Winners Announced in Competition to Improve Indoor Environmental Quality

Metals in Construction magazine has announced the winners of its 2022 Design Challenge competition, which asked architects and engineers to generate ideas for an innovative curtain wall enclosure that could act dynamically in response to a wide range of environmental conditions while considering the well-being of building occupants. 

The competition was speculative, but its design brief was based on the idea that indoor environmental quality (IEQ), whose importance has been underscored during the pandemic, is crucial to occupant health and productivity. IEQ is heavily influenced by a building’s façade system, which provides access to view and daylight while controlling glare, solar heat gain, and thermal and acoustical comfort. Indoor air quality is also fundamental to IEQ, and the facade system holds the potential to provide natural ventilation while enhancing the thermal resilience of the building interior.

“The magazine’s 2022 Challenge responded to a need for more versatile enclosure design,” said Gary Higbee, AIA, Director of Industry Development for the Ornamental Metal Institute of New York, co-publisher of the magazine and sponsor of this year’s competition. “Covid-19 had building owners quickly adopting design and technology strategies to combat airborne transmission of the virus. These strategies focused on improving indoor environmental quality within the limitations of the existing building enclosure. Challenge participants were asked to envision an adaptive, dynamic curtain wall system better able to regulate the ever-changing conditions of life indoors. The solutions proposed, although imperfect, showed a timely enthusiasm for tackling this well-building problem.”

A four-person jury including Berardo Matalucci of SHoP, Holger Schulze-Ehring of Büro Ehring, Jessica Young of Heintges, and Mic Patterson of the Facade Tectonics Institute, evaluated the entries on how well the designs integrated enhanced resilience, constructability, low-energy, low-carbon performance, and optimal IEQ into their solutions. Building designs were required to feature an integrative curtain wall system employing adaptive strategies that enable a dynamic response to changing environmental conditions. Concepts were based on a building site bordered by Canal, Varick, Grand and Sullivan streets in Lower Manhattan. 

This year the jury selected two entries to share the grand prize, a departure from years past that the jurors attributed to the difficulty and evolving nature of the topic at hand. The winning entries, titled Grow and Evocon (scroll down for full information), were selected not because they met every design criteria but because they prompted future-looking questions and discussion among the jury.

In his remarks about Grow, Schulze-Ehring said, “The design itself promotes responsiveness by maximizing sun and daylight hours and also improving the microclimate itself by cleaning the air and providing natural cooling.” A team of five architects submitted the concept, which focuses on the idea of a net-zero design and reduction of the carbon footprint through the use of recycled materials for prefabricated structural and facade elements. The facade is centered on occupants’ well-being, and allows them to respond to seasonal and future tenant changes through operable components, a vertical garden, and adaptive glazing that reacts to the amount of available daylight. Citing the Grow submission for responding to several important aspects of building and facade design, the jury was particularly interested in the data cloud and central management system proposed to allow the intelligent facade to learn from how inhabitants interact with it, for example when they open a window.

The Evocon facade, the jury noted, had a very different response to the design challenge and presented other exciting points for discussion by taking into account historic climatic and environmental changes and factors to anticipate how to address currently unknown conditions in the future. “The project also recognized the changes that Covid has forced on our work environment and envisions that change and adaptation and our buildings and spaces we use for work and living will continue to be required,” said Young in her remarks.

The project proposes a system of layers to allow for reconfiguration and adaptation based on the expected lifespan of material components and on responses to immediate and gradual changes in the surrounding environment. The submitting design team, from Priedemann Facade Experts, also included a catalog of functional plug-and-play modules that address the performance of the facade in response to user needs and indoor environmental quality. “The removable and remountable strategy also addresses the potential to expand the lifespan of a building facade,” noted Young.

The jury presented the winning designs and their remarks in a webinar that may be viewed on-demand via Architectural Record’s Continuing Education portal. Each winning team will receive half of the 2022 competition’s $15,000 grand prize. For more information about the annual competition, visit



Developed by Alvaro Arranz, AIA, RIBA, NCARB, LEED AP; Vicky Chan, AIA, LEED AP, BEAM PRO; Subhiksha Bhoovarahan; Andy Cheng; Crystal Hu, BEAM PRO





Developed by Priedemann Facade Experts: Puttakhun Vongsingha, Natchai Suwannapruk, Avinash Nair, Jens Böke, Paul-Rouven Denz and Lars Anders