ACMA Announces Winners of Architecture Design Challenge

26 June 2018

ACMA Announces Winners of Architecture Design Challenge

The American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) has unveiled the winners of this year’s Composites Design Challenge, a design competition that encourages college architecture students to find innovative ways to integrate composite constructions into architectural production.

ACMA asked approximately 150 architectural students from 23 different schools to work in teams to consider the development of a composite architectural/building component or assembly.

This year, a team of students from Cornell University won first place for its Tubular Knitting design, a lightweight, spatial and structural tube that can serve as an alternative for a column. The system can be customised, flatpacked and easily assembled onsite. To create the design, students Jingjing Liu, William Qian, Xiaohang 'Gloria' Yan, Jingxin Yang and Yuheng 'Amber' Zhu used automation to knit fibreglass patterns, which were applied to a series of inflated balloons. After applying resin to the fibreglass, the balloons were deflated, leaving a cured structure with optimal porosity.

“Cornell’s Tubular Knitting entry both literally and figuratively stretched the limits of what’s possible with composites in architectural design,” says Tom Dobbins, ACMA President and CEO. “The future of architecture is headed toward increased flexibility and lighter weight, and this design epitomises the type of innovation that will change the industry.”

Second place went to a team of students from Ohio State University for its A Tough Tuft design. Students Chris Block, Jon Decipeda and Rachel Ghindea were inspired by the work of American designer Andrew Kudless, who is known for creating structural walls out of plaster, a hard and heavy material, but makes them appear to be soft and bulbous. Instead of using plaster, the students used the buoyant properties of polyurethane composite foam to create a similar effect.

Third place was awarded to students Karolina Piorko, Veronika Varga and Song Ren from Cornell, who created a lightweight fibreglass dome entitled Don’t Leave Me Hangin', which uses gravity as a form finding generator. The design explored the properties of catenary structures commonly seen in plants or spiderwebs. To maximise the efficiency and strength of the composite materials, the students created hanging connections of braided fibreglass without a traditional compression element.

The winning designs were featured in the Composites Pavilion at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) show in New York City.

“Between ACMA’s design challenge and diverse range of companies, the composites industry has established one of the most robust perennial presences at AIA,” says Megan Multanen, Senior Sales Officer at Bestbath and Chair of the ACMA Architectural Division. “Composites are already playing a big role in both large-scale and small-scale projects in both exterior and interior applications, and we’re excited to share our story at the show.”

For more information about composites in architectural applications, visit

Photo provided by ACMA

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