In the 125 years since William Le Baron Jenney’s 10-story Home Insurance Building in Chicago became the world’s first skyscraper, the spectacle of soaring towers has become increasingly common wherever land is scarce, allowing cities to stack life ever taller, denser and more dynamic. Like cathedrals and palaces of the past, skyscrapers today define their cities’ identities as they shape the skyline. As the late critic Herbert Muschamp wrote of these modern wonders, “Contemporary architects reveal the inner world in the process of adorning the outer one.”

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An identifiable characteristic of 21st century cultures throughout the west is a focus upon achieving healthier lifestyles and higher degrees of physical fitness. Populations in the Netherlands and Europe for example have for decades encouraged the use of bicycling as transit while many cities in the United States have begun to see the merits of this form of transportation. Trends in exercise, food and dining, health and fitness, and building systems are reflecting a renewed interest and emphasis upon conscious efforts to approach our living, work and recreational environments with a greater understanding of the benefits of a healthy perspective.  Certainly, recent national surveys reveal this mindset has not come about a minute too soon. The latest statistics from the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition reveal the following:

  • Only one in three children are physically active everyday

  • Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day, only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.

  • More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, and more than 80% of adolescents do not do enough aerobic physical  activity to meet the guidelines for youth

  • Only about one in five homes have parks within a half-mile, and about the same number have a fitness or recreation center within that distance.

  • Almost 40% of Black and Latino youth ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese compared to only 29% of White youth.

The 2014 Mock Firms Competitions is seeking to identify every aspiring young designer who has the personal "Strength to Soar" in exercising leadership ability to compete and achieve. Additionally, we ask the question: "Will a project emerge with such solid core design principles that it rises above not only the a skyline but also above its contemporaries?" It is possible the next iconic skyscraper, home design or building technology resides in this upcoming group of competition participants. Could that be you?


Rooftop view of the Dallas skyline


The end of summer is never an easy reality to accept. Yet, the opportunities for new discoveries and achievements, anticipated in upcoming sessions of collaborative learning, can bring a unique excitement and level of satisfaction unparalleled among personal experiences. One such opportunity for discovery and achievement is the 2014 Mock Firms International Skyscraper Challenge and National Home Design Competition concluding May 1-2, 2014 in beautiful downtown Chicago. With the theme of "Strength to Soar," aspiring young design professionals will be challenged to produce an iconic super-tall for Seoul, South Korea (collegiate) and Dallas, Texas (high school). The programmatic target aims at design solutions for a athletic and fitness inspired vertical village and sustainable single-family residence. Finalist will share in the unique experience of interacting with leading design professionals as their ideas are evaluated by the same. The outcome of the 2013 event saw first time winners from Valencia, Spain and Grand Haven Michigan. Lemont High School and Olathe East High School in Olathe, Kansas shared high honors in National Skyscraper and Home Design categories.


This year could hold that defining moment for your academic (and maybe professional) career through the gathering of a "dream team" of skilled classmates, the submission of a ground-breaking design, and the confident pitch to some of the nation's leading architects. Why not take on the challenge as a senior project, independent study, semester assignment or studio project. Measure your progress and your abilities against many of the best in your subject, major or field of study. The ascent to the top may be the result of an  ambitious path of adventure! Be apart of an elite class. Step out from the crowd. Apply online today!


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In its 6th year, the Chicago-based Mock Firms student design competitions is redefining the academic competitive model. Mock Firms aims to help facilitate the formation and function of simulated-architectural design firms by collegiate and secondary school students. The desired outcome is to foster collaborative and cooperative educational experiences which may better prepare participants for a workplace environment which values these and similar values. This competitive event continues to bring together some of the most creative and talented students and educational professionals from across the U.S. and around the world. Additionally, these aspiring design professionals are given the unique opportunity to interact with the industry's leading design\build professionals as they pitch their design concepts directly to them receiving immediate feedback and evaluation of their work.





Dallas, Texas has been chosen for the location of the 2014 Mock Firms National Skyscraper Challenge. Known as the "Big D", the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metroplex boasts a population of over 6 million with one of the largest economies in the U.S. and serves as a major hub of Fortune 500 corporations. According to Wikipedia, Dallas' skyline contains several buildings over 700 feet (210 m) in height.


