Summer 2011

Development of Competition Program and Details

March 28, 2012

Registration Deadline - EXTENDED

May 22, 2012

Submission Deadline

Summer 2012

Winners Announced


The design jury will meet in June/July 2012 to select winning projects and honorable mentions. Winners and their faculty sponsors will be notified of the competition results directly. A list of winning projects will be posted on the ACSA web site at and the I2SL web site at Winning students and their faculty sponsors will receive cash prizes totaling $14,000.

Additional Benefits:

  • Concepts and strategies contained in all submissions, not just winning submissions, have the opportunity of being applied at the actual MREC campus. Students' contributions would be recognized if this were to occur.
  • All concepts and strategies, including student contact information if provided, will be placed on the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories website. This information will therefore be available to any marine, island, or laboratory project worldwide.
  • Winning students may be considered for internships with competition sponsors and other organizations involved in the sustainable laboratory community.
  • Winning groups and instructors may be flown to San Jose, California, USA for the Labs21 2012 Annual Conference. They will be recognized in the conference Opening Plenary, given an opportunity to present their projects during the technical sessions, honored during the conference awards luncheon or an evening reception, and photographed for publication.

Students from all Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture member schools around the world will be eligible to participate in the competition. Students may work individually or in teams and must work with a faculty sponsor on the submission. Teams must be limited to a maximum of five students. There will be no additional fee for eligible students to participate in the competition.

The official language of the competition is English.

A faculty sponsor is required to enroll students by completing an online registration form (available at by March 28, 2012-EXTENDED. Faculty may complete a form for the entire studio or for each individual student or team of students participating. Students or teams wishing to enter the competition on their own must have a faculty sponsor who should complete the form. There is no entry or submission fee to participate in the competition. Each registered student and faculty sponsor will receive a confirmation email that will include information on how the student(s) will upload final submissions online. Please add the email address to your address book to ensure that you receive all emails regarding your submission.

During registration the faculty will have the ability to add students, add teams, assign students to teams, and add additional faculty. Registration is required by March 28, 2012-EXTENDED, but can be changed, edited, and added to until a student starts a final submission; then the registration is no longer editable. Faculty may assign a "Faculty Representative" to a registered student. This "Faculty Representative" will have access to change, edit, and add to the registration.

The administration of the competition at each school is left to the discretion of the faculty sponsor within the guidelines set forth in this document. Work on the competition may be structured over the course of one or two semesters (Fall 2011 and/or Spring 2012).

Refer to the International Building Code for information on standard requirements. Participants should follow the principles of universal and sustainable design.

All competition submission must include:

  • Four digital presentation boards for the laboratory sized at 20" x 30" each. The digital boards should clearly show the students response and design solutions, with one board dedicated to each of the following: the laboratory model, sustainable resolution and campus plan.
  • A 500 word maximum design essay that supports the above mentioned design presentation boards by describing the proposed campus infrastructure.

Incomplete or undocumented entries will be disqualified. All drawings should be presented at a scale appropriate to the design solution and include a graphic scale and north arrow.

Submissions must be designed on no more than four 20" x 30" digital boards. The names of student participants, their schools, or faculty sponsors, must NOT appear on the boards. The digital boards should clearly show the students response and design solutions, with one board dedicated to each of the following: the laboratory model, sustainable resolution, and campus plan.

All boards are required to be uploaded through the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture website in Portable Document Format (PDF) or image (JPEG) files. Participants should keep in mind that, due to the large number of entries, preliminary review does not allow for the hanging end-to-end display of presentation boards. Accordingly, participants should not use text or graphics that cross over from board to board. The names of student participants, their schools, or faculty sponsors, must NOT appear on any of the submitted material.

The digital presentation boards must directly address the criteria outlined in the Evaluation Criteria section and must include (but are not limited to) the following elements.

For the laboratory:

  • Floor plans and circulation patterns.
  • Elevations and building sections.
  • Laboratory module layout.
  • Building materials and application.
  • Building systems and system integration strategies within the laboratory.
  • Control strategies for daylighting, occupancy, air supply and exhaust, and energy management.
  • Large scale drawing(s), either orthographic or three dimensional.
  • A three dimensional representation in the form of either an axonometric, perspective, or model photographs, one of which should illustrate the character of the project.

For the campus:

  • Site plan showing infrastructure systems such as energy generation, waste management and recovery, water treatment and recovery, transportation and accessibility.
  • Plan for managing proposed infrastructure services, such as energy distribution, throughout the campus.

Please note that the digital presentation boards should graphically convey the design solution and context as much as possible, and not rely on the design essay to convey a basic understanding of the project.

A 500 word maximum essay (in English) is required as part of the submission to support the campus schematic by describing the proposed campus infrastructure. Keep in mind that the digital presentation boards should graphically convey the design solution and context as much as possible and not rely on the design essay to convey a basic understanding of the project.

The names of student participants, their schools, or faculty sponsors, must NOT appear in the design essay. This abstract is included in the final online submission, completed by the student(s) in a simple copy/paste text box.

The student is required to submit final entries through the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture competition website at by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on May 22, 2012.

If the submission is from a team of students all student team members will have the ability to upload the digital files. Once the final submit button is pressed no additional edits, uploads, or changes can be made. Once the final Submission is uploaded and submitted each student will receive a confirmation email notification. The submission is not complete until the "complete this submission" button has been pressed. You may "save" your submission and return to complete it later. For team projects, any member of team may submit the final project.

