This might be the most pointless blog entry I write but for the sake of being thorough here is my long overdue assessment of the Benisch led competition entry for the arch ground competition.
This entry falls into the "we're probably not gonna win so let's just go out guns blazing" approach. Always interesting, never prudent. But really, why not dare to dream?! Every competition needs an entry like this. Something to spark imagination, bring about hope, something built on outlandish ambition. This is the crazy chick you know you could never marry but while you're with her, you just smile and enjoy the ride.
1) The moment you start proposing gondolas and floating performing arts stages you are sending a message - we don't think we're gonna win but at least let's be interesting. Nothing wrong with this. Conservative jury panels, skittish election cycle-thinking politicians and a meat and potatoes middle American public see those elements and run the other way as fast as possible. I would question Benisch for this strategic approach but I think I get it. Be the outlier. Dare to dream. Got it. In the end St. Louis isn't in the Alps (gondola) and not near a serene lake (floating stage). And that was that. Didn't matter what else Benisch did, they weren't winning with those two things front and center.
2) Give the Benisch boys some credit. They knew they weren't winning but they busted their ass to have the best looking boards and renderings of any team in the final. The folks there must love the torture of long sleepless nights photoshopping plans and tweaking renderings. I know a couple Wash U folks involved with this team and they are the labor-of-love types who expect nothing less than the best. The renderings. . . sick. Clearly they are on another level than PWP and MVVA. Good stuff.
3) I'll admit I haven't looked through every team's narrative but Benisch's seems to be the best. The conceptual framework plus the inspiring visuals and sensible long term strategy show how much thought the team put into the project. Kuddos. This is one of those schemes that as a design professional, I can get excited about.
That said - the entry lacked the grounding and restraint needed to win, especially in one of the worst economic downturns of the last century. Ultimately that is what doomed Das Benisch team. Unlike their German brethren who have a reputation for building cars that are both visceral and well engineered, Benisch's entry lacked engineering. Which is to say, it seemed to lack the precision needed to deliver on it's lofty promises. But nonetheless I appreciate the imagination behind those promises and can't help but think of what could have been. . . . 1.