B.Arch. Justin Foo Wins First Place in Steel Design Competition

Seven photos of a metal scale model of a contemporary building
Views of Foo's scale model for the Museum of the 20th Century.
an architectural drawing of a contemporary building design
Exploded axonometric drawing of Foo's design.
Views of Foo's scale model for the Museum of the 20th Century. Exploded axonometric drawing of Foo's design.
August 29, 2017

Justin Foo (B.Arch. '18) has been awarded first place, museum category, in the 2017 Steel Design Student Competition. Foo's proposal, titled Museum of the 20th Century: Programmatic Folds, is for the Museum of the 20th Century in Berlin.

The American Institute of Steel Construction and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ASCA) sponsor the competition, which recognizes nine exceptional projects in two categories (museum and open) that explore a variety of design issues related to the use of steel in design and construction.

The Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron was selected in 2016 to design the €200-million Berlin museum. Foo's student proposal contrasts with their brick, warehouse-inspired design.

"Despite Herzog & de Meuron's relative formal reticence, the projects utilize similar architectural strategies," says Foo. "They include the maintenance of visual axis, the integration of public space inside the museum, techniques of daylighting, and the fold as a mediator between canonical architectures."

According to Foo's proposal for the museum, the design relates to the nearby Mies van der Rohe New National Gallery and has a constructional affinity to Mies' work in steel construction. "The fold acts as a mediator between the harsh Cartesian rationality of Mies and the lyrical tectonism of Hans Scharoun," Foo writes. As a device and operative strategy that incorporates light control, structure, landscape, circulation, roofing, and more, the fold "collects" the surrounding city architecture while the crowning roof structure allows the artwork to be illuminated by soft, northern light, resulting in a unique museum experience.

Foo's project was created for a third-year B.Arch. design studio taught by Andrea Simitch, the Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow and chair of the Department of Architecture. His design and the other winning projects will be on display at the 106th ACSA Annual Meeting, March 15–17 in Denver, Colorado; and the 2018 NASCC: The Steel Conference, April 11–13 in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to the Steel Design Competition prize, Foo was the winner of the KPF Traveling Fellowship for 2017.

By Patti Witten

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