Ideal School

CIRT Challenge: Envision an Ideal School

2018 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 for details and download the competition packet.


Challenge Brief:

Design solutions to transform, reimagine, or repurpose underutilized common areas in a high school to improve, expand or otherwise enliven its value and use to the student body. Proposals must consider common spaces that accommodate studying or down time, food prep and consumption, and recreational or social space in and outside of the building. Use of materials, building techniques, structural elements and approaches should emphasize sustainability as well as being equipped with the latest smart building and security technologies.

Define and/or describe the problems and challenges you faced when deciding on the design project you chose to do.

Collect Info

Choose a site and gather information about its location, users and functions.

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.

About the Challenge and the Site

The goal of this challenge is to envision what design/construction solutions can be applied to transform, reimagine, or repurpose common areas in a high school to improve, expand, or otherwise enliven its value and use to the student body. You may choose any high school, yet all decisions should be justified.

All of which can be distinct areas and/or in a way in which each can be accomplished without interfering with the other.

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.

Teams must demonstrate or show use of and explain how specific design/construction elements transform underutilized dingy, dark, dirty, unattractive spaces (whether cafeterias, lounges, library, or entrance hall, stage areas) into inviting exciting and useful areas for students to gather. Before and after depictions are highly recommended in order to “connect” the improvement to a specific element.

Teams must include other ancillary improvements that would further enhance your specific decisions, such as entrances, outdoor areas, sporting facilities/spaces, parking, administrative, theatre, etc.

Develop Solutions

Work towards your final design.

Dimensions, size, costs, etc. must be determined by the team, but all decisions should be explained and warranted based on the resources likely to be attracted to such a proposal. A square foot cost estimate must be provided.

Use of materials, building techniques, structural elements and approaches should emphasize sustainability, energy efficiency, and recyclable eco-friendly products as well as being equipped with the latest smart building and security technologies.

Describe any social, ecological or otherwise beneficial qualities of your design solution. For example, is it a universal design? How so? Is it environmentally friendly? How does it use cost-effective or recyclable materials?

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.

Final Design

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 for your final presentation board.

ACE Teams:

All work must be submitted to the competition portal by 5:00pm EST on March 7, 2018 in order to qualify for jury review.