2021 BLTa Student Design Competition


BLT Architects (BLTa) is pleased to announce its 10th Annual Student Design Competition. This year, unlike prior in-studio sessions, we will host a virtual competition beginning on Saturday, February 27th, and ending Sunday, February 28th. Structured as a hackathon-style partner challenge, the competition is open to students enrolled in an architectural program graduating in 2022 or after at a qualifying school. Refer to eligibility below for further guidelines.

Potential interns enter the Student Design Competition as a team. A maximum of twenty teams will be accepted. The competition will be hosted through zoom and other digital communication applications.

Each two-person team will be assigned a coach from BLTa to provide guidance and support.

For more information, check out the FAQs below.


Both members of the winning team will be awarded $1,000 and a paid internship with BLT Architects for the summer of 2021.

All participants will receive a Sampler of Philadelphia Treats gift box upon submission of their final design.


Competing teams will be tasked to develop a mixed-use development on a specific site in one of Philadelphia’s emerging neighborhoods.  The challenge will align with current local and global concerns of urbanism and sustainability.  An email containing a more detailed competition prompt and a list of materials to bring will be released a week before the competition date on February 22, 2021.


  • Participants must be third or fourth-year students pursuing a five-year Bachelors of Architecture degree or first and second-year graduate students pursuing a three-year Masters in Architecture degree.
  • Participants must be eligible to work in the United States and over the age of 18.
  • Participants must have an anticipated graduation date of 2022 or later.
  • Participants must be currently enrolled in an architectural program at the following NAAB and accredited schools during the 2020-2021 academic year:
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Catholic University
  • Columbia University
  • Drexel University
  • Jefferson
  • Howard University
  • NJIT
  • New School / Parsons School of Design
  • Penn State University
  • Pratt University
  • Princeton University
  • Syracuse University
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Temple University


  • Teams must have exactly two individuals. Each team member must register separately and identify their teammate when registering.
  • All participants must provide a scanned copy of their student ID and proof of major upon registration.
  • Winners must provide resumes and references.

Teams will receive an acceptance email confirming registration once both members have registered and eligibility is confirmed. Participation is predicated on acceptance of these regulations. Entrants who do not adhere to any competition rules may be immediately disqualified.


Teams will be judged on the following criteria:

Creative Approach:
• The design response is innovative and inspirational
• The design addresses any critical issues

Response to Site:
• The design responds to the physical aspects
• The design responds to site context

• The design considers the environmental impact and energy use
• The design considers social sustainability, occupant lifestyle, and well-being

• Planning and building organization is clear and appropriate
• There is a clear structural, technical, and constructional rationale

Coaches are not involved in the judging process.


Registration will remain open until February 19, 2021, at 11:59 pm ET, or until twenty teams have registered. After this time, teams will be added to a waiting list.

Please upload a photo of your student id and proof of major


Q: Do I have to be a student in the United States?

A: Yes. The competition is only open to students enrolled in approved architectural programs. Additionally, students must be already eligible to work in the United States.

Q: Are graduate students eligible?

A: The competition is open to both graduate and undergraduate students graduating in 2022 or later.

Q: How many people are allowed per team?

A: Each team will have exactly two individuals, both of whom must meet eligibility requirements.

Q: If I don’t have a partner, can BLTa assign one to me?

A: While BLTa cannot assign partners, individuals looking for team members are encouraged to post a query on BLTa’s Facebook Event page, https://www.facebook.com/BLTarchitects/.

Q: What is an employee coach?

A: Each team will be paired with a current BLTa professional to respond to questions and provide strategic guidance.

Q: What is the grand prize this year?

A: The grand prize consists of a paid internship at BLT Architects for the summer of 2021, as well as a $1,000 per individual. The winning entry will be posted on the BLT Architects website.

Q: I’m a student in an accredited architecture program, but I don’t see my school on the list. Am I still eligible to enter?

A: For questions of eligibility and exceptions, email [email protected]

Q: How much does registration cost?

A: Participation in the Student Design Competition is free of charge. All participants will receive a Sampler of Philadelphia Treats gift box upon submission of their final design.

Q: When is the deadline for registration?

A: Registration closes on February 19, 2021, at 11:59 pm ET or when twenty teams are reached.

Q: Are there any requirements on what I have to submit as a registrant?

A: Entrants must submit a scanned copy of student ID as a JPEG (maximum size of 10 MB). Proof of major must be provided (i.e., copy of class registration). Both partners must provide all materials at the time of registration.

Q: Where do I sign up to get the design prompt?

A: All those who register will automatically receive notices, including the design prompt via email.

Q: What do I need?

A: One week before the competition, all registered competitors will receive an email outlining required and prohibited items.

Q: What is the timeline for the competition?

A: The competition will begin on Saturday, February 27, 2021, at 9:00 am. Participants will be given the full design prompt and expectations. Final submissions must be received electronically by 9:00 am Sunday, February 28, 2021. Each team will give a 2-minute presentation of their submission, and after deliberation, the Judges will announce the winners.