Steel Design Student Competition Winners Announced

The first place winners in this year's Steel Design Student Competition (left to right): VertiCali, designed by Mario Ramos at Texas Tech University; and Juncture, designed by John Berger and Sasha Francoeur at Boston Architectural College. 

Eleven student design projects have been honored in the 16th annual Steel Design Student Competition for the 2015-2016 academic year. Administered by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and sponsored by AISC, the competition encourages architecture students from across North America to explore the use of steel in structural design. A total of $14,000 in cash prizes was awarded to the winning students and their faculty sponsors.

Students competed individually and in teams in two separate categories that required steel to be used as the primary structural material and with special emphasis placed on innovation in steel design. The Tall Buildings category challenged students to find alternative design approaches for tall buildings and create high-rise buildings inspired by the cultural, physical and environmental aspects of place while embracing new technologies. In the Open Category, students were given the flexibility to select a site and building program.

The winners in each category are:

Category I – Tall Buildings

First Place: VertiCali
Student: Mario Ramos
Faculty Sponsor: Peter Stapleton Raab
School: Texas Tech University
Juror comments: “This winning submission is programmatically ambitious, but believable and extremely well resolved.”

Second Place: Diagroup Tower

Students: Scott Proudfoot, Mengdie Zhang, Sarah Donaldson, Gabriela Chorobik
Faculty Sponsor: Terri Meyer Boake
School: University of Waterloo
Juror comments: “This persuasive project came directly off the drawing board and is ready to be built. This building could only be built with structural steel.”

Third Place: Tessellate

Student: Megan Stenftenagel
Faculty Sponsor: Robert J. Koester
School: Ball State University
Juror comments:This successful design put thought into how people actually inhabit the space along with how the exterior transfers to the inside. Impressive understanding and use of steel in both the interior and exterior.”

View the honorable mentions here.

Category II — Open

First Place: Juncture
Students: John Berger, Sasha Francoeur
Faculty Sponsor: Robert Gillig
School: Boston Architectural College
Juror comments: “This winning design is sophisticated and comprehensive with a clear understanding of the material: steel. The steel design shows a hierarchy of structure with a large variety of details and a rich attitude.

Second Place: THE NEST - Guadalupe Nipomo Dunes Wildlife Refuge Interpretive Center

Student: Edern Audrain
Faculty Sponsor: Jonathan Reich
School: California Polytechnic State University
Juror comments: “This small, captivating project treads lightly on the site with steel elements that are well-sized, elegant and delicate.”

Third Place: Productive | Accessible | Ecofriendly: Brownfield Remediation Research Park

Student: Jesus J. Alfonso Pagan
Faculty Sponsors: Luis Ayala-Rubio, Alberto Dueño Jordán, Jesús O. García Beauchamp, Carlos Quiñones-Maymí, Luis Alonso Conty
School: Pontifical Universidad Catolica de Puerto Rico
Juror comments: “This ambitious project’s strength is in the articulation of a programmatic idea while using the delicate steel architecture design to stimulate the remediation of brownfields.”

View the honorable mentions here.

The jurors for the Tall Building category were Antony Wood, Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat; Jon Magnusson, Magnusson Klemencic; and Gail Borthwick, Gensler. The jurors for the Open Category were Doris Sung, University of Southern California; Lee-Su Huang, University of Florida; and Elizabeth O'Donnell, The Cooper Union.

Two hundred and forty projects from 745 students were entered in this year’s competition, and 78 faculty members served as student advisers. In total, 44 universities from across North America took part. To learn more about the competition, visit