2022 Design Brief


Dynamically adaptive facades:

Balancing occupant comfort with lifecycle carbon performance The Metals in Construction magazine Design Challenge 2022 is an ideas competition involving the design of an innovative curtain wall system for a new, site-specific office building. featuring. The system must be capable of responding dynamically to a wide range of environmental conditions for the well-being of its occupants.


With people spending about 90% of their time indoors, and even more during the past year and a half of the global pandemic, indoor environmental quality (IEQ) is of paramount importance. IEQ is heavily influenced by a building’s façade system, which provides access to view and daylight while controlling glare, solar heat gain, and thermal and acoustical comfort. Indoor air quality is also fundamental to IEQ, and the facade system holds the potential to provide natural ventilation while enhancing the thermal resilience of the building interior.

This year’s competition is based on the idea of a dynamic facade system that integrates critical building systems’ functionality, including lighting, ventilation, thermal, visual and acoustical comfort, and energy management, thereby acting as the central component for holistic building systems integration. The design challenge proposes an exploration of the limits and potentials of a façade system capable of responding dynamically to changing indoor and outdoor conditions over the range of seasonal and temporal climatic conditions while maintaining as close to optimal IEQ as possible. The challenge’s $15,000 Grand Prize will be awarded to the building and facade system design judged most innovative and effective in integrating building systems functionality to achieve optimal, carbon efficient year-round control of the indoor environment.

Your Challenge:

Submit your concept for a site-specific building design featuring an integrative curtain wall system employing adaptive strategies that enable a dynamic response to changing environmental conditions. Enhanced resilience, constructability, low-energy, low-carbon performance, and above all optimal IEQ, must be integral to the solution.

About the site:

Concepts are to be based on the building site at coordinates 40 43’ 21.93” N / 74 00’ 20.85” W in New York City’s lower Manhattan bordered by Canal, Varick, Grand and Sullivan streets. For the purposes of the competition, neither subsurface conditions nor any current activities that occupy the site need be considered in your submission. The site for this ideas competition was chosen for its uniqueness and in no way represents the location of an actual building project.

Submission requirements:

Submissions must meet the following requirements to be considered: Submissions must satisfactorily depict the system of dynamic behavior and control for optimizing access to view, daylight, and natural ventilation while controlling glare, solar heat gain, and thermal and acoustical comfort.

Submissions must satisfactorily represent the strategies for holistic building systems integration by the facade system, providing convincing, carbon-efficient, year-round control of the indoor environment.

The submission must state the percentage of the year that the facade system will provide natural ventilation to the building while assuring an explicit minimum standard IEQ, and describe the strategies and/or processes by which this is achieved.

The challenge requires that the proposed concept results in a curtain wall system constructed of materials that contribute to a low-carbon solution while meeting the above requirements. Material selection, design service life of the building and major assemblies, minimization of material waste during manufacturing and construction processes, and end-of-life planning for the building and major assemblies, will be considered as contributing to this goal.

Proposed solutions must demonstrate an attempt to anticipate and accommodate future conditions resulting from the climatic crisis and accelerating social change.

Finally, all entries must be designed considering the key elements of safety, quality, cost, aesthetics, and constructability in New York City.

Submission process:

The submission 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. Enter additional team names in the “Notes” section of the Project Description Prompts.

Project Description Prompts – 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. Links to any video or animated components may be pasted into Project Description Prompts. Maximum file size is 20MB.

All materials are due by Tuesday, February 15, 2022, 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.