The un-conference Design in the Hills event was certainly a change for the committee and the architects in the area who have enjoyed our annual gathering. We hope that everyone has enjoyed the trip down memory lane as we recapped each year of Design in the Hills since 2011 via Blueprint South Dakota blogposts throughout the month of July. On behalf of the committee, we want to extend our greatest thank you to our sponsors for making this year’s virtual platform a possibility. We appreciate the agility to adapt as we brainstormed the possibilities for this year and patience as we navigated a different approach to celebrating the built environment.
In 2019, Rapid City made its biennial appearance as the host of Design in the Hills. Because of the numerous technologically innovative projects recently completed in Rapid City, the theme of 2019 was “Innovation RC.” The Design in the Hills Committee also decided to try something new in 2019 – a Call for Submissions throughout the region for built works and current research in the field of design innovation.
Our 2018 Design in the Hills event took us to the southern hills of Custer. Our theme that year centered around the concept of New Ruralism. New Ruralism can be described as an evolving rural planning approach rooted in respect for cultural heritage and empowerment of residents to actively participate in shaping their own environment. The approach focuses on making rural areas thriving, sustainable places to live and work. Custer possesses a great wealth of cultural resources which our event focused on.
The Design in the Hills 2017 theme was Adaptations. The committee set out to find exciting projects and planning efforts in the Rapid City community that were examples of architectural adaptations. The first day started with a morning outing on the infamous ‘Da Bus’ and ended with a walking tour through the East of 5th street corridor of downtown Rapid City. The first stop on ‘Da Bus’ was at the Bridger Steel plant in Blackhawk. The tour was enlightening to the attendees as they learned about the process of manufacturing metal panels.
The Design in the Hills 2016 theme was Reclamation. Artist Dale Lamphere helped us kick off the 2016 event with a site visit to the remote site east of Rapid City where he was designing, constructing and assembling the now-famous Dignity sculpture. The sculpture of a Native American woman holding a star quilt is 50 feet high, 16 feet deep and 32 feet wide and has more than 100 blue diamond shapes in the quilt that were originally designed to move in the wind. The sculpture now stands on a hill overlooking the Missouri River off of Interstate 90 near Chamberlain, SD.
2015 Design in the Hills highlighted Collaboration starting with a public-private partnership in Sturgis between Harley-Davidson and the City of Sturgis on Harley-Davidson Rally Point Plaza. Landscape architect Eirik Heikes gave the group a tour of the site and spoke about the partnership to conceive and construct the newest public space in Sturgis.
The 2013 theme was Design in the “Explorations” and we adventured into the vibrant public art scene of Downtown Rapid City. Originally, we had tours of Ellsworth AFB scheduled, but Federal furloughs forced last-minute changes. Fortunately, there is an abundance of creative built environment to discover in Rapid City.
2012 was the year to study “Transformations” in Rapid City. 2011 saw the beginnings of Main Street Square under construction. In 2012 we did a follow-up tour of the completed plaza and the adjacent building renovations into The Shops at Main Street Square. The former parking lot and empty buildings were now transformed into a energetic beating heart of the community.
Design in the Hills 2011 was our first year, featuring tours and presentations of local Built Environment design projects. Rapid City was undergoing a revitalization of the downtown area, and we toured the construction site of the new Main Street Square, which would become the heart of Downtown.
With COVID-19 pushing back our in-person Design in the Hills events to 2021, the American Institute of Architects South Dakota (AIA SD) is partnering with the Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association to open this year’s virtual event to the public through the Design in the Hills 2020 Photo Contest. One final $150 prize to a local Black Hills business provided by AIA South Dakota will be awarded to the top photo.