For the Third Year in a Row, Students Place in International Competition

Aug. 23, 2017

For the third year in a row, students from Kevin Stevens’s third-year Architecture studio have placed in an international steel design competition. Cullen Sayegh and Samantha Sowell earned an honorable mention in the 17th Annual Steel Design Student Competition in August.  The competition is administered by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction.

The competition challenges students across the nation and world to explore the varied functional and aesthetic uses of steel in design and construction. Sayegh and Sowell created a design, Rhizome Terminal, for the “Museum” category.

In this category, students were challenged to find ways in which design and imagination create a popular visitor destination and a city focal point, while meeting functional and programmatic requirements of the competition. They had to consider the new structure’s compatibility with the existing urban fabric and prove creative use of structural steel. Together with the integrated resolution of structural, tectonic and technical issues, projects had to be designed in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

The jury, comprised of experts from the design profession, academia and engineering, looked for memorable structures that responded to human needs with structural integrity. Each design had to include galleries, an auditorium, administrative offices, service areas, parking and more for a total square footage of 77,500.

Sayegh and Sowell designed Braddock Terminal near Pittsburgh. Their design reconnected Braddock with its neighboring communities, bringing citizens to the waterfront and downtown.

In their design, the nature of the rhizome is mimicked in a column grid that roots itself into the landscape and curves up into connective branches. The structural integrity of the building lies in this system, which bridges the gap between various transit layers, and brings together city, factory and river.

In all, 213 designs from universities around the world were judged in the category, and only five awards were given.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to see how their work compares on a national scale,” said Stevens. “I’m always impressed that our third-year students are competing on this level this early in their careers.  It really shows the strength of our college as a whole,” he said.

In 2016, Janusz Ziobrowski, Karolina Rachwal and Yiwen Wu received an honorable mention, and in 2015, Kristin Bowman and Emanuel Huber-Feely also placed at the honorable mention level.

Samantha Sowell + Cullen Sayegh’s Award-winning Project