Registration Deadline: April 9, 2025

2025 Steel Competition

Library+ & Open

Schedule

April 9, 2025

Registration Deadline

June 4, 2025

Submission Deadline

Summer 2025

Jury Convenes

Fall 2025

Winners Announced

The OPPORTUNITIES

Library + & Open

The 2025 Steel Design Student Competition will offer architecture students the opportunity to compete in two separate categories:

Category I: Library +

The community library stands as a pillar for independent information where ideas of all can be freely exchanged and explored. While integrating new technology, expanding services, and adding space for the community to interact, libraries continue to evolve. You are invited to site your library in an urban area of your choice, and then supply the information to finish the brief’s title of “Library +”?  As libraries have the opportunity within a specific environment to respond to unique needs, what else could a library contribute to the community to become an even more integral part of the civic fabric? The project will include a defined program for a library, and each entry will include an added space for the community defined by you that cannot exceed 50% of the library area.

Category II: Open

Category II 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.

About the Competition

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) is pleased to announce the 25th Annual Steel Design Student Competition for the 2024-2025 academic year. Administered by the 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, with special emphasis placed on innovation in steel design.

CHECK BACK

for the full program
August 2024

The competition allows students to explore the many functional and aesthetic uses for steel as a building material and structural system. Steel is an ideal material for multi-story building because it offers the greatest strength-to-weight ratio. In addition, steel can be constructed quickly and for all project site types with the use of labor-saving prefabrication methods such as kit-of-parts, panelization, and modular construction. A building built with steel is potentially more flexible and adaptable to allow for a change in program, occupancy, and loading needs over time.

Awards + Recognition

The design jury will meet in Summer 2025 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 and the AISC web site at www.aisc.org. Winning students and their faculty sponsors will receive cash prizes totaling $20,000 with distribution as follows:

$20,000

in cash prizes
Category I: Library +

Student(s)

Faculty Sponsor(s)

First Place

$4,000 USD

$1,500 USD

Second Place

$2,000 USD

$1,000 USD

Third Place

$1,000 USD

$500 USD

Category II: Open

Student(s)

Faculty Sponsor(s)

First Place

$4,000 USD

$1,500 USD

Second Place

$2,000 USD

$1,000 USD

Third Place

$1,000 USD

$500 USD

A limited number of honorable mentions may also be awarded at the jury’s discretion. Prize‑winning submissions will be exhibited at the 2026 ACSA Annual Meeting and the 2026 AIA National Convention as well as published in a competition summary publication.

Advantages of Steel

Steel has a natural beauty that can be exposed to emphasize grace, slenderness and strength in space and form, as well as in building envelopes to enhance environmental performance and aesthetic character.

Resiliency
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.

Efficiency
Steel offers the greatest strength-to-weight ratio of structural materials. In addition, steel can be constructed quickly and for all project site types with the use of labor-saving prefabrication methods such as kit-of-parts, panelization, and modular construction. A building built with steel is potentially more flexible and adaptable to allow for a change in program, occupancy, and loading needs over time. Steel, if desired by the architect, can be graceful, nimble, and minimal in its bulk both in plan and section, and it integrates easily with other systems and materials.

Sustainability
Using steel is a highly sustainable option. The production of raw US structural steel involves in upwards of 93% recycled content, keeping your old cars and appliances out of landfills. At the end of a building’s life, 98% of all structural steel is recycled into new steel products, with no loss of its physical properties. As such, structural steel isn’t just recycled but “multi-cycled,” as it can be recycled over and over and over again. It is truly a cradle-to-cradle material, and few materials can claim that.
Steel Sustainability

Expression
Exposed and curved steel is an art, providing endless possibilities for architectural expression. Curved steel enhances the visibility of any building project – from the largest monumental project to that building down your street. Curved steel is one way to increase the design creativity of your next building project. And most importantly, curved steel is readily available nationally from a number of qualified AISC Associate Member Bender-Rollers. AISC information on curved steel: aisc.org/curvedsteel.

For more information, see the 2025 Studio Guide (coming soon).

Eligibility

Because the support of AISC is largely derived from steel companies whose markets are mainly in the U.S., the ACSA/AISC Steel Design Student Competition is open to students and/or student teams from ACSA Full and Candidate Member Schools, as well as ACSA Affiliate Members Schools from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

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.

Image Credits: 2015 Steel Design Student Competition, Honorable Mention, Category I: Library
Project Title: The Cormac McCarthy Library
Students: Kristin Bowman & Emanuel Huber-Feely
Faculty Sponsor: Kevin Stevens
Institution: University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Competition Organizers & Sponsors

Edwin Hernández-Ventura
Programs Coordinator
ehernandez@acsa-arch.org
202.785.2324

Eric W. Ellis
Senior Director of Operations and Programs
eellis@acsa-arch.org
202-785-2324