Call for Man Pavilion Urban Design Proposals

We are pleased to announce that the door is now open for your creative contribution to this year’s Man Pavilion. This year we are excited to announce two artist calls. You’ll find detailed information on the design call-out in this post, and you can find out more about the call for performers over here. We look forward to receiving your ideas and collaborating with you on another epic Burning Man event in Black Rock City!

The Idea

Each year we contemplate the structure and site for the Man as a place of interaction, invitation and, for some, a symbolic annual trek to the middle of Black Rock City. With our entire urban plan built around this iconic figure at the heart of the playa, the Man Pavilion is, after a fashion, our central ‘monument’.

Of course, we lovingly burn our monument each year, which is such a wonderful ritual of not taking ourselves too seriously, holding on too tightly, or over deifying our public symbol. It is both a rich and richly ironic statement of our constancy and our impermanence. 

To create the interactive experience at this year’s Man Pavilion, we are seeking design teams, urbanists, artists and architects to generate places for participants to gather and to activate the surrounding environment of the Man base. 

The first is a civic design challenge inspired by the theme Metamorphoses and the need to change our approach to the built environment. We are seeking innovative ways to encourage a community to be in one place together, as well as ideas that can be potentially translated from Black Rock City into global urban settings.

We are asking artists and designers to join us in considering what it means to be a city, Black Rock City, with an emphasis on the way urban spaces and buildings can either create disconnection or foster social connectivity. This challenge speaks to how we shape experience, encourage frivolity and fun, celebrate artistic approaches to public places, and stimulate interaction among people through design choices.

We are looking to select projects that evoke a plaza or park, which are thoughtful in terms of both the location and this year’s theme. Thought should be given to seating, artwork, design, and other elements that are conducive to a central place of assembly.

Each of the three selected projects will receive a stipend of $10,000 for materials and transportation, access to gift Burning Man 2019 tickets for your team, and Work Access Passes for early site entry and installation. All installation should be complete by 9 am Sunday, August 25. For inspiration regarding the theme, see the 2019 theme announcement.

Physical Constraints

Creative Urban Design spaces will include three separate ‘parklets’ close to the Man. We may allocate these spaces to three separate designers, or we may potentially grant them to one design team with a vision that utilizes all three spaces. 

The spaces will be approximately 4,700 square feet with their inboard boundary at a radius of approximately 95 feet from the center of the Man Pavilion and an outboard boundary of 145 feet radius. The space will have an inboard frontage of approximately 73 linear feet and an outboard border of approximately 111 feet. The spaces will be defined at the 9 o’clock, 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions around the Man and are shown here, shaded. 

The corner of each space will be indicated by bike racks and thematic, free-standing lighting elements (we call them Opa Lights) that will tie the entire Pavilion together visually. 

While not required in the proposal stage, if your proposed area includes structures larger than benches, we may ask for details listed under Building Safe Structures on our website. Shade structures will need to be evaluated in a similar manner, but fear not, we’re here to help. 

Out here in the wide open spaces around the Man, the winds are even more vicious than in residential Black Rock City. Additionally, shade structures cannot impede the sightlines from the city to the Man Pavilion. We think a good guideline for height is to consider ‘people scale’ and that shade much higher than 10’ creates both a wonderful sail (not great), and ends up throwing shade outside of its footprint about as much as it does inside. 

Lighting and Electrical

The Man Build team can provide you with electricity to power lighting circuits. Due to distance and distribution, we can’t support large draws like motors, but we can support your low draw (preferably LED) lighting. Please include a plan to light each element you install to ensure it is safe for pedestrians and the occasional errant bicyclist within the Pavilion area.

While Mutant Vehicles viewing your installation aren’t a concern within the Man Pavilion, there is good information about things to consider for lighting on our website. Solar is a possible solution should you desire to provide and install an array. Regardless of source, please direct lighting downwards or outwards from the Pavilion so it doesn’t interfere with the lighting set near the Man.

The Man team will work with selected artists to determine exact placement of electricals within the defined space. We intend to have it installed prior to your arrival. We invision this being a single quad-recepticle box installed at ground level from which you can run power distribution to your elements, but we are open to supporting your other needs. Please ask in your proposal.

Please plan to bury electrical extension cords. It’s best if you have something in your design that sits over top of the quad box and hides it so we don’t find people unplugging your lighting to charge their cell phones (just a little experience on the matter).

In terms of an overall complimentary lighting scheme within the Pavilion space, we anticipate utilizing primarily cool tones of purple and blue in neon, and warm, clean light from the cocoon. Please describe your ideas for lighting color and temperature. 

Set-Up and Strike

  • The Man Pavilion opens on Sunday, August 25 at 6 pm. Depending on the intricacy of your project, we will work with you to determine  your arrival and set-up time. Parklets must be ready by Sunday morning. We can support your project with access to heavy equipment as needed, and we’ll consult with selected designers on their needs.
  • Leave No Trace. Remove your packing and build materials. Haul out your own MOOP.
  • Your project must be completely removed from the site and the site inspected in advance of burn night, Saturday, August 31. You may strike as early as a TBD-time late Friday evening up to Saturday morning. Full strike must be accomplished and inspected by 2 pm on Saturday.


Other Stuff That Might Be Useful to Know

Pre-event, on-site set-up:

  • You will be responsible for transportation of your project to the playa.
  • You will be allowed to bring your truck into the build space so you can unload. The truck cannot remain on the build site beyond the completion of the unload. You can park just outside our site fenceline, so you have access to tools or other materials you might need.
  • The site will be an active construction site when you arrive. You must have appropriate clothing including closed-toe footwear. Your crew will need hard hats while they’re on site. Gloves, eye and ear protection, etc. for each member of your team are required if you plan on using power tools. If we assist you with heavy machinery support, we may require you to wear a (provided, but possibly pre-sweaty!) hard hat. Feel free to bring your own.
  • We’re sorry, but kids under 18 are not allowed on our active construction site.

During the event:

  • Please check in on your installation daily. Sometimes things get broken, and this is your opportunity and responsibility to fix it the way you’d like. If we see something unsafe or broken, we may fix it on your behalf, which could also include removal.

Contracts and Plans 

Burning Man Project will contract and coordinate the selected proposals. The selected designers will need to participate in pre-installation logistics meetings and provide drawings, sketches and specifications to our team as needed. We understand that the proposed project may slightly evolve during the finalization of the design and build plan. If your plans change significantly from what you propose, we’ll need to work with you to review and approve the changes.

Project Timeline

If you have questions while creating your submittal, you may email them to We’ll update this blog post with relevant Q&A’s. 

Proposals are due on April 15 at 11:59 pm Pacific Time, and we anticipate making a decision in early May. Once we have selected the proposals, we will issue a contract and begin work on nailing down installation plans.

The Man Pavilion opens on Sunday, August 25. Your piece must be fully installed and your installation debris removed from the site no later than noon on Sunday, August 25

Evaluation and Award Process

The team reviewing your submissions will include creative types in the Art Department along with members of the Man Pavilion crew.

The creative team will evaluate proposals based on adherence to the request, innovative thinking, testing and prototyping new ideas for gathering places, visual appeal, and feasibility.

Submission Details

The proposal form includes a range of questions about your basic contact information and details of your experience and project. Please submit your proposal here.

About the author: Burning Man Project

Burning Man Project

The official voice of the Burning Man organization, managed by Burning Man Project's Communications Team.

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