Highly Congested Chicago Street

CIRT CHALLENGE: Alleviate Urban Transportation Congestion

2019 National CIRT Design & Construction Competition Challenge

This challenge is open to the DiscoverDesign community. Yet, to be eligible to compete applicants must be a participating ACE Mentor Program student and enter with a team of three or more students and ACE Affiliate(s). See CIRTcompetition.org for details and download the competition packet.


Define the problem you are solving for by writing a success statement. What is the key problem, who are you solving for and what solutions are you proposing?



Design solutions for alleviating transportation congestion in urban settings. Moving large numbers of people in relatively small or restricted urban areas is an all too commonplace problem in modern societies. The challenge involves identifying the various assets or means of transportation, their relative importance, limitations, and potential to alleviate the congestion. Once identified, propose a single element to be addressed with a cohesive design and construction solution that has the greatest potential to alleviate the problems.

Collect Info

Gather information about the site, users and urban transportation options.


Gather as much information as possible about your chosen location’s topography, climate and primary audiences. Upload images, notes, sketches, land use maps and other helpful resources that show your thinking. You can leave notes for your team in the comment section.


The team must prioritize or select what aspect or asset among the many transportation elements to either enhance, change, replace, or augment, as well as how it will be integrated to impact other elements.

For example:

  • replace a bridge or put a new one in to vastly improve flow of vehicle traffic
  • propose high-occupancy toll lanes
  • enhance or install a mass transit system
  • improve intermodal points to improve flow
  • or any other number of possibilities.

Brainstorm Ideas

Document your ideas throughout the process.


As ideas come together, upload sketches, floor plans, bubble diagrams, aerial maps, material studies or prototype models of your initial ideas.

Brainstorm what materials, building techniques, structural elements and approaches you will use. They should emphasize sustainability, energy efficiency, and recyclable eco-friendly products.

Teams should be creative and inventive. Whatever they decide, it must be supported as the “best” or highest priority to address the problem.

Develop Solutions

Work towards your final design.


Take your preliminary ideas and form multiple small-scale design solutions. Create digital or physical models that help articulate your more developed ideas. Discuss them as a team and make final decisions.

Demonstrate specifically how using construction elements (including work flow/time lines, and traffic routing, etc.) will achieve the challenge’s goals. Decisions must be fully explained and show before/after.

Explain the dimensions, size, costs, materials, etc. determined by the team. All decisions should be explained and warranted based on the real world resources likely to be used for such a proposal. Provide a square foot cost estimate.

Final Design

Describe your design process, approach and impact.


Thoroughly describe your design process, in writing and through visuals (e.g., sketches, renderings, stepped process, before and after, budgets, timelines, etc.) that meet the precise or exact nature of the challenge and/or the client goals/needs.

Think About:

Explain how your design approach is an appropriate, innovative solution that realistically responds to the precise design competition problem.

Explain how your design is different from other approaches or processes, if such is the case. How does your design address budgetary constraints, timeline issues or other challenges? Describe and/or demonstrate what you learned from this design competition.

The following design and construction aspects will be jury evaluation criteria, and should be explained where appropriate:

  • site selection and its context (built and/or natural)
  • constructability (structural challenges, materials, textures, colors, etc.)
  • strategy for sustainability
  • surrounding landscape/external spaces
  • life and activities, in and around the building, including the qualities of enclosed spaces showing furniture, fittings and finishes

Upload your final images, text and renderings.

ACE Teams

All work must be submitted to the competition portal by 12:00am(midnight) CST on March 14, 2019 in order to qualify for jury review.

Submit on Slideroom