Mayor Ekberg joins judging panel for design competition

The competition is a design ideas competition and it is presented by Design in Public and AIA Seattle.

Tukwila Mayor Allen Ekberg will be one of the judges in the Design for Inclusive Cities competition.

According to Debra Webb, the director of Design in Public, the competition is a way for community members to get creative and think of ways they could make it easier for immigrants and refugees that come to urban cities to get around and understand different aspects of the city.

“The competition is a design ideas competition and it is presented by Design in Public, which is a non-profit here in Seattle and AIA Seattle, which is an association for the American Institutes of Architects and it is a global competition that is a call to action for the global design community to come up with game changing solutions to welcome and support and empower urban immigrants and refugees,” Webb said.

The competition launched on April 18 and will close June 12. Those who place in the competition will receive money. First place winner will receive $7,500.

Ekberg said he choose to be a judge in the competition because of the diversity in Tukwila.

“As mayor of a city with significant number of residents who are immigrant or refugees, I wanted to participate in the Design for Inclusive Cities program to learn about and see ideas as to how design can be applied in our cities to improve the lives of everyone,” he said. “Sixty to 70 percent of displaced people in live in cities. Cities are on the front line of working with displaced people.

According to the Refugee Processing Center (RPC), there are more than 10 different languages spoken by refugees and immigrants, Arabic being the most spoken language among those who arrive. said nearly 40 percent of Tukwila’s population is foreign-born as of 2016.

So far, Webb said they have received a few submissions, but thinks most will come in later due to the complexity of the project they may be working on.

“We’re hoping for designs from all the design disciplines. So that could look like a graphic designer that uses signage and wave finding that is icon based to get over the hurdle and the barrier of language – so what are the role of graphic designers being able to find universal ways to communicate in both emergency preparedness things that every community member needs,” Webb said.

Ekberg said he is interested in hearing about innovative ideas and solutions about housing business design.

“I am hoping that of the solutions derived from this competition, we could be informed by the form of design approaches by looking about how a built environment may make a difference in the lives of immigrants and refugees or elsewhere,” Ekberg said. “Migrant and refugees face many challenges in their new urban lives — language, access to services, work and housing, cultural barriers, gentrification and land displacement. Yet, they also bring new energy to our cities and to our economy.”

Webb said she’s excited to see technologic ideas come through like neighborhood-centric apps.

For instance, an app that translate how to navigate around the city, to see what is inside of a grocery store before the person has entered — just a logo and translators that help people get around the area.

According to the Deign in Public website, the criteria the judges will follow is creativity, relevance and feasibility. To get a more in-depth description of the criteria go to

When the winner is announced, Webb said there is no guarantee that their design will be implemented into the city.

“There is definitely a hope and a desire that these will be put into action and that’s certainly one of the evaluation criteria of the jurors,” she said.

Ekberg said he hopes the competition will bring innovative ideas that are creative, relevant and feasible.

“We’re very grateful for Mayor Ekberg for being our civic partner and we recognize that Tukwila is one of the most diverse cities, certainly in our region. We’re looking forward to partnering with the city of Tukwila on this,” Webb said.

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