Maggie Daley Park downtown Chicago is an example of an all-ages playscape

CIRT CHALLENGE: Design a Playground or Playscape

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 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?



This challenge seeks to find exciting proposals to transform neglected parts of urban areas/cities into interactive landscapes, encouraging public engagement, community involvement, and sustainable adaptive reuse. It asks teams to provide a design/construction solution, which advocates creativity and promotes outside activity, increasing socialization, and interaction. Teams should site their proposals in an abandoned or forgotten urban site, and develop a new era playground or playscape that creates opportunity for interaction and play for citizens of all ages.

Collect Info

Gather information about the site, users and playground/playscapes.


Gather as much information as possible about your chosen location’s topography, climate and primary audiences. Site selection is critical and must be fully explained. Show a before and after photo.

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.

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 materials, building techniques, structural elements and approaches that emphasize sustainability, energy efficiency, and recyclable eco-friendly products.

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, etc.) will achieve the challenge’s goals.

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