The 2024 Forge Prize

Congratulations to the 2024 Forge Prize-winning team behind the Mile Zero concept!

Mile Zero is a collaboration between Emily Baker, Vincent Edwards, and Edmund Harriss of the University of Arkansas; Princeton University’s Isabel Moreira de Oliveira; West Virginia University’s Eduardo Sosa; and Fayetteville, Ark.-based artist Reilly Dickens-Hoffman--they’ll share the $10,000 grand prize.

Mile Zero is a stunning steel shade structure intended for the trailhead of the Razorback Greenway in Northwest Arkansas. the design team partnered with Hillsdale Fabricators Chief Structural Engineer Tony Diebold, PE, to further develop their idea.

The final presentations from the 2024 Forge Prize finalists were streamed live on YouTube on March 5 and are available for viewing on AISC's YouTube channel.

The Mile Zero design team will reprise and expand on their presentation as part of the Architecture in Steel specialty conference at NASCC: The Steel Conference in San Antonio, March 20 at 10:15 a.m.

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2024 Forge Prize Winner: Mile Zero

Credit for all images: credit Emily Baker, Isabel de Oliveira, and Caleb Rothell

The Mile Zero concept uses an innovative Spin-Valence space frame system to cut, pull, and fasten uncoated weathering steel sheets into a modular system with structural depth. 

Emily Baker developed the Spin-Valence system when she was in graduate school. It’s based on the Japanese art of kirigami, which uses folding and cutting to create 3D objects out of a flat material. See a video of the Spin-Valence system’s deployment below.

Baker and her collaborators intend to bring the design to fruition to replace the simple bollard that currently marks the beginning of a multi-use trail that spans more than 40 miles. They envision the structure, with its interplay of light and shadow, as a welcoming space for people to enjoy the outdoors together--or perhaps as a backdrop for a group photo to commemorate a long bike ride on the Greenway.

In the second phase of the Forge Prize competition, the design team partnered with Hillsdale Fabricators Chief Structural Engineer Tony Diebold, PE, to further develop their idea. “Once [Baker] described the whole Spin-Valence concept to me, I thought it was pretty innovative and seems like it could be a really interesting structural piece--but also architectural,” Diebold said, noting that the design also presented a different challenge than he’s used to. “Being an engineer, I like straight lines, and everything was cattywampus!”

Baker was able to visit Diebold at Hillsdale’s shop in St. Louis as part of the process, further developing a relationship that all involved hope will lead to the structure taking shape in the real world. “We intend to continue to support Emily and Isabel’s design development as it becomes a real project,” Diebold said, adding that Hillsdale can make particularly valuable contributions to budgeting and constructability. 

“Arkansas is going to be the big winner in the long-term,” said Forge Prize Judge Reed Kroloff, Rowe Family College of Architecture Endowed Chair and dean of the Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture. “We thought the shade structure was remarkably innovative in the way that it took steel and used it in such an interesting fashion, with the folding and stacking. [The jury] thought it had great promise for steel as a building material.”

The Mile Zero concept was one of three visionary designs that made it to the final round of the 2024 Forge Prize, in which the designers presented their refined concepts to the jury in a YouTube livestream that is now available as a recording

Spin-Valence deployment.mp4
Watch this video to see the deployment of the Spin-Valence system!

2024 Forge Prize Finalists: Runners-Up

Community Art Center

Image credit: Chen Xia

MUSUMANOCO’s Chen Xia imagined a dynamic community art center for Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood. 

The concept of a public building that is connected and open to the neighborhood takes form as glass boxes in the air. A tectonic joinery assembly detail takes advantage of steel’s properties to create a grid structural system for efficient construction.

Juan Jose Castellon of Rice University submitted an installation created in collaboration with Rice’s School of Architecture, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Shepherd School of Music, with the support of the Carbon Hub Initiative.

The modular system uses a system of steel tubes and hollow ceramic pieces to provide cooling shade while capturing rainwater for irrigation on urban rooftops and public areas. 

Building Ecologies

Credit: Juan José Castellón (image by: Elliot Yamamoto)

Congratulations to the 2024 Forge Prize winners and runners-up!

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