (EDSA monument, Bonifacio Monument, etc..) we have to bear with since he is the only one who bothers to join these public sculpture competitions at all. But who knows? Maybe there is a brilliant architect-slash-urban planner among our midst waiting to be given the chance to shine (Ed Calma, Andy Locsin, Anna Sy, and Jorge Yulo, I hope you have your applications all filled out already.) Or maybe the organizers also opened the competition to international designers so that it can expand the creative horizon and move away from our somewhat insular perspective. Perhaps they should also invite figures like Rem Koolhas or RKTL of to join the competition in order to give our designers the drive to push the envelope a bit. Either way, I eagerly await the final result. Submission of entries is on July 30th for professionals and September for students. A panel made up of the screening committee, three experts in the design fields and three from the NCCA and CCP will do final judging. Around P1M is earmarked for prizes for the winning entries. Winning designs will also be exhibited at the CCP main gallery in December, and featured in a special issue of Bluprint Magazine. The photo above is a picture of the CCP complex before reclamation activities began. Star City Circus is now located on top of the shoreline you see above.