Frequently Asked Questions

Metals in Construction magazine 2017 Design Challenge

Q: Who is the Steel Institute of New York and why are they sponsoring this contest?
A: The Steel Institute of New York is a not-for-profit association created in 1972 to advance the interests of the steel construction industry. In this regard, the Institute sponsors programs to aid developers, architects, engineers, and construction managers in using structural steel for buildings and structures. The geographical area served by the Institute encompasses the City of New York and the adjacent counties of Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester. The Institute also publishes Metals in Construction magazine to showcase its members’ most noteworthy projects.


Q: Who is eligible?
A: The Metals in Construction magazine 2017 Design Challenge (the Challenge) is open to any individual or team of architects, engineers and/or designers at the professional and/or student level. Collaboration between disciplines and/or levels is permitted and encouraged.

Q: I do not live in the United States, am I eligible to enter this competition?
A: Yes, international submissions are welcome.

Proposal Development

Q: What type of proposals are you looking for?
A: Submissions should be original and at the conceptual stage of development. Your idea should be buildable and must address the performance of the hybrid frame-and-skin system with both illustrations and data. They must first demonstrate the hybrid system’s functionality in moisture protection, thermal performance, sound attenuation, fire safety, and limiting drift. Second, they must calculate the reduction in CO2 emissions resulting from the use of a hybrid system instead of an aluminum-and-glass curtain wall. We are looking for innovative design solutions addressing the need to minimize embodied energy in the built environment.

Q: I am not sure if my proposal qualifies. How can I find out?
A: In general, if your proposal includes the qualities above and in the Specific Design Guidelines in the Design Brief, it may be entered.

Q: The Design Brief says “eliminating the standard curtain wall is the required scope of this challenge.” What do you consider a “standard curtain wall”?
A: A standard curtain wall accounts for an average of 10 to 15 pounds-per-square-foot on the facade, all of it dead weight.

See more information on the concepts discussed in the Design Brief in Structural Skin: Integrating Structure and Cladding” by John Neary, Sr. Associate, HOK New York. 

Registration and Submission

Q: What information will I need to register and submit my proposal?
A: The Registration form will require contact info for you and your collaborators (Entrant Information), an explanation of the project in answers to short essay questions (Project Description), and supporting images uploaded as a PDF (Proposal Visualization).

Q: How do I register and submit my project?
A: Visit the Registration page of and complete all three sections, including uploading your Proposal Visualization PDF, before submitting the Registration form. The submission process is entirely electronic. Email with any questions. Your submission may be modified as much as you like before the final deadline of February 1, 2017.

Q: How can I demonstrate my approach to the envelope design by conducting standard analyses, as outlined in the Design Brief’s Submission Requirements?
A: In addition to conceptual visualizations, participants must communicate the functionality of their approach to a hybrid envelope design by conducting standard analyses of both energy and structural performance. The energy analysis should include calculations on thermal and solar performance as required by NYC ECC 2016 as well as embodied energy per guidelines in LEED v4. The analysis for structural performance must include design criteria per local code (NYC BC 2014) requirements, narrative on scheme, and preliminary calculations including worst-case load cases, which can be assumed to be dead, live, wind load in equation 16-3 1.2D+1.6Lr+0.8W (ignoring snow, earthquake, and other combinations). [Note: this content was updated November 1, 2016. Please use the most recent version of this information.]

Q: Is an embodied carbon analysis strictly required?
A: Yes, all entries must communicate and validate their estimates of embodied carbon reduction based on these Typical Embodied Energy Coefficients for Building Materials released by Hammond & Jones and CTBUH. (While factoring in New York City conditions would alter these values somewhat, they serve the purpose of providing a standard basis of evaluating entries for both participants and jurors.)

Q: We want to propose a façade system design that could be implemented in an existing building in lieu of a new building. Is this solution allowed within the Design Brief?
A: Yes. This proposal would be acceptable as long as the building in question has a primary frame of structural steel as specified in the Design Brief. And, of course, all other Design Brief criteria must be met as well, including identifying how the existing building’s stiffening with the frame affects seismic and wind response.

Your team must also calculate the embodied energy of the building that is being modified (original building as well as new construction) in order to allow judges to compare this entry with entries containing designs for new buildings. The energy saved in implementing this approach will be weighed at the discretion of the jury along with other Design Brief criteria.

Q: Does our team have to identify a specific site address?
A: While it is anticipated that most entries will name a specific site, it is not necessary to identify a site address as long as the information given is sufficient to identify the site as satisfying the design parameters, i.e. that it is situated in the Five Boroughs and has proximity to public transportation, green space, and shopping. The information given must also be sufficient to justify the choice of location for the project.

Q: Should my entry be anonymous?
A: Yes, entries must be completely anonymous. For the judging to be impartial the Proposal Summary and Proposal Visualization PDF should not include individual or company names, images, CV/resume, or any personal information that could identify the individual or team. The entrant information is removed from your Registration form and only looked at after the judges have decided on the winner and any runners-up.

Q: What if I am a member of one of the jury member’s firms?
A: The submission will qualify as long as the entry complies with the rules of anonymity listed above and the jury member is in no way involved in the creation or submission of the entry.

Q: How many images can I submit and how big should they be?
A: Your Proposal Visualization should include up to ten (10) images in a multi-page PDF to specifically support your proposal, such as diagrams or renderings. The PDF will be considered on-screen by the judges and should be formatted at 11”x17” (ledger/A3) size. Maximum allowable file size is 20MB. If you win or are selected as a runner-up you will need to provide high-resolution, publication quality images to competition staff.

Q: There is only space to add my name in the registration field. Where can I add my teammates’ names?
A: Please add your team members’ names under the “Additional Notes” section of the page where you answer the Project Description prompts. This portion will not be reviewed by the jury and so will maintain the team’s anonymity.

Q: When is the competition deadline?
A: All materials are due by February 1, 2017, 11:59 p.m. Once you register via this site, you may log in and edit your competition entry as many times as you like until the deadline.


Q: What are the judging criteria?
A: The jury will be looking for evidence of serious consideration of the Design Brief, especially the Specific Design Guidelines section. In addition, they will keep in mind the elements of all innovative design in the 21st century: systems thinking, sustainable methods and materials, excellence of aesthetic expression, technological innovation; and the economic potential of your idea. Building enclosure system descriptions and their ability to achieve the desired lifestyle and sustainability goals are also influential to the judging outcome.

Q: When will you announce the winner, and how will the winner be notified?
A: The winner(s) and runners-up will be notified on February 24, 2017. They will be announced publicly in February 2017.

Q: Are there any consolation prizes?
A: Only the winner(s) will receive a prize up to $15,000. Any runners up will not receive a monetary prize. They will be acknowledged with publicity through the Institute’s print and/or digital media channels.

Q: Will any portion of my entry be made public?
A: Yes, the names, ideas, and images of the winner, runners up, and sometimes other projects of interest will be published in Metals in Construction, and, and/or exhibited. By entering the competition, you are agreeing that the Institute can publish your materials. You will always be credited.

Q: The Official Rules state that the Institute will have full rights to publish the work as they see fit without any prior approval from the designer. Does this mean they assume the right of ownership to the submitted design or product idea?
A: No, it does not mean that the Institute assumes the right of ownership to the idea. It means that you are granting us physical and electronic rights to the images and information submitted. We have the right to publish them freely without notifying you or further obtaining your permission.

Q: My question was not addressed in the FAQ, whom can I contact?
A: Email to address any unanswered questions.