Competition Guidelines


March 28, 2012-EXTENDED   Registration Deadline (free registration)
May 24, 2012                              Submission Deadline
July 2012                                     Prize winners chosen by the design jury
Fall 2012                                     Competition Summary Publication

Winning students and their faculty sponsors will receive cash prizes totaling $14,000. The design jury will meet in 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 AISC web site at

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


Category I Culinary College
            Category II         Open
 First Prize
           First Prize  
           Student  $2,500
 Faculty Sponsor
 $1,000            Faculty Sponsor  $1,000
 Second Prize
             Second Prize  
 $1,500            Student  $1,500
 Faculty Sponsor
 $750            Faculty Sponsor  $750
 Third Prize              Third Prize  
 Student  $750            Student  $750
 Faculty Sponsor  $500            Faculty Sponsor  $500

A limited number of honorable mentions may also be awarded at the jury’s discretion. ACSA reserves the right to alter prize categories and designate special awards per discretion of the competition jury. Prize winning submissions will be exhibited at the 2013 ACSA Annual Meeting and at the 2013 AIA National Convention and will be published in a competition summary catalog.

Because the support of AISC is largely derived from steel organizations in the U.S., the competition is open to students from ACSA member schools in 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 individual as well as team solutions. 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.

A faculty sponsor is required to enroll students by completing an online registration form (available at by March 28, 2012-EXTENDED. Complete a form for your 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 institution is left to the discretion of the faculty within the guidelines set forth in this document. Work on the competition should be structured over the course of one semester during the 2011-2012 academic year.

Each faculty sponsor is expected to develop a system to evaluate the students’ work using the criteria set forth in this program. The evaluation process should be 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. In addressing the specific issues of the design challenge, submissions must clearly demonstrate the design solution’s response to the following requirements:

  • An elegant expressive understanding of the material – Steel;
  • A strength of the argument and the proposal’s ability to support the concept for the design (Category I);
  • An articulate mastery of formal concepts and aesthetic values;
  • A mature awareness and innovative approach to environmental issues;
  • A thorough appreciation of human needs and social responsibilities;
  • A capability to integrate functional aspects of the problem in an architectural manner, and
  • A capacity to derive a design, using steel, with the maximum innovation and possibility.

Each presentation must directly address the criteria outlined in the Design Challenge and Criteria for Judging and must include (but are not limited to) the following required drawings: site plan showing the surrounding buildings, topography, and circulation patterns; floor plans; elevations and building sections sufficient to show site context and major program elements; large scale drawing(s), either orthographic or three dimensional, illustrating the use of structural steel; 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. Submission must include:

  • 4 digital boards at 20” x 20”;
  • illustrate graphically or otherwise the use of steel construction;
  • a design essay or abstract;

Submissions that do not adhere to the program criteria outlined must provide a program brief (required for all entrants in Category II – OPEN). 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 20” digital boards. The names of student participants, their schools, or faculty sponsors, must NOT appear on the boards.

All boards are required to be uploaded through the ACSA 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.

A brief essay, 500 words maximum, (in English) is required as part of the submission describing the most important concepts of the design project. Keep in mind that the presentation 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 the final entries that must be uploaded through the ACSA Competition website at by 5:00 pm, Eastern Time, on May 24, 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. You may “save” your submission and return to complete. Please note, the submission is not complete until the “complete this submission” button has been pressed. For team projects: each member of team projects 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”x20” boards uploaded individually as a high resolution Portable Document Format (PDF) or image (JPEG) files;
  • A design essay or abstract (simple copy/paste text box completed during submission);
  • A competition program (2,000 word max in a simple copy/paste text box during submission).

Winning projects will be required to submit high resolution original files/images for use in competition publications and exhibit materials.

Program updates, including information on jury members as they are confirmed, may be found on the ACSA web site at

Additional questions on the competition program and submissions should be addressed to:

Eric W. Ellis, Director of Operations and Programs
Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture
1735 New York Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: 202.785.2324

Steel Competition Program (PDF)