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Design the Next-Generation Facade

Submission: February 1, 2018
Registration: February 1, 2018
Language: English
Location: Concept
Prizes: $15,000 grand prize
Type: Open


The Metals in Construction magazine 2018 Design Challenge is a competition to generate ideas for a facade system that can play a major role in enhancing employee health and well-being. This ideas competition is based on the philosophy that the 21st century facade needs to be adaptive and responsive to human needs, especially in the workplace. With researchers probing beyond workplace aesthetics to examine holistic factors, we are learning that air and water quality, thermal control, and especially visual access to outdoor environments can directly improve employee well-being.

These findings are important not only to those in the workforce but also to the organizations employing them. Increased well-being has been found to boost productivity and shrink recovery time from stress and mental fatigue. By 2025, 75 percent of the working population will be made up of millennials, who exhibit notably different working styles and preferences than previous generations, among them the demand for a healthy, engaging work environment. With this mentality permeating all areas of workplace culture, organizations must be poised to offer WELL Building design features and other amenities essential to attract and retain the the most ambitious and tech-savvy workers. Enlightened organizations realize that increasing worker productivity by just 1 percent pays for a lot of these amenities.

This Design Brief asks architects and engineers, students and practitioners, to address this real-world concern by thinking about the next generation of building enclosures. What role does the facade system play in making workers both happier and healthier? Research shows that to a large extent employee well-being is a result of connecting the occupants of spaces within a building with the world outside. The Metals in Constructionmagazine 2018 Design Challenge invites you to imagine designing a functioning enclosure that explores this connection.

Your challenge: Conceptualize a state-of-the-art curtain wall system for a hypothetical 30-story office tower to be located on a 2.65-acre (115,244-square-foot) waterfront site, with 230,500 buildable square feet, at 500 Kent Avenue in the heart of Brooklyn’s developing tech hub.

About the site (source: Cushman & Wakefield): 500 Kent Avenue is situated in South Williamsburg immediately adjoining the emerging Brooklyn Navy Yard and Brooklyn Tech Triangle office markets. Close proximity to the East River Ferry and the J M Z trains connecting Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens as well anticipated arrival of the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) streetcar further contribute to the attractiveness of this unique offering in rapidly evolving North Brooklyn neighborhood.

With an approximate footprint of 2.65 acres in an M3-1 zoning district, the parcel carries up to 230,488 buildable square feet of as-of right commercial development rights. The future project will also benefit from waterfront exposure with panoramic Manhattan views and a roughly 648 feet of frontage along Kent and Division Avenues.

Specific Design Guidelines

The curtain wall system is to enclose a building having a primary frame of structural steel depicted as a core and shell enclosing virtually column-free class A office space suitable for technology hub tenancy. Site development, interior layout, and amenities may be depicted as necessary to illustrate functionality, but the focus of the competition is on the concept for the building facade.

Submissions must demonstrate the use of innovative design elements that are incorporated to illustrate the facade’s unique functionality in connecting occupants withvisual access to natural environments. They must also clearly satisfy conventional moisture protection, thermal performance, sound attenuation, and fire safety requirements. The use of durable materials with longer lifetimes, and of materials produced with fewer carbon emissions, will be considered in the judging. However, the required scope of this challenge is the goal of enhancing employee contentment, engagement, and productivity through the facade design. It is acceptable to assume a completely generic structural system and doing so will not detract from an entry’s judging.


The Metals in Construction magazine 2018 Design Challenge is open to both students and professionals in the architecture and engineering disciplines. Employees of sponsors are not eligible. All entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules. Each proposal is expected to fulfill the design criteria outlined in the Design Brief.

Entry Fee

The entry fee for the competition is $100 for students and $125 for professional teams or individual entrants who register before November 1, 2017; fee changes to $125 for students and $150 for professionals after November 1, 2017.

Submission Requirements

Registration and submission are handled completely through www.metalsinconstruction.org. The process is composed of three parts:

  • Entrant Information – Contact information of the individual or team submitting. This will not be shared with judges and is only for contact purposes.
  • Project Description – A series of descriptive points related to the design and process of the submission.
  • Proposal Visualization – Up to 10 pages may be submitted to represent the proposal. This attachment should be one (1) multi-page PDF file (max. 10 pages) formatted at 11”x17” (ledger) and can include supporting backup data, calculations, and commentary to supplement the images. Do not link or embed objects. Maximum file size is 20MB.
  • All materials are due by February 1, 2018, 11:59 p.m. Once you register via this site, you or your teammates may log in and edit your competition entry as many times as you like until the deadline.


One grand prize of $15,000 to be awarded at a half-day conference at The TimesCenterin New York City on Friday, February 23, 2018. Along with the winner(s), up to 10 honorable mentions will be chosen for presentation and discussion at the conference. The winner and the top five finalists will also be published in Metals in Construction magazine and its digital platforms.

Go to the competition’s website