May Day Actions, 1971, which resulted in the arrest of 15,000 people. The peace pentagon was a major organizing hub for these actions. Photo: Ed Hedemann
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"Our wish for the building is to build a peace center, not just to be in the location, but to use our location to embody the spirit of the social justice movement and project it outward, as well as nurturing it from within," Maria  Byck, Paper Tiger Television, 3rd Floor Tenant 


The 339 Building Community originally formed around a shared office in Lower Manhattan, which was re-located to the present site in 1969. The building is owned by the A.J Muste Memorial Institute.  Part of the Muste Institute’s mission as a non-profit, is to provide low-cost space for a group of affiliated organizations, especially the original owner of the building, the War Resisters League. The 1st floor is currently rented to for-profit retail spaces and the two upper floors provide office space for peace and justice organizations at subsidized rents. 


The Peace Pentagon Competition is a project for a living community and has been shaped by its need to balance limited resources, values, and priorities. The current condition of the building requires that action must be taken, to protect the value of this asset. We are seeking proposals for the building’s future that provide for the needs of its users in a dynamic way. The challenge is to develop a visionary plan that can be accomplished on a limited budget.

This competition requests the competitors to explore one of two alternatives:

1. A new building.

2. A renovation of the existing building.


1. Mobilizing the Building.  Use the building to reach out to the neighborhood and to promote a sense of community with the neighborhood.

-Develop a specific strategy for using the building to persuasively express the spirit of the peace and justice movement. How does the strategy express the basic values and respond to specific conflicts?

-Create an interface between the building tenants and the public. How can the building’s presence inspire people to get involved?  How does the interior interact with the exterior?


2. Supporting the Movement.  Create a program for a financially, socially and environmentally sustainable building community.

The current building program uses 3 floors of space, but the zoning allows the addition of 2 full floors, to the existing building.  Additional programming for the roof should also  be considered.  How could that space be used to support the building community? Should the current location of the activist groups be maintained? What forms and spatial relationships are suggested by interactions between the different building functions?

Environmental Sustainability

Participants are strongly encouraged to design environmentally sustainable building systems that:

  • Use sustainable energy for space and water heating.

  • Optimize the use of resources.

  • Generate on-site electricity

  • Use the exterior envelope to facilitate effective energy use.

Social Sustainability

Encourage a sense of community within the building.

Propose new shared program elements while maintaining the existing tenant organizations. How can the architecture deepen a sense of internal community?

Financial Stability

Participants should propose a strategy for income producing on the site.

The total space available for income generating activities is approximately 9,000 s.f .of enclosed space if the building is enlarged according to current zoning regulations. This includes the ground floor space, which is curently divided into 5 retail shops.

How much of the available space should be used for income generating? How can income- generating zones co-exist with bare-bones activism? How can the need to be self-sustaining shape the building in a positive sense? Is there a conflict between idealism and practicality?




Program Requirements

Category Tenant/Use Size
General Areas
Additional “Movent” program items can be part of these areas.
1st Floor retail space (recommended) 2500 s .f. +/-
Lobby/ lounge* 200 sf (minimum)
Circulation* 2 Means of Egress, Elevator
Mechanical (cellar) 200 s. f.
Maintenance office (cellar) 100 s.f.
Roof*( Vitalize with new program, events, a green roof.) Based on design
Additional Program to be determined by participants 6000 s.f (maximum)
Total: General Areas 9000 s.f. + roof (maximum)
Movement Tenants
Minimum areas to be maintained for current program.
War Resisters League 850s.f.
Women's League for Peace and Freedom / Healthcare Now! 500sf
Met Council on Housing 350 s.f.
Multi-tenant office space 375 s.f.
Paper Tiger Television 600 s.f.
Socialist Party 250 s.f.
AJ Muste Memorial Institute 500 s.f.
Deep Dish Television 375 s.f.
Total: “movememt “offices 3,800s.f.
War Resisters League Book Store* 2 50 s.f.+/-
Conference Room* 375 s.f.
Pantry* 1 (minimum)
Meeting Space-(currently occupies AJMMI Office) * 500 sf (minimum)
Bathrooms (total for 2 floors at current occupancy) 3 stalls per sex
Storage * To be determined by paticpants
Total: “movement” semi-public (including circulation/elevator) 2,200 s.f.
Total : “movement tenants” 6,000 (minimum)

