2020 Winners & Finalists


On March 6, Metals in Construction magazine and the Ornamental Metal Institute of New York named the winner and five finalists for its 2020 Design Challenge at the TimesCenter in New York City. The “Transform a Facade” competition challenged architects and engineers to submit their vision for transforming the facade of one of Manhattan’s 60-year-old buildings to reduce carbon emissions and address the city’s Green New Deal. 

The Metals in Construction magazine 2020 Design Challenge was conceived because of an urgent need for facade retrofit solutions in New York City. Seventy-five percent of the city’s high-rise office buildings are more than a half a century old. Most will still be standing in 2030, a milestone year on New York’s roadmap to carbon neutrality. Since buildings alone account for more than 80 percent of the city’s carbon footprint, equipping as many as possible with energy-efficient features is essential to reducing carbon emissions. 

The ideas competition sought to upgrade an aging, energy-inefficient high-rise office building in order to comply with NYC’s Green New Deal goals and render it more desirable space for companies competing for highly skilled employees in today’s labor market. The site chosen for the challenge was 63 Madison Avenue, a 15-story New York City office high-rise constructed in 1962. Its age makes it typical of the office buildings that populate Manhattan’s NoMad district, many of which are mandated to reduce carbon emissions by 2030 to comply with the city’s new building emissions standards, known as the Climate Mobilization Act (CMA). The CMA’s emissions targets are stringent: to comply, 63 Madison must cut its emissions in half by 2030.

The magazine awarded a $15,000 grand prize to the design judged best at achieving the goals of increasing light into the interior and affording tenants greater visual access to the outdoors while significantly reducing carbon emissions in accordance with the city’s targets. Titled “Second Skin,” the winning proposal was submitted by a team with members from WilkinsonEyre, Eckersley O’Callaghan, Josef Gartner GmbH, MRG Studio, and Level Infrastructure. 

jury, winners, and finalists in attendance at the 2020 Design Challenge awards ceremony.

“We were drawn to this exciting competition initially due to its sustainable credentials,” says Giles Martin, Project Director, WilkinsonEyre. “Rather than imagining a shiny new facade system, it genuinely seeks to solve a very real problem; many of New York’s buildings won’t meet the 2030 targets, but how to retrofit a solution without redeveloping the whole building? With our partners Eckersley O’Callaghan and Gartner we have developed ‘Second Skin,’ a loose-fit system that can be applied to any number of the city’s existing buildings. Giving it a new image and new function for today’s market. After all, the greenest building is one that exists already.”

Grand Prize: Second Skin


This year’s winner was chosen from a field of 31 qualifying entries. The panel of six jurors who awarded the prize include experts in office architecture and facade design and engineering: Gabrielle Brainard, AIA, LEED AP, CHPC, Architect, Building Envelope Consultant, Educator; Margaret Cavenagh, AIA, LEED AP, Studio Gang; Enrica Oliva, M.Sc. Struct. Eng., Werner Sobek New York; John Pachuta, AIA, Heintges; Mic Patterson, PhD, LEED AP+, Facade Tectonics Institute; and Stephen Selkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The grand prize was awarded at a half-day conference at the TimesCenter in New York City on March 6, 2020. The competition was sponsored by the Ornamental Metal Institute of New York.The Metals in Construction magazine 2021 Design Challenge will be sponsored by the Steel Institute of New York with the goal of addressing structural steel challenges in New York City. The full competition brief will be released in Fall 2020.

2020 Finalists

Active and Adaptive


Burning Scales


Transformed Simplicity


Hidden In Plain Sight


Atmospheric Veil