The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) is pleased to announce the fourteenth annual steel design student competition for the 2013-2014 academic year. Administered by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), the program wass intended to challenge 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. 


The 2013-2014 Steel Design Student Competition offered architecture students the opportunity to compete in two separate categories. A total of $14,000 will be distributed in cash prizes.

Category I BORDER-CROSSING STATIONchallenged architecture students to design a border-crossing station sited on a boundary between two countries. Steel offers great benefits in this endeavor, as it allows for longer spans and more creativity.

Category II OPEN
offered 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.


Steel should be used as the primary structural material with special emphasis placed on innovation in steel design. Structural steel offers a number of strengths in building design including high resiliency and performance under harsh and difficult conditions, (e.g., earthquakes and hurricanes) and offers the ability to span great distances with slenderness and grace. Steel can be shaped to achieve curved forms and can be erected quickly to meet tough construction schedules under almost any weather condition. Steel can be easily modified to satisfy the life cycle of a building including changing occupant requirements. Steel is the most recycled material in the world. Today structural steel is 97% recycled with the primary source of material being automobiles. It is the environmentally sound choice for a building material. Architects have praised the natural beauty of steel and are excited about exposing it in the design of their structures to emphasize grace, slenderness, strength and transparency of frame.


This project category is to develop a design for a border-crossing station guided by the principles of innovation, creativity, iconic Identity, sustainability, functionality, efficiency, and either harmony or purposeful disharmony with the neighboring context border depending on the story that the student wished to tell through their project. Design solutions should be driven by culturally significant imagery based on the border and the site’s visual and literal unifying elements.

The main design challenges are to determine a suitable scale of station, and to resolve the specific program requirements to work with complex site circulation needs and other contextual restrictions. Buildings may become a network of spaces for determined vehicle crossing checkpoints and/or a series of ancillary support spaces to accommodate the increase in border crossing activities that might be seasonal.


The category offered architecture students the opportunity to participate in an open competition category with limited restrictions. This category allowed the students (with the approval of a faculty sponsor) to select a site and building program. 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. The project should in part explore the use of Architecturally Exposed Structural Steel.

         Sponsor: American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), headquartered in Chicago, is a non-profit technical institute and trade association established in 1921 to serve the structural steel design community and construction industry in the United States. AISC’s mission is to make structural steel the material of choice by being the leader in structural-steel-related technical and market-building activities, including: specification and code development, research, education, technical assistance, quality certification, standardization, and market development. AISC has a long tradition of more than 90 years of service to the steel construction industry providing timely and reliable information. Membership to AISC is free to university faculty and full time students and AISC membership provides valuable benefits. Information can be found at under membership.
      Administrative Organization: The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture is a nonprofit, membership association founded in 1912 to advance the quality of architectural education. The school membership in ACSA has grown from 10 charter members to over 250 schools in several membership categories. These include full membership for all accredited programs in the United States and government-sanctioned schools in Canada, candidate membership for schools seeking accreditation, and affiliate membership for schools for two-year and international programs. Through these schools, over 5,000 architecture faculty members are represented. In addition, over 500 supporting members composed of architecture firms, product associations and individuals add to the breadth of interest and support of ACSA goals. ACSA provides a major forum for ideas on the leading edge of architectural thought. Issues that will affect the architectural profession in the future are being examined today in ACSA member schools.


The projects will be on view at the 103rd ACSA Annual Meeting in Toronto, Ontario (March 2015) and the American Institute of Architects Annual Convention in Atlanta, GA (May 2015).


ACSA & AISC will be publishing a full competition summary book (Fall 2014) highlighting all of the winners, including more images and additional information on all projects.

+ Check out past competition winners