Architecture students from six local universities got a firsthand look at how creative design solutions can improve their community during the National Building Museum’s 2017 Interschool Design Competition. Armed with essential drafting tools, each team had just seven hours to conceptualize and design a new auditorium venue for the Museum.

The annual competition, which took place in the Museum’s iconic Great Hall on September 17, aims to enrich and expand upon the skills students are learning in the classroom—while raising awareness about the realities of practice. Similar to how a licensed architect would approach a project, students were asked to collaborate with peers, consider existing structure, and incorporate accessible design.

Nearly 50 students from the following schools participated in this year’s competition: The Catholic University of America, Howard University, Morgan State University, The University of Maryland, University of the District of Columbia, and Virginia Tech.

The design solutions were evaluated by a jury of architects and educators for overall design excellence, as well as innovation, impact, and relevance. On September 19, the winning project, titled "Emergence," was announced during an award ceremony, in advance of the museum’s Spotlight on Design lecture with SmithGroupJJR.

"One of the goals of the National Building Museum is to educate the public about the design process," said Chase W. Rynd, executive director of the National Building Museum. "We love being able to give our visitors a real-world glimpse into the different ways that architects and designers approach a project, and how beautiful buildings and landscapes begin with an idea."

The 2017 competition was generously supported by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), a nonprofit that develops the national programs for architectural licensure. Participants can use this experience to earn credit toward NCARB’s Architectural Experience Program (AXP), which is a key step on the path to earning a license.

"NCARB is honored to support an initiative that prepares the next generation of architects for real-world practice," said NCARB CEO Michael Armstrong. "The competition not only helps bridge the gap between education and practice, it also raises awareness of the architect’s role and empowers students to think differently about their future profession."

For the past two decades, the Museum has also collaborated with the three Washington-area chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) to organize the event, including AIA DC, AIA Northern Virginia, and AIA Potomac Valley.

A video about the competition is available here.