The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum recently announced its Student Architecture and Design Challenge for the design of an element for its new Bezos Learning Center. Through this challenge, teams of architecture and design students and early-career architects will be challenged to design an architectural element for the exterior structure that visualizes and communicates scientific, aviation, astronomy or aerospace concepts in an effective way. It is free to both apply and participate in this challenge.
As a team challenge, all entries must be composed of teams of two or three people. Teams can consist of a mixture of design and/or architecture students, recent graduates, and professionals with experience of five years or less.
Not sure if this challenge is right for you? Take the Museum’s Eligibility Quiz to find out.
HOW TO APPLY – PHASE 1
Interested students and young professionals are encouraged to apply for Phase One of the challenge by April 18, 2023. application consists of:
- TEAM MEMBER INFORMATION: Academic and internship experience for each team member
- ESSAY 1: Understanding that museums and cultural institutions are intended to welcome folks from all walks of life, with all sorts of backgrounds, including those that are local and from across the world, what role does the design and architecture of a museum or cultural institution play in embracing visitors? (up to 500 words)
- ESSAY 2: How have museums or cultural institutions influenced each team member’s motivation to pursue a career in architecture and design? (up to 500 words)
- SAMPLE SUBMISSION: A sample of the team’s work that visually communicates the team’s desired aesthetic. It should illustrate team cohesion and vision and indicate relevance to a museum environment. It should be 2-dimensional, limited to four pages/slides and accessible without specialized software or hardware. Descriptive text can accompany the images, so long as the total submission does not exceed the page/slide total.
CHALLENGE – PHASE 2
Selected teams will then be invited to participate in Phase 2, the final stage of the challenge, a 60-day design sprint that will take place May 16, 2023, to August 9, 2023.
In addition, this phase will include a mentoring component in the form of “Guides” — two accessible, knowledgeable individuals that will provide finalist teams with an orientation to the challenge and ongoing support throughout via constructive feedback, objective encouragement, and more.
The Museum will assemble a panel of jurors to select the winning team based on several criteria including:
- Concept: At a minimum, submitted designs must embody an exciting new mission for the BLC, honor the space race era, and respect the more classical facades of neighboring museums.
- Content: Tying museum content to the architecture – designs must depict or represent the age of the universe, solar system, or similar concept.
- Welcome: The design must welcome learners into a space that is energizing and activating.
- Communicate: The design must communicate the space as a nexus where creativity and innovation take place.
- Community – The design must possess a sense of place within the Washington, DC community.
Each member of the winning team will receive a one-to-three-year paid position with the National Air and Space Museum and will serve as members on the Bezos Learning Center building project team.
For more information about the challenge, including general rules and requirements, visit the museum’s website.
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