A final submission upload must contain the following:

  • Completed online registration including all team members and faculty sponsors.
  • Each of the four 20" x 30" boards uploaded individually as high resolution Portable Document Format (PDF) documents or image (JPEG) files.
  • A design essay (500 word maximum essay).

Winning projects will be required to submit high resolution original files/images for use in competition publications and exhibit materials. Upon receipt, submissions become the property of Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories.

Faculty sponsors are expected to develop a system to evaluate the work of their students using the criteria set forth in this document. Describing performance goals is encouraged as an integral part of the design process, encouraging students to scrutinize their work in a manner similar to that of the jury.

The final result of the design process will be a submission of up to four presentation boards describing the design solution (see Digital Presentation Format and Required Drawings sections of this document). In addressing the specific issues of the Competition Program, submissions must clearly demonstrate the design solution's response to the following Evaluation Criteria:

  • Beneficial Ecological Impact
    The design solution should achieve energy and environmental performance goals that significantly reduce energy use and environmental impact compared to standard practice. To this end, the project should adopt a whole-building design process (see definition below) that appropriately integrates building systems for performance. The project should consider life-cycle costs and benefits in adopting green design strategies pertaining to energy use, water conservation, and materials.
  • A whole-building design process refers to the process where designers and operators with various expertise collaborate to achieve a common objective. The fundamental challenge of whole building design is to understand that all building systems are interdependent and the result of each set of decisions has a cascading impact on other design decisions. For example, the design of a daylighting system is the result of an architect designing a window system, working with an engineer designing a lighting and lighting control system, and an interior designer selecting wall color and interior furnishings. The result of this collaborative decision process is then used by the mechanical engineer when sizing the heating and cooling system and specifying duct sizes. The goal of the process is to lead to a building design where the building works and can be maintained for the life of the building as one integrated system.
  • Minimal or No Fossil Energy Consumption
    The Government of the Virgin Islands requires a 25 percent reduction in fossil energy consumption in the Virgin Islands by 2020. Normally, placing a facility like the Marine Research and Education Center on the island would inhibit the ability for the island territory to achieve this goal. Therefore, to increase the likelihood of achieving the 25 percent goal, students should rely heavily on reducing demand through energy-efficient building systems and generating the remaining energy loads with renewable energy from any and all naturally occurring sources.
  • Ecologically Sensitive Water and Waste Water Systems
    Caribbean communities either thrive or fail based on how they manage their fresh water resources. U.S. Virgin Islands code requires rainwater collection; and municipal water/sewer is not available at the project site. Furthermore, chemicals from treated water, failed septic systems, and poorly managed storm runoff are major contributors to decline in coral populations. The Marine Research and Education Center needs to capture, treat, store, and return its fresh water resources in a manner beneficial to the neighboring ecosystems.
  • Minimal or No Impact to the Marine or Natural Environments During Construction
    Students should seek to limit waste generation, emissions, or erosion of the natural environments of the Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve as well as the island of St. Croix. This project is envisioned as a zero waste model for island construction.
  • Architectural Expression that Embraces the Ethic of Culture, Sustainability, and Restoration
    The design solution should demonstrate sustainable/restorative design as an integral and synergistic element of an architecture that is aesthetically delightful and contextually sensitive to people, place, and time. Many projects have as a goal the reduction of environmental impacts. The goal of this project is to design a facility that becomes a net asset to the occupants, campus, and community. The building itself should become a learning tool that invites and engages the campus community to see and experience sustainable design and, thereby, increase awareness of the positive ecological impacts a building can have.
  • Integration of Solutions with Sustainable/Restorative Design Strategies
    Architectural design and engineered systems must reinforce the common commitment to sustainability and restoration both in form and function as well as support long-term sustainable operations.
  • Maintainability of Products and Facility
    The delivery of a sustainably constructed and designed facility is only a first step toward meeting the objectives of this competition. The ability and durability of design, components, products, and systems must be readily accessible, cost effective in their maintenance, and long-lasting in providing the service for which they were intended. The maintenance process itself must have low environmental impacts on the staff, building occupants, and the community.
  • Design for Human Performance
    The design solution should support and enhance the learning process through spatial configurations that foster collaboration between students and their faculty, and through spaces that achieve high levels of indoor environmental quality pertaining to ergonomics, thermal comfort, visual quality, acoustic performance, and indoor air quality.
  • Design for Research Functionality
    The laboratory shall be designed to incorporate elements needed for modern marine science research with appropriate adjacencies between the indoor laboratories, classrooms, and outdoor research spaces.
  • Design for Flexibility and Adaptability
    The design solution should allow for changes in programmatic needs and associated laboratory configurations by using modular design and flexible distribution systems in order to reduce waste generation in the future and disruption of the building functions, and incorporates life-cycle strategies that consider living marine systems that are at once restorative and adaptive.
  • Exceptional Innovation
    Special credit will be given to competitors that incorporate particularly innovative ideas in their design solutions - ideas that achieve results beyond the expectations of the sponsors.

The Marine Research and Education Center is a real project being developed by the Joint Institute for Caribbean Marine Studies in partnership with the U.S. government. Students should focus on their own innovative and original designs for the project.

Concepts and strategies contained in all submissions, not just winning submissions, have the opportunity of being applied at the actual Marine Research and Education Center campus. Students' contributions would be recognized if this occurs.