2017-2018 Steel Competition

“It’s not about your greatness as an architect, but your compassion to others.”
- Samuel Mockbee

“The willingness of nations to work together not just for refugees and those seeking asylum, but for the collective human interest is what’s being tested today, and it’s this spirit of unity that badly needs to prevail.” 
- UN High Commissioner Filippo Grandi



The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) is pleased to announce the 18th Annual Steel Design Student Competition for the 2017-2018 academic year. Administered by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), the program is intended to challenge students, working individually or in teams, to explore a variety of design issues related to the use of steel in design and construction. Steel must be used as the primary structural material and contain at least one space that requires long-span steel structure, with special emphasis placed on innovation in steel design.


The 2017-2018 Steel Design Student Competition will offer architecture students the opportunity to compete in two separate categories:


Challenges architecture students to create a more humanitarian design of a Detention Center by emphasizing family and community rather than isolation. Steel offers great benefits in this endeavor, as it allows for longer spans and more creative light filled spaces.

Category II   OPEN

Offers architecture students the opportunity to select a site and building program using steel as the primary material. This competition category permits the greatest amount of flexibility for any building type.

Students may not enter both categories of the competition.


Structural steel offers a number of benefits in building design including the capacity to bear great loads in tension and compression, high resiliency and performance under harsh and difficult conditions, (e.g., earthquakes and hurricanes) and the ability to span great distances with minimum material. Steel can be shaped by many processes, ranging from standard rolled sections to custom castings and digitally generated components. It can be prefabricated and delivered for site assembly, and it can be erected quickly under almost any weather condition to meet tight construction schedules. Similarly, steel’s wide use for building cladding highlights its durability, technical capabilities and aesthetic versatility.


March 28, 2018             Registration Deadline (free registration)
May 23, 2018                Submission Deadline
Summer 2018               Winners Announced
Fall 2018                       Publication of Summary Book

A total of $14,000 will be distributed in cash prizes.


In a world where we face others that we do not understand, the question of alterity becomes essential to not only our critical thinking, but also place-making. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, alterity is “the state of being other or different.” It is a philosophical term meaning “otherness” describing the ability to distinguish between self/other, while opening up to the recognition of alternative viewpoints. According to Emmanuel Levinas, there is a third-space bridging what he refers to as the ‘Other-in-the-same1. Levinas takes a philosophical approach that creates a ‘place’ that does not reduce the other to the same, but instead forms an in-between space accepting and acknowledging difference. This ‘space of communicativity2 or in-between third space, is referred to here as an Architecture of Alterity. The challenge is to design a space of co-existence that embodies an innovative use of structural steel in the design solution, successful response of the design to its surrounding context, and successful response to basic architectural concepts such as human activity needs, structural integrity, and coherence of architectural vocabulary.

1 Emmanuel Lévinas, Otherwise than Being, or Beyond Essence, trans. Alphonso Lingis (Dordrecht and Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991; first published in French in 1974), pp. 99-129. Also see Simon Critchley and Robert Bernasconi, The Cambridge Companion to Lévinas(London, UK and New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 234-51.
2 Dorian Wiszniewski, “The Space of Communicativity: Lévinas and Architecture.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy, vol. 35, 2008, pp. 183-194. 185.

+ Category II OPEN
+ Guidelines & Rules
+ Registration & Submissions
+ Resources
+ Steel Videos
+ Competition Organizers

+ Download Steel Competition Program (PDF)


For questions please contact: 

Eric Wayne Ellis
Allison Smith 
Director of Operations and Programs
Programs Manager
eellis@acsa-arch.org      asmith@acsa-arch.org
202.785.2324 202.785.2324



Image Credit
2016-2017 Steel Competition  |  Open Category Honorable Mention
Title: Suspending within Interaction
          Student: Kong Ye
Faculty: Heinrich Schnoedt
Institution: Virginia Tech