Although the city has a wealth of traditional architecture, it has not lagged behind in examples of modernist and contemporary styles by some of the world's most notable designers including I.M. Pei who designed Dallas City Hall. Currently, the 72-story (921 ft) Bank of America Plaza is the tallest building in Dallas and the third tallest in the state of Texas. The title for the tallest tower in Texas resides in Houston which is the home of the JPMorgan Chase Tower standing at 1,002 feet completed in 1982.


In the area of athletic fitness and health, Dallas maintains and operates 406 parks on 21,000 acres of parkland with 61 miles if biking and jogging trails in addition to hundreds of sports & athletic fields, courts, swimming pools including six 18-hole golf courses. The need for a revival of athletic fitness and well-being in the Dallas metropolitan area is significant. IN 2013, it ranked 44th out 50 cities as the healthiest and fittest metropolitan area in the United States according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) annual American Fitness Index (AFI)


Downtown Dallas


The amateur architects of the 2014 Mock Firms National Skyscraper Competition are being commissioned to design the world's next supertall among selected sites* in Dallas, Texas. The design program for this vertical village is to be athletic and lifestyle physical fitness. The facility should include but not be limited to condominium units tailored to athletic and\or healthy lifestyle living, commercial establishments catering to fitness-related needs (i.e. sporting goods, vitamin & supplements, gym & fitness establishments, etc.), sports medical research and offices, amateur and professional league offices, indoor training facilities for soccer, football, golf, hockey, tennis, gymnastics, etc. Specific amenities include a an outdoor pool, running areas indoors and outdoors, a velodrome, food court, personal garden space, etc.* Parking should be limited to encourage walking, biking and public transportation. In broad terms, the building should be contemporary in style and materials and look toward the future in geometry and technology. Environmental and sustainable principles and procedures should be a part of an overall system of holistic design. 


*Refer to the upcoming Design Brief for specific project parameters.   





Chicago, Illinois will once again serve as the site of the 2014 Mock Firms Competition final presentations. The tentative location for this event is the Congress Hotel and Plaza Convention Center on beautiful and iconic Michigan Avenue. It sits across from the city's front yard - Grant Park and is but a few steps from the world renown Millennium Park. This historic facility has hosted presidents and dignitaries both famous and infamous, national and international for more than a century.






Over 30 registered student-firms

Over 90 individual participants

9 different participating states

Nearly $2,000 in prizes distributed


2013 National Champs Studio 2102, Grand Haven H.S., Grand Haven, Michigan

2012 National Champs InFocus, Olathe East H.S., Olathe, Kansas

2011 National Champs DNA Residential, White Knoll H.S., Lexington, South Carolina

2010 National Champs Synergy Associates, Appleton East  H.S., Appleton Wisconsin

2009 National Champs H.O.B. + Associates, Carbondale Comm. H.S., Carbondale, Illinois



Skyline Design, Olathe East H.S., Olathe, Kansas





Arkansas          New Mexico

California          North Carolina

Georgia            Oregon   

Illinois              South Carolina

Kansas            Texas

Michigan          West Virginia

Missouri           Wisconsin


New York








  • Top Architecture Firm (relating to basic design idea)

  • Top Construction Firm (related to physical model)

  • Top Marketing Firm (related to graphic & oral presentations)

  • Top Sustainable Firm (demonstrable understanding of sustainability)

  • Top Organizational Firm (participants & structure)


  • International & National Skyscraper Champion and runner-up

  • National Home Design Champion and runner-up

  • Regional Champions and runner-up (Skyscraper & Home Design)

  • Overall Mock Firm Champion (Skyscraper and* Home Design)

Awards are $500* for Overall Mock Firms Champion (*award minimum and subject to doubled amount contingent upon final registration results)







Mock Firms competitions are open to all registered or enrolled collegiate students whether undergraduate or graduate level. Qualifying institutions do not have to be accredited "design" programs but can also include community colleges and liberal arts schools. Individuals who are currently not enrolled but are not employed or interning at a design firm and are no more than 1 year removed from their last attendance or graduation date can also qualify but should seek to retain a faculty sponsor or advisor from their affiliated school. However, faculty advisors or department personnel are not required for participation. Because Mock Firms is a wholly collaborative enterprise, entrants must register a team of no less than two (2) partners, but not more than five (5) to qualify for competition.  A "firm" should consist of students from the same institution or previously enrolled at that institution at the time registration.





