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Transformation 2030: A Student Design Challenge


Please visit the Transformation 2030 message board to view and submit questions for the competition by clicking here.


Preparing architects and engineers for a new era of performance-based design.


Paid internship with Perkins Eastman

+ $10,000 in Cash Prizes

Learn more >


Click here to Submit  >

  • Feb 1, 2014 – Registration deadline
  • April 20, 2014 – Submission deadline
  • May 9, 2014 – Winners announced

Downloads  >

This design competition seeks to help students learn the skills they need to transform industry practices and follow a design process that rigorously integrates energy efficiency and sustainability. By designing on an urban infill site, it also seeks to use design as a tool to positively transform communities and society at large.

Presented by the AIAS and Autodesk, in partnership with Architecture 2030, Majora Carter Group, and Perkins Eastman.


Energy and Environment Background

In May of 2013, the carbon in the earth’s atmosphere crossed the symbolic threshold of 400ppm. According to the scientific community, climate change is happening and its effects will be very problematic for our society and environment. We are already seeing the effects in the form of increasingly violent storms, rising sea levels, record setting temperatures, and rapidly diminishing biodiversity. We may soon reach a “Point of No Return” with dangerous and unpredictable consequences for the environment[1].

As members of the design and construction community, we have a responsibility to help reduce emissions from the building sector, which presently represents about 45% of US CO2 emissions (see Architecture 2030). New regulations and industry initiatives in the last 10-15 years, such as USGBC’s LEED program and the Architecture 2030 Challenge, are helping to drive industry transformation, but many feel that it is not happening fast enough. An often-quoted target is that 100% of all new buildings be net-zero by 2030 (Obama’s Executive Order 13514). In order to achieve these ambitious goals, it is critical that designers and engineers understand principles of energy efficient design and the workflows necessary to test the efficacy of their proposals[2].

In light of these pressing issues, Autodesk’s Building Performance Analysis (BPA) Certificate program and Architecture 2030’s 2030 Palette are both designed to help architects and engineers design high performance buildings that use less energy, emit less carbon, and are more comfortable to inhabit. Software tools, such as Autodesk’s Vasari, Revit, and Green Building Studio allow users to analyze dynamic energy interactions within a building and iteratively test different options quickly to quantify a building’s predicted energy use profile. When these tools are used in conjunction with sound building science principles, it is possible to drastically reduce energy costs and emissions, and meet the 2030 Challenge.


Design Challenge

High performance design for people, neighborhoods, and the planet in the South Bronx.

The site is located in the South Bronx of New York City (top). It is the site of the former Spofford Juvenile Detention Center (bottom).

The site to be used in the Transformation 2030 Design Competition is the former site of the infamous Spofford Juvenile Center (later known as Bridges Juvenile Center), located in the northwest region of the Hunts Point neighborhood in New York City’s South Bronx. Notoriously known as one of the most brutal juvenile detention facilities on the east coast of the United States, the Spofford Juvenile Center was finally closed in 2011 and the buildings remain vacant.

Hunts Point is a neighborhood that, while once prosperous, has faced significant plight in its recent history. At present, unemployment rates exceed 23% and more than half the population lives below the poverty line[3]. The current condition of Hunts Point can be partly attributed to its treatment as what urban development strategist Majora Carter calls, “an environmental and economic sacrifice zone” where significant portions of the city have been consumed by industry with overwhelming disregard for the community and the environment.

A prime example of this, Hunts Point is home to one of the largest food distribution centers in the world, yet local communities have virtually no access to the massive quantities of fresh produce and other foods that flow through the neighborhood on a daily basis.

In response to these conditions, this competition calls on architects and engineers to design an event space and commercial kitchen that can be used as community resources to create economic opportunities, build community, and create an environment conducive to healthy living. These spaces should be designed as part of an overall development plan for the site. The history and present conditions of Hunts Point should be considered in order to envision a transformational design solution that is also socio-economically responsible.

Global architecture firm Perkins + Will did an initial analysis of the site with the Majora Carter Group. They recognized that the site is in a strategic location for the neighborhood – in between subway transit and the Bronx waterfront, and also in between residential and industrial areas. They and the Majora Carter group recommended a mixed use residential development, with a live/work space and community services. This design competition has been created with their partnership and insights. See below for a note on how this competition ties to real-world development at the site.


Competition Objectives

Entrants to this competition will use building performance analysis and sustainable design strategies from the 2030 Palette and the Autodesk Building Program Analysis Certificate to design high performance buildings that respond effectively to the conditions of the site and needs of Hunts Point.

While there are many issues involved in this development, the major focus of this competition is building performance analysis. Participants should rigorously familiarize themselves with the 2030 Palette and must complete the Autodesk Building Performance Analysis Certificate. As outlined in the submission requirements, a detailed presentation of each entrant’s design strategies and building performance analysis must play a prominent role in any submission.

This competition also strives to engage designers on the social and cultural context for the development. A priority for the area is economic development that will help build, and keep, wealth in the neighborhood. Currently residents who do become successful want to leave. The Majora Carter Group’s goal is to make this development a destination that the neighborhood’s residents can be proud of. Instead of simply providing services for poverty, they seek to drive systemic change to improve education, economy, and community.

Entries must:

  • Examine Hunts Point’s history and present conditions in order to form a positively transformational and socio-economically responsible design solution.
  • Employ sustainable design strategies from the 2030 Palette and the Autodesk Building Performance Analysis Certificate. Meet goals of occupant comfort (thermal and visual comfort), while minimizing energy use and environmental impacts.
  • Utilize Autodesk’s building performance analysis tools with a strong emphasis on whole building energy analysis.


Real-world development

This competition brief has been prepared with the collaboration of Majora Carter Group, LLC (MCG), which works to revitalize urban areas. The design challenge presented here is based on their input and direction, and grounded in their research and knowledge of what’s appropriate for the neighborhood.

A primary goal of Majora Carter Group is to get fresh ideas and generate tangible visions for what this site could look like with development and investment. Its location makes it vitally important to the development of the entire neighborhood.

The site is currently owned by the city of New York and operated by its Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD). It is expected that they will release a Request For Proposal (RFP) to develop the site in the near future for proposals for development. While it is usually more efficient and sustainable to retrofit existing buildings, the existing buildings on the site are likely to be demolished due to environmental remediation and because their design limits their re-use potential.  

Majora Carter Group and other developers have begun the process of marketing, fundraising, and identifying development partners to respond to New York City’s RFP. Qualifying submissions to this design competition may have the opportunity to be included in proposals and campaigns to support environmentally and economically sustainable ideas for this Hunts Point site.

It is likely that development of the site will be phased. The south east corner area of the site that is the focus of this competition might be the first phase of the larger development.

For more information about the site and building program, see the Transformation2030_SiteInfoPacket PDF


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