Beginning in March 2019, the Columbia Design League invites designers to once again Play With Your City through Reimagining Lady, an open design competition. Entrants are invited to share their ideas and inspirations for how the underutilized, not-so-pedestrian-friendly Lady Street Corridor (between Main Street and Lincoln Street) can be enhanced to link two of the city’s most vibrant districts: Main Street and the Vista. The winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize.


Deadline: Friday, May 24, 2019, at 11:59 p.m.
Cost: $125.00 per entry

Call for Entries

Enter Now

Why Reimagine Lady?

In 2016, the Gehl Institute, a global leader in people-focused urban design, released a commissioned study focused on Columbia. The Public Space Public Life Study detailed the relationship between the built environment and people’s quality of life in Columbia.

The report outlined a prime location for introducing ‘urban stickiness’ and a much-needed pedestrian connection between urban districts. The location was the Lady Street corridor from Main Street, heading west to Lincoln Street, the heart of the historic Congaree Vista. But while both ends of the corridor are vibrant, the pedestrian experience between them is fraught with challenges. 

Assembly Street, a six-lane thoroughfare now effectively separates Main Street from the Congaree Vista. Once across Assembly Street, heading toward the Vista, the scenery is bleak thanks to a hodgepodge of surface parking and single-story buildings.

See the site info
Check out Lady Street street views

Accepting the Challenge

Entrants are challenged to consider temporary – or permanent – interventions to improve the pedestrian experience along the Lady Street Corridor. Solutions that incorporate and blur the distinctions between architecture, landscape design, urban design and art installation are encouraged. Entrants may work individually, but multi-disciplinary design teams are especially encouraged. 

The winning entry will receive a $5,000 cash prize and shall be constructed for $20,000 as a total construction budget. The Columbia Design League reserves the right to negotiate with the designer(s) regarding additional professional consultants to implement the winning design, as necessary.

Submission Criteria 

Your entry should include the following elements for the blind jury evaluation:

  • A summary of your idea including proposed construction (800 words or less).
  • Up to 20 conceptual images (drawings, 3D renderings or visuals) in PDF format.
  • Any submitted documentation should be formatted to 8.5 x 11 size in PDF format – 10MB max file size.

How to Enter 

Enter Here

Meet the Jury

Mike Lydon, Jury Chair
Mike is a principal with Street Plans and leads the firm’s New York City office. Mike is an internationally recognized planner, writer, speaker, and advocate for livable cities. NPR, The New York Times, CNN Headline News, ABC News, City Lab, Planetizen, Salon, Next City, Architect Magazine, and Streetsblog have featured his work, among other publications. Mike is the creator of the Open Streets Project and the globally acclaimed Tactical Urbanism: Short-Term Action, Long-Term Change Vol.1 – 4. With Tony Garcia, Mike is the recipient of the 2017 Seaside Prize and co-author of Tactical Urbanism (Island Press, 2015), named by Planetizen as one of the top ten planning books of the year. Mike collaborated with Andres Duany and Jeff Speck in writing The Smart Growth Manual (McGraw-Hill, 2009). Mike currently serves on Transportation Alternative’s Executive Committee for the New York City Harbor Ring project and is an advisor to the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. Mike received a B.A. in American Cultural Studies from Bates College and a master’s in urban planning from the University of Michigan.

Mayor Steve Benjamin
Since being elected mayor in a record turnout election in April 2010, Mayor Steve Benjamin has made it his mission to create in Columbia the most talented, educated and entrepreneurial city in America. In addition to serving as Mayor of Columbia, Mayor Benjamin also serves as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and as Chairman for Municipal Bonds for America, Member of the Federal Communications Commission’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee, Member of the Accelerator for America Advisory Council and Co-Chair of the Mayors for 100% Clean Energy campaign.

DeAnna Cummings 
DeAnna is CEO and one of the founders of Juxtaposition Arts, a youth-focused cultural arts center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Under Cummings’ leadership, JXTA has shifted from an afterschool enrichment model to a social enterprise and community development model that trains and employs youth as a springboard to higher education and careers in art and design. DeAnna believes in the power of people who are rooted in a place to be the agents of equitable and sustainable positive change. In 2004, she worked with others on the effort to relocate Juxtaposition Arts operations to a fledgling commercial street in its neighborhood. Since then the organization has proceeded with a staged development of its formerly vacant buildings encompassing one city block into cultural activity centers for youth and artists and new amenities for residents. DeAnna is a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and holds a master’s in public administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Gabe Klein
Gabe is the former commissioner of the Chicago and Washington DC Departments of Transportation. In both cities he revamped technology platforms and government processes while focusing on putting people first vs. automobiles on city streets. This included launching two of the first and largest bikeshare systems in the U.S. and building protected bike lanes and better pedestrian infrastructure for vulnerable citizens citywide, as well as facilitating private services like carshare and rideshare that could help each city’s mobility goals. As commissioner, Gabe worked to bring a new riverwalk to Chicago as well as the breathtaking Bloomingdale Trail, hundreds of miles of bike lanes, and new policies combined with technology solutions to revamp parking, permitting and many other arcane government processes in both cities.  

John Fellows
John is an urban planner and urban designer who has more than 20 years of experience in urban design and planning for local governments. He began his career in the Midwest and has worked in various capacities in the East and Southeast. Currently he is planning administrator with the City of Columbia, SC.  Fellows’ interest in urban design and planning has focused on the built form of the city and the spaces within cites, active transportation and children’s relationships to the built environment. He holds a BSAS (Architecture-1994), a MArch (Architecture-1997), and MUP (Urban Planning-1997) from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a MArch (Urban Design and Housing-2010) from McGill University in Montreal, QC. The City of Columbia and Fellows are the recipients of the 2017 Knight City Challenge for the project “The State’s Front Porch” otherwise known as EnjoySC, an eight-week series of public space pop-up events featuring public seating, interactive activities and partnerships with local cultural organizations on the ground of the State House.

Special Thanks

This project was supported by a grant from the Knight Foundation Fund at Central Carolina Community Foundation.


"The Knight Foundation"


Play with Your City Partners

City Center Partnership
City of Columbia Government
Coal Powered Filmworks
Columbia Development Corporation
Columbia Museum of Art
One Columbia
Quackenbush Architects + Planners
Watson Tate Savory

Projected Timeline

Call for entries: March 1 – May 24 
Deadline for submission: Extended until May 24,2019, by 11:59 p.m.
Jury review: Late May
Winner notification and announcement: Early June
Student design competition: September 
Installation and student design exhibit: October


If you have questions, please contact Betsy Newman, Columbia Design League’s Reimagining Lady chair, at