The basic required submissions for the competition are as follows: for a more detailed description of each item, please refer to the design brief which can be downloaded below

  • A registration form emailed or direct mailed

  • Registration fee in the form of a check or online payment

  • 1 - 3 page proposal summarizing the general design direction of your building project

  • Preliminary sketch(es) of the partner's initial design ideas

  • An organizational chart or description outlining the hierarchy and functions of all contributing members of your team

  • Promotional materials i.e. brochures, business cards, etc for your building project

  • Media Publication i.e. social & local media reporting on your participation in this event

  • A video presentation introducing your firm (all partners), location, and your project 

  • Board presentations showing plans, perspectives & sections of your building 

  •  A scaled physical model of the building and its surrounding environs.

  •  A 10 minute oral presentation selling company and building proposal which should include descriptions of materials used, architectural styling, amenities, features, innovations, sustainability and LEED design goals, creative financing, and community benefits.



  • The registration fee will be waived for any 3rd or 4th time individual participate in the Mock Firms competition

  • Overall Mock Firms Champion could be awarded to both the Skyscraper and Home Design Champions

  • Submission of digital images will be required for each project via Dropbox, email or DVD.


Please note that the maximum exterior footprint requirement of 6000 sq ft given on page 5 in the Design Requirements section of the Design Brief should in fact be listed as square meters.


Selected Sites Are In! They are as follows:

Note: These are suggested sites. You are allowed to submit an alternate site as your primary location. Please reference Google Earth or research city or CAD maps for Dallas for more specific graphic information


1) Across from Woodall Rogers Park

The site across from the Park has a Chase Motor Bank; the address is:
2101 N Pearl 
Dallas, TX 75201

2) Across from Perot

The site across from the Perot has a "Sidewalk sale" business and the address is:

1100 McKinney Avenue

Dallas, TX 75201


3) Next to Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

Please refer to attached images

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3



  • LATE REGISTRATION Ends Saturday, February 22, 2014

  • VIDEO PRESENTATIONS DUE: Saturday, April 12, 2014

  • NON-ATTENDEES PROJECTS DUE: Friday, April 25, 2014

  • PROJECTS PRESENTATIONS: Friday, May 2, 2014


Download Registration Form Here


Download Skyscraper Design Brief Here


Late Registration

Competition Division

Enter name of school & town



Send any inquiries, info to the following:


Please email questions, registration and proposals to

(emails will be replied within 24 hours)


Direct phone inquires between the hours of 7am - 7pm CST

773.410.1314 (please identify contest division and location)


Brief inquiries can also be texted to 773.410.1314  for a more immediate response


Registration materials can be sent via direct mail to the following  address:

Chicago Architecture Today

P.O. Box 3714

Chicago, IL 60654



Visit and like our mock firms Facebook page where contacts videos will be linked along with the YouTube postings.






Fundamental Exercises in Green Building Design




Bringing Our Research and Today's Industry Experts Into Your Classrooms and Organizational Meetings!


A new instructional video series on sustainable design. Titles in this 5-disk video curriculum include:

  • Sustainability in Focus

  • Sustainability Diversified and Applied

  • Sustainable Systems

  • Sustainable Building and Lifestyle Products

Accompanying the 4 DVD's is a data CD which contains the following:

  • A multi-question file which can be used as an exam or series quiz

  • LEED Design situations for cad programs

  • Case Studies of successful green projects

  • Images of green-related subjects

Additionally, a 46-page workbook of assignments and resources compliments the video series with ...

  • Discussion, Group & Design Questions & Projects

  • A Green Glossary & Statistics

  • LEED Charts

  • Important Standards in Sustainability

  • Online Resources

Based on the documentary Sustainable Chicago

Produced & Published by Chicago Architecture Today LLC

5-Disk Package (DVD, CD) & Soft cover Workbook, 46 pages

Retail Price $549.95 (20 additional workbooks - $699.95)

To purchase by check, designate payee as Chicago Architecture Today LLC

Please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery


Available Packages


Refund Policy

Full refunds are available for the return of any unopened materials (video and workbook) for up to 10 days after receiving purchase. Return shipping costs will be the responsibility of the customer. Cancelled purchases will be honored if the material has not yet been shipped and if shipped, will be fulfilled after items are returned. There is a non-return policy if any part of the purchased and shipped material has been opened or used. 



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