Submission Deadline: May 23, 2018

2018 Steel Competition

Affordable Housing & Open


May 23, 2018

Submission Deadline

Summer 2018

Winners Announced

Fall 2018

Publication of Summary Book


The 2017-2018 Steel Design Student Competition is socially oriented to challenge students to design affordable multi-family housing in an urban context.

The need for affordable housing types is on the rise. Populations are moving back to the city, realizing the cost of living, required commuting, and range of quality-of-life options afforded by living near the urban core. Not only for those who have a choice to live in denser environments, but also for low-income populations, housing must be affordable. Today’s housing problems are difficult, but architects are in a unique place to envision innovative solutions to the housing crisis that affects so many.

Steel is an ideal material for affordable multi-story housing because it offers the greatest strength to weight ratio and can be designed systematically as a kit of parts or prefabricated to allow for quicker construction times and less labor, thus reducing the cost of construction. Housing built with steel is potentially more flexible and adaptable to allow for diversity of family structures and changing family needs over time.


The site for the competition is the choice of the student and/or faculty sponsor. It is required, however, for the site to be in a dense urban context, close to public transportation and city amenities.  Submissions will be required to explain graphically or otherwise the site selection and strategy.

Construction Type

The design project must be conceived in structural steel construction.  A strategy should be considered that evaluates a method for reducing overall construction cost for the affordable housing project in steel using innovative methods of structure, fabrication, and construction.


Mixed-use multifamily housing should respect the ethnically and economically diverse urban fabric. The program is to design a new steel building structure and must meet a minimum of eight levels in height. The design must consider the life cycle of the building, mixed income units, residential support spaces and mixed-use spaces.

The functional and programmatic requirements for the residential space outlined below must be met at a minimum. The area allocations, however, are suggestions only and may be altered. Solutions should observe the total gross square footage, within a range of plus or minus ten percent.

Residential Space Allocation

Residential Units

3 bedroom units

10 @ 1,500 sq. ft.

= 15,000 square feet

2 bedroom units

15 @ 1,000 sq. ft.

= 15,000 square feet

1 bedroom units

15 @ 600 sq. ft.

= 9,000 square feet

Live / Work units

10 @ 1,500 sq. ft.

= 15,000 square feet

Additional Residential Support Spaces


= 1,500 square feet


= 500 square feet

Exercise Room

= 1,000 square feet

Mail Room

= 300 square feet

Loading Dock/Waste

= 700 square feet

Total Square Feet for Residence

= 58,000 square feet

Mixed-use Space Allocation

The mixed-use function space should be built on the demands of the city and site selected. Below is a list of possible mixed-used functions with space allocations. Students and/or faculty sponsors can choose from the list below or determine from the demands of the chosen site.

Large Retail

1 @ 20,000 sq. ft.

= 20,000 square feet

Small Retail

10 @ 1500 sq. ft.

= 15,000 square feet


2 @ 5000 sq. ft.

= 10,000 square feet

Office Units

4 @ 1500 sq. ft.

= 6,000 square feet


1 @ 5000 sq. ft.

= 5,000 square feet

Total Square Feet for Mixed-use

= 56,000 square feet

Total Gross Square Feet

= 114,000 square feet

Total Net Square Feet Plus 10% Allowance
– For mechanical areas, circulation, structure, etc.

= 125,400 square feet

Category II – OPEN

The ACSA/AISC 2017-2018 Steel Design Student Competition offers architecture students the opportunity to participate in an open competition with limited restrictions. This category will allow the students (with the approval of the sponsoring faculty member) to select a site and building program.

  • The Category II program should be of equal complexity as the Category I program.
  • Students entering Category II must submit a written building program along with the online submission in the Program Edits (copy/paste text box).

To enter the open competition students may select any building occupancy other than residential.

Students may not enter both categories of the competition.