December 10, 2015

Contact: Brenda Flood

Cal Poly Architecture Students Sweep Top Awards in National Steel Design Competition

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly architecture students won top prizes and split $5,000 in a national contest to create novel designs in structural steel buildings.

The American Institute of Steel Construction, in conjunction with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, sponsored the 2014-15 Steel Design Student Competition that attracted 500 entries from architectural colleges and universities across the U.S. The contest challenged students — working individually or in teams — to explore a variety of design issues related to the use of steel in design and construction.

Fifth-year Cal Poly architecture students Natacha Schnider and Stephen “Chip” Hubert were first in Category I-Library with their entry, Rebound. Entrants were asked to envision a library as an open-source exchange for all forms of information and entertainment, serving a diverse public, and playing a critical role as a cultural agent in the community.

Schnider and Hubert’s project, proposed for New Orleans, seeks to enliven people by reinterpreting the common vision of the library while emphasizing digital technology to connect the public as part of a larger civic body of shared knowledge. It would include an automated storage and retrieval system with a triple-height lobby that accommodates an auditorium and trolley station.

In the Open category, which challenged students to select a site and building program using steel as the primary material, fourth-year architecture student Caroline Angell took first for her entry, Murshidibad Women’s Resource Center.

Angell proposed locating the center in Jangipur, a city of 122,000 in the state of West Bengal, India. Her project hones in on the class status of women in India to provide an open resource for them to improve their communities and empower themselves.

Jurors at the 15th annual competition recognized the three top finishers in each category as well as 10 overall honorable mentions. About $14,000 in prize money was offered; the top prize of $2,500 went to each Cal Poly entry, and $1,000 each went to the students’ faculty sponsors.

Cal Poly faculty members Margarida Yin, architecture, and James Guthrie, architectural engineering, served as sponsors to the students.

“Through excellent site choice and design concept, the Rebound project is well-integrated into both its context and surrounding,” Yin said.

She described the Murshidibad Women’s Resource Center project design as “elegant and clear, proven by the student’s research on humanitarian and social issues in India.”

The projects will be displayed March 17-19 at the 104th ACSA annual Meeting in Seattle and May 19-21 at the AIA National Convention in Philadelphia, Penn.

To view “Rebound,” visit:

To view “Murshidibad Women's Resource Center,” visit:

Sponsor: American Institute of Steel Construction

Based in Chicago, the American Institute of Steel Construction is a nonprofit technical institute and trade association established in 1921 to serve the structural steel design community and construction industry in the United States. AISC’s mission is to make structural steel the material of choice by being the leader in structural-steel-related technical and market-building activities.

Administrative Organization: The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture is a nonprofit, membership association founded in 1912 to advance the quality of architectural education. The school membership in ACSA has grown from 10 charter members to more than 250 schools in several membership categories.

About ASCA/AISC Steel Design Competition

The 15th annual Steel Design Student Competition for the 2014-2015 academic year challenged students, working individually or in teams, to explore a myriad of design issues and factors related to the use of steel in design and construction. The competition offered two different categories, LIBRARY and OPEN.


To learn more about the ASCA/AISC Steel Design Student Competition, visit


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