Modeled after the quirky competitive TV cooking show “Iron Chef,” the annual Iron Designer Challenge, which took place earlier in June, throws together AEC professionals and high school students to foster mentoring relationships and raise funds for the Urban Assembly School of Design and Construction (SDC). The New York City public high school provides classes in design, construction, architecture and engineering to prepare students for college and beyond. In the competition teams have three hours to design and build a structure out of a predetermined palette of materials in front of an audience. This year’s theme, “Design from the Future,” asked participants to create a structure/object that might originate 100 years from now.
Thornton Toamsetti Senior Designer Neda Ainehchi captained an all-star team consisting of Engineer Carlotta Malavolti, Computational Designer Ashley Reed, Spencer Lapp (of design studio SLAPP) and SDC students Crystal Daniel, Victoria Augustyn, Skylynn Laluz and Ugyen Sangmo. With future limited water supplies in mind, the Thornton Tomasetti team envisioned SWEAT, a SeaWater Evaporative Abstergent Tower. SWEAT can produce drinkable water through the condensation of non-potable water, improving water accessibility in the future, or even today.
Judges from SHoP Construction, The Architect’s Newspaper and Tri-Lox Workshop evaluated the stiff competition from all the other teams, consisting of professionals from Cerami & Associates, Ennead Architects, Gensler, OMNI Architects, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Robert Silman Associates, Sam Schwartz, Schneider Electric, SOM and Turner. And after three hours of intense collaboration and on-the-fly problem solving, the Thornton Tomasetti team was declared winner of the coveted Iron Designer Champion title.