* items which can be joined with other functions

See also, Existing Space Allocation Drawing for information about the current layouts of the 2nd and 3rd floors. For the history of 339 tenants see:


All entrants will be assigned an entry number upon registration. Please make sure to mark all submission boards and text with this number. Number should appear in the lower right hand corner of each board. No other identification of authorship should be visible. Presentations should be easily understood by a lay audience. Some members of the competition jury may not be familiar with architectural drawings and symbols.


A. Text:

1. Conceptual statement 200 words (maximum) in English, describing the site’s potential and projected use of the building. Clarify your position on a new versus renovated building. Describe your proposition for space allocation within the building.

2. Sustainability statement 100 words (maximum) in English, describing how your proposal makes the building more sustainable.

The Text must be integrated into the composition of the board and submitted separately on 8½ ” x11” size paper.


B. Visual Documentation:

To be organized on a single board 30” x 40” oriented horizontally. Participants have the option of submitting 1 (one) mounted sheet or 2 (two) copies of a rolled 30” x 40” printed sheet. We recommend the rolled option primarily for international and long-distance U.S. participants (e.g. Hawaii and Alaska). All drawings should be clearly titled.

1. Two dimensional drawings

- 1 Plan, 1 Exterior elevation at 1/8”= 1’-0”scale or 1:100 (required)

- 1 Section through building and context at 1”= 50’ or 1:500 scale (required)

- Additional Plans, sections and elevations are left to the discretion of the entrant.

2. Three dimensional drawings

- Views/ model photographs/ perspectives that respond to the ideas of the building interacting with its neighborhood.

- 1 Exterior View, 1 Interior View (required)

3. Diagrams

-Responding to key questions of – mobilizing the building, supporting the tenants and expanding the space.

- Energy efficiency

C. Identification:

In a sealed envelope enclose the names of the team members and their roles. Place the registration number on the top of the envelope.



The jury will select a first & second prize winner for proposals that address the project as a whole. A third award will be given to a project that creates the best integration of an artistic vision with the interior and exterior of the building. Honorable mentions will be awarded at the jury’s discretion.

Prizes will be awarded as follows:

First Prize: US$ 5,000.00

Second Prize: US$ 2,000.00

Third Prize: to be determined

This is an ideas competition and the obligation of the competition sponsor to the winners is limited to the financial prizes as listed.

There will be a public exhibition of the winning entries and some additional selected entries in New York City. Selected exhibitors will be asked to submit physical models, mock-ups and projections for the final exhibition.



All competitors are required to register online. Additional drawings will be provided upon registration. All submissions will be anonymous. Numbers will be assigned at the time of registration. Please make a note of the registration number.



Registration fee: 50.00 USD (For registration completed on or prior to Nov 1, 2009)

Late registration fee: $100.00 USD (For registration completed on or after Nov 2, 2009)


Delivery Address

To be announced



Open to all artists, architects, engineers & students. Multidisciplinary teams are encouraged.



Nandini Bagchee

Maureen Shea


All entries to arrive by 5:00 PM

December 9, 2009

Visiting the Site

Virtual Visits. Google maps has extensive documentation of this part of New York City. A video tour of the building is available on this website. Photos of the main building spaces will be available to registered competition participants. See the link above for more information about the building tenants.

Actual Visits. Competition participants are encouraged to visit the exterior of the building and the surrounding neighborhood. Brief tours of the building will be available on a weekly basis, but attending one of these tours is not required. Please contact us by email ( to schedule participation in one of the tours. We request that all tour requests be made by email to the above address.

Questions & Answers

The Questions and Answers are now posted on our downloading site for registered participants.