AISC Seeks Innovative Projects for IDEAS² Award Competition Like No Other

The American Institute of Steel Construction’s flagship competition for structures is now accepting entries--and the 2022 competition is breaking new ground!

AISC’s Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel (IDEAS²) Awards recognize outstanding projects that illustrate the exciting possibilities of structural steel. They are the industry’s top design honor.

This year, we’ll harness the power of YouTube to draw attention to outstanding steel projects across the country. The teams behind three finalists in each category will present their projects to the judges in online streams throughout December, and they’ll also have the opportunity to reprise their presentations live at NASCC: The Steel Conference in Denver, March 23-25, 2022.

“I’m always excited to see remarkable structures built with American steel,” said AISC President Charles J. Carter, SE, PE, PhD. “Great minds create amazing things with steel every day--structures they’ll tell their kids and grandkids about. It's thrilling and inspiring to witness the magic that happens when they bring their visions to life. This year I’m particularly looking forward to sharing these outstanding projects with the world, live on YouTube!”

The IDEAS² Awards showcase the innovative use of structural steel in:

  • the accomplishment of the structure's program

  • the expression of architectural intent

  • the application of innovative design approaches to the structural system

  • leveraging productivity-enhancing construction methods

IDEAS² Awards don’t only go to high-profile projects. In recent years, AISC has honored everything from gorgeous pedestrian bridges to creative public transit projects in addition to jaw-dropping high-rises and striking education buildings. All we ask is innovation and imaginative design!

Entries are due by Sept. 8, 2021. AISC will announce the winners during the 2022 NASCC: The Steel Conference in Denver, March 23-25.

The winners will also be featured in the May 2022 issue of Modern Steel Construction magazine. In addition to substantial press support and publicity through AISC’s own print and online media, winning teams have the unique opportunity to present their projects to the AEC community during special webinars or live events throughout the year. If possible, AISC will conduct an on-site award presentation during 2022.

Visit for more information and to enter.

Eligibility requirements

  • New buildings, expansions, and renovation projects (major retrofits and rehabilitations) are eligible. There is also a category for sculptures, art installations, and non-building structures.

  • Building projects in the 2022 competition must be located in the U.S. and must be completed between Jan. 1, 2019, and Sept. 8, 2021.

  • A significant portion of the framing system of a building must be wide-flange or hollow structural steel sections (HSS).

  • The majority of the steel used in the project must be domestically produced. 

  • The project must have been fabricated by a company eligible for AISC full membership. Projects with a unique or distinctive feature fabricated by a company eligible for AISC full membership will also be considered.

  • Pedestrian bridges entered in the competition must be an intrinsic part of a building and not stand-alone structures. We encourage members of project teams for standalone bridges to enter the 2022 National Steel Bridge Alliance's Prize Bridge Awards.

History of the program

AISC’s award programs have celebrated landmark structures built with structural steel since 1960. These architectural icons span generations and stand the test of time. AISC recognizes and promotes these projects in recognition of their impact in terms of structural innovation, advances in safety, benefit to the local community, and environmental consciousness.

The prestigious list of winners includes such enduring landmarks as:

  • One World Trade Center, New York

  • The Gateway Arch, St. Louis

  • Willis Tower, Chicago

  • The National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington

  • The PanAm Passenger Terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York

In 2021, 10 projects around the country won IDEAS² Awards in six categories:

Less than $15 Million:

  • National Award: Jacksonport State Park Visitors Center, Newport, Ark.

  • Merit Award: Ballston Quarter Pedestrian Walkway, Arlington, Va.

  • Merit Award: McDonald’s Net Zero Quick Service Restaurant Rebuild, Kissimmee, Fla.

$15 Million to $75 Million:

  • National Award: Truist Leadership Institute, Greensboro, N.C.

  • Merit Award: Watershed Building, Seattle

$75 Million to $200 Million:

  • National Award: The Heights School, Arlington, Va.

Greater than $200 Million:

  • National Award: Dickies Arena, Fort Worth

Sculpture/Art Installation/Non-building Structure:

  • National Award: Moscone Center Expansion - Pedestrian Bridges, San Francisco

  • Merit Award: A Monumental Journey, Des Moines, Iowa

Presidential Award for Excellence in Adaptive Reuse:

  • Uber Advanced Technologies Group R&D Center, San Francisco

A video highlighting the 2021 IDEAS² Award winners is available here. AISC also has a selection of images of the 2021 IDEAS² Award-winning projects available for press use.