2020 Steel Competition

Urban Food Hub & Open


June 10, 2020


June 10, 2020

Submission Deadline

Summer 2020

Winners Announced

Fall 2020

Publication of Summary Book

Competition Overview

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) is pleased to announce the 20th annual Steel Design Student Competition for the 2019-2020 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 undergraduate and graduate 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 or one custom-designed steel structure, with special emphasis placed on innovation in steel design.

The Opportunities

The 2020 Steel Design Student Competition will offer architecture students the opportunity to compete in two separate categories:


Challenges architecture students to design an Urban Food Hub in an urban context of the student’s and sponsoring faculty’s selection.

* Students may not enter both categories of the competition.

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.

Design Advantages of Steel

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, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, and the ability to span great distances with minimal 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.

Steel can be easily modified during the life cycle of a building to accommodate changing occupant requirements. As the most recycled material in the world, steel is an environmentally sound building material choice. Architects praise the natural beauty of steel and are excited about exposing it in the design of their structures to emphasize grace, slenderness and strength, and in their building envelopes to enhance environmental performance and aesthetic character.


The design jury will meet in Summer 2020 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 www.acsa‑ and the AISC web site at

Winning students and their faculty sponsors will receive cash prizes totaling $14,000 with distribution as follows:


in cash prizes
StudentFaculty Sponsor
First Prize$2,500$1,000
Second Prize$1,500$750
Third Prize$750$500
Category II: OPEN
StudentFaculty Sponsor
First Prize$2,500$1,000
Second Prize$1,500$750
Third Prize$750$500

A limited number of honorable mentions may also be awarded at the jury’s discretion. Prize‑winning submissions will be exhibited at the 2021 ACSA Annual Meeting and the 2021 AIA National Convention as well as published in a competition summary publication.


Because the support of AISC is largely derived from steel companies whose markets are mainly in the U.S., the competition is open to students from ACSA Full and Candidate Member Schools from the U.S. and Canada, as well as ACSA Affiliate Members Schools from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico only.

The competition is open to upper level students (third year or above, including graduate students). All student entrants are required to work under the direction of a faculty sponsor. Entries will be accepted for individuals as well as teams. Teams must be limited to a maximum of five students. Submissions should be principally the product of work in a design studio or related class.

(Competition Program written and developed by: Ming Hu, University of Maryland; along with Eric Wayne Ellis, ACSA; & Christina Harber, AISC).


Edwin Hernández
Programs Coordinator

Eric W. Ellis
Senior Director of Operations and Programs