ACMA Announces Winners of Third Annual COMPOSITES CHALLENGE for College Architecture Students

June 19, 2018 (Arlington, Va.) – The American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) is excited to announce the winners of this …

June 19, 2018 (Arlington, Va.) – The American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) is excited to announce the winners of this year’s COMPOSITES DESIGN CHALLENGE – an exciting design competition that encourages college architecture students to find innovative ways to integrate composite constructions into architectural production. ACMA asked approximately 150 architectural students from 23 different schools to work in teams to consider the development of a composite architectural/building component or assembly.

This year, a team of students from Cornell University won first place for its “Tubular Knitting” design – a lightweight, spatial and structural tube that can serve as an alternative for a column. The system can be customized, flatpacked and easily assembled onsite. To create the unique design, students Jingjing Liu, William Qian, Xiaohang “Gloria” Yan, Jingxin Yang and Yuheng “Amber” Zhu used automation to knit a fiberglass patterns, which were applied to a series of inflated balloons. After applying resin to the fiberglass, the balloons were deflated, leaving a cured structure with optimal porosity.

“Cornell’s Tubular Knitting entry both literally and figuratively stretched the limits of what’s possible with composites in architectural design,” said Tom Dobbins, ACMA President & CEO. “The future of architecture is headed toward increased flexibility and lighter weight, and this design epitomizes the type of innovation that will change the industry.”

Second place went to a team of students from The Ohio State University for its “A Tough Tuft” design. Students Chris Block, Jon Decipeda and Rachel Ghindea were inspired by the work of American designer Andrew Kudless, who is known for creating structural walls out of plaster, a hard and heavy material, but makes them appear to be soft and bulbous. Instead of using plaster, the students used the buoyant properties of polyurethane composite foam to create a similar effect.

Third place was awarded to students Karolina Piorko, Veronika Varga and Song Ren from Cornell, who created a lightweight fiberglass dome, entitled “Don’t Leave Me Hangin,’” which uses gravity as a form finding generator. The design explored the properties of catenary structures commonly seen in plants or spiderwebs. To maximize the efficiency and strength of the composite materials, the students created hanging connections of braided fiberglass without a traditional compression element.

The winning designs will be featured in the Composites Pavilion at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) show in New York City from June 21-22, 2018. The winners will be honored during a special ceremony, Thursday, June 21 at 1:30 PM EST at the Composites Design Challenge booth (#4516).

Throughout the show, ACMA and its members will be on hand at a new “Discover Composites” booth (#4411) to help architects at the show understand the possibilities of composites.

“Between ACMA’s design challenge and diverse range of companies, the composites industry has established one of the most robust perennial presences at AIA,” says Megan Multanen, senior sales officer at Bestbath and chair of the ACMA Architectural Division. “Composites are already playing a big role in both large-scale and small-scale projects in both exterior and interior applications, and we’re excited to share our story at the show.”

For more information about composites in architectural applications, visit