Category I: Re-Ligare Institute

There are three fundamental directions in which our life may advance: doing, having, and being. 

Living in America today means one must be busy 24/7. Be it at work, in the market, or at school, we are asked to do more and more. Doing is the ticket to success: have you seen anybody progress by standing still? So, doing, getting-things-done, is the mantra running our lives. We accordingly pack our days from dawn to dusk with activities aimed at achieving maximum benefit. Not surprisingly, this attitude bleeds into our leisure time (i.e. we come back from vacation more tired than we left), physical exercise, and even social relationships.

But, the reach for doing is only one side of a coin. The other side is the simultaneous expectation and desire for consumption. Buying, getting, having, and using are socially legitimate ways in which to spend ones free time. An individual’s value to society is in many ways measured by their capacity to conspicuously consume. In fact, consumption has taken on patriotic value: the best contribution a concerned citizen could do right after 9-11 was … to go shopping!

The message is clear and loud. If we are not busy doing, then we must be busy consuming, but the key is to be constantly busy. Don’t stop! Just keep on going. Those people, practices, activities, or beliefs not fitting in this picture are quickly spotted and discredited. In this new puritan ethics people caught hanging-out, idling, and not doing are seen as parasitical, aberrant, if not plain subversive. And if the recent economic crisis had the potential to make us stop, it has de-facto only exacerbated our need to remain busy. Doing and consuming have won the day.

Faced with this state of affairs, a cooperative of individuals have decided to create a place to practice ‘being’: the Re-ligare Institute. By fostering and celebrating not-doing, not-having, stopping, and wholeness, the organization intends to give people a space to step back and become reconnected with themselves, others, and nature. Faculty, administration, and staff will support patrons to accomplish such goals and conduct research concerning the practice of being. Architecture is to become a sanctuary for finding, studying, enjoying, and developing being. As such the building will provide a necessary retreat from real world dis-eases, promote healing, and foster a re-connection at the individual and collective levels. Given its intense focus on being, the Re-ligare Institute demands a building of great quality that highlights phenomenological presence at all levels and scales.

Developing being means to offer pedagogies directed to the subjective (personal, individual self), intersubjective (social, collective self), and objective (environmental, no-self) dimensions of human experience. This translates into practices directed to observing, studying, exercising, and expressing being’s mind, body, and connectivity to others and nature. And while these aspects of being do not occur in isolation, it is appropriate to focus on one or the other to foster particular developmental gains. Hence, the Re-ligare Institute demands programmatic separation and connection, that is, dedicated places to work on our physique or inner mental-scape as well as areas where we can come together in society and nature. For this reason, the Institute seeks to establish fluid yet carefully crafted relationships between urban and architectural spaces, exterior and interior, culture and nature, self and others, and so on. In the spirit of healing and growing being, the Institute professes sustainability understood in its widest and deepest sense: the affirmation, appreciation, and support of all life.

The Re-ligare Institute will be sited on an urban lot to be chosen by the Faculty Sponsor or the student. The locations of the ACSA member institutions are diverse, but all have some proximity to an urban context. The criteria for site selection include the following:

• Size: the site should be no larger than 1/2 acre
• Context: the surrounding buildings must be an average of 3-4 stories or 40-50 feet in height at the least
• Amenity: the site should be within a 1/4 mile of urban amenities including functions such as libraries, retail, and housing
• Access: the site must have access to public transportation such as light rail, commuter rail, subway, or bus
• Street Presence: the site should have street level pedestrian activity or the potential for such as to promote the idea of the retreat in the city

The Re-ligare Institute professes four principles of connection and healing toward a sense of being: 
Body, Mind, Social, and Nature

The program is thus to provide spaces that meet the functional criteria for each of these principles of being. The spaces are not meant to be discrete, but rather overlap, connect and be interdependent. It is the responsibility of the student designer and Faculty Sponsor to determine the degree to which the programmatic spaces engage or are separate based on their individual understanding and approach to the project.

Refer to the International Building Code and the local zoning ordinance for information on parking requirements, height restrictions, set backs, easements, flood, egress, and fire containment. ADA is applicable for this competition.

The design project must be conceived in structural steel construction. A strategy should be considered that evaluates a method for taking advantage of steel’s properties and characteristics in order to conceptualize and propose a critical evaluation of a mind and body center.


Silent Garden for Mind & Meditation 4000 S.F.
Social Garden for Body & Working 8000 S.F.
Music Garden 4000 S.F.



Meditation / Worship 2500 S.F.
Classrooms (2) 750 S.F.
Library / Reference Room 1000 S.F.
Large Lecture / Performance Hall 2500 S.F.
Music Rooms (2) 750 S.F.
Dancing Room: 1500 S.F.
Yoga Room: 1500 S.F.
Spinning Room: 1500 S.F.
Weight Room: 1500 S.F.

Relaxation / Refection Spa:
Check-In, Lobby 500 S.F.
Sauna, cold plunge, hot pool, steam room 3000 S.F.
Bathroom / Locker / Shower (men) 500 S.F.
Bathroom / Locker / Shower (women) 500 S.F.
Massage (4 rooms) 1500 S.F.
Hydro Therapy Pool Room: 1500 S.F.
Laundry: 500 S.F.

CafeÅL / Juice Bar: 500 S.F.
Co-op Organic Food Restaurant 2000 S.F.


Re-ligare Institute Lobby 500 S.F.
Re-ligare Institute Director Office 150 S.F.
Re-ligare Institute Administrative Assistant 150 S.F.
Re-ligare Institute Records / Memberships 200 S.F.
Re-ligare Institute Retail Shop 1000 S.F.
Research Laboratories (2) 1500 S.F.
Nutritionist Staff 150 S.F.
Spiritual Staff 150 S.F.
Therapist / Counselor (2) 300 S.F.
Trainer (2) 300 S.F.
Doctor Staff 150 S.F.
Treatment Rooms (2) 300 S.F.
Staff Conference Room 300 S.F.

SUPPORT SPACES (15-20 % of total):

Loading Dock/Shipping Room


Steel Competition Program (PDF)