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?



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!




Entering its 6th year, the Chicago-based Mock Firms Competition has become one of the foremost student-based design competitions in the country. The Mock Firms model aims to help facilitate the formation and function of simulated-architectural design firms by collegiate and secondary school students and is open to any Chicago college student, as well as national and international 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 best and brightest talent from the U.S. and around the world. Additionally, these future 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.




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.






To organize a “mock” or simulated design\build firm for the purposes of conceiving, coordinating, constructing and commercializing a athletic and fitness-oriented vertical village to be located in Seoul, South Korea.




Seoul is the capital and largest city in South Korea with a population of over 10 million and a metropolitan area of over 26 million people. The city situated near the Han River and surrounded by mountains dates back to more than 2000 years. Interestedly, Seoul has been a favorite travel destination among the Asian world community being voted the world's most wanted travel destination by Chinese, Japanese and Thai tourists for three consecutive years in 2009-2011 with over 10 million international visitors in 2012.* Seoul is home to the world's largest tech company - Samsung in addition to LG and Hyundai-Kia.


*Source: Wikipedia



Urban and civil planning was a key concept when Seoul was first designed to serve as a capital in the late 14th century.  Seoul has been surrounded by walls that were built to regulate visitors from other regions and protect the city in case of invasion.  After many centuries of destruction and rebuilding, approximately 2/3 of the wall remains, as well as six of the original eight gates. There are also many buildings constructed with international styles in the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

Major modern landmarks in Seoul include the Korea Finance Building, N Seoul Tower, the World Trade Center and the seven-skyscraper residence Tower Palace. These and various high-rise office buildings, like the Gangnam Finance Center and Jongno Tower, dominate the city's skyline. Due to its high density, Seoul has a vast array of skyscrapers; the city council is now planning a series of new highrises, including a 640-meter business center in Sangam Digital Media City district and the 523-meter Lotte World 2 Tower in the Jamsil district of Songpa District and Gangdong District. Currently, the tallest in the city is the 73-story Tower Palace in Dogok-dong. In recognition of all the notable recent buildings erected in the city, in 2010 Seoul was designated the World Design Capital for the year. Also, two new modern landmarks of Seoul are Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park, designed by Zaha Hadid, and the new wave-shaped Seoul City Hall, by Yoo Kerl of iArc.*

*Source: Wikipedia



2013 International Mock Firm Azahar, Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain

2012 International Mock Firm Capsule ArchitectureLab, NewSchool of Arch, San Diego, CA

2011 International Mock Firm VOX, DIS Copenhagen, Denmark

2010 International Mock Firm Meteous, Cal Poly, San Luis-Obispo, CA

2009 International Mock Firm Cal Poly, San Luis-Obispo, CA





  • 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 Skyscraper Champion and runner-up

  • Overall Mock Firm Champion

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


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Team from Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain Take Top Honors for 2013


Winners have been announced recently at the fifth annual Mock Firms International Skyscraper Competition, organized by Chicago Architecture Today. With the theme of "Rediscover the Future," aspiring young design professionals from all over the world were challenged to conceive, construct and commercialize an iconic super-tall tower with healthcare, university and residential use for Amman, Jordan.


Alexander Darias, Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain


The top title of International Skyscraper and Mock Firm Champion (a combination of architectural and marketing efforts) was awarded to the team AZAHAR Architecture composed of five architecture students and one professor from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain.


Project Description from the Architects:

Our 1000m tall building was called Az-Zahr (which means flower in ancient Arabic) and it was conceived mixing the characteristic geometric patterns of the Arabic architecture with the organic growth of several petals whose shapes determine the final appearance of the skyscraper.



The final location of the building was Al-Abdali, one of the most important projects that will be developed in Amman’s heart. A new city center which will collect lots of commercial, residential, leisure and office buildings as well as green spaces.


The team decided to integrate the skyscraper with Amman society creating a public plaza at the basement of the building; moreover the distribution of the floors totally help that integration because it was decided to situate the more public uses in the areas closest to the ground floor, increasing the privacy of uses as the building rises.


The project is a bioclimatic mixed-use skyscraper. The architectural concept is centered on mimicry in the form of a flower maximizing the environmental benefits of its void core, while avoiding the direct sun rays by using electrochromic windows. It has been conceived to achieve a LEED Gold Rate using different elements and methods as green roofs, solar chimney, light core, natural ventilation due to stack effect, electrochromic windows and so on.



In addition, the structural system of the building has been also calculated in a total accordance with design and sustainability methods. It presents a radial organization of shear walls and columns that generate concentric rings of rigid cores around the center of the plan. These rigid cores collaborate with each other, generating a macro-rigid-core with varying (reducing) size throughout the height of the structure. The radial organization is optimized through the distribution of the resistant elements along the three isometric portions of the plane, generating a somewhat triangular layout, which produces a better aerodynamic and structural behavior.


Finally, Amman is called "the white city" due to the limestone coating present in most buildings. To keep this feature of the city, we have included this local material in the top of each petal.





If you are administrating or instructing studio classes within your school or college of architecture, consider utilizing the design criteria for the 2014 International Skyscraper Challenge as a semester studio assignment. In addition to the benefit of availing yourself to this ready-made design brief, your class can benefit from the measurement against the best among their peers as well as the rare personal evaluation of their work from leaders in design profession.





Undergrad and graduate architecture students take this opportunity to put your talents and abilities into the marketplace through participating in this years' International Skyscraper Challenge. In utilizing the 2012 Mock Firms Competition as a classroom studio, independent study project or a personal project among friends, you can position yourself to be recognized among the some of the world's top collegiate prospects to firms seeking to take on the best and the brightest! Take advantage today of this unique opportunity to show you have what it takes to play a meaningful role in a firm as you organize your team (firm) to advance a design project through from start to finish. Then get to experience our exclusive one-on-one interaction with the nation's top design professionals who'll advise you and your team on what it takes to get to the next level. Find a faculty sponsor and register today!  



2013 Top International Mock Firm - Azahar, Valencia, Spain





In order to qualify for participation in the Mock Firms competitions, entrants must submit among other stated criteria a project proposal. This proposal is a preliminary declaration of the scope and direction of your desired building project. We are not looking for details at this stage as we know things of this nature are to be worked through an ongoing design process. We are seeking a rudimentary approach to what kind of design team you may be looking to assemble in order to accomplish competition objectives. Additionally, we desire to gage your initial perspective on the overall scope and direction of your design concept. This report is to be viewed only as a summary of possibilities and intent and will not be used to tie any "firm" to its content in the final analysis. Our hope is that each design partner or team give purposeful thought to their plan of action even that those plans evolve into something almost entirely different from what was present at the outset. To this end, we are asking for a 1 - 3 page, 1.5 or 2x spaced brief which includes a tentative firm name, possible individual project team titles (responsibilities) needed, why you and your firm are taking on this commission, name and dominate program of your building, tentative height/floors, tentative site, intentions of incorporation of sustainable principles and consultation you may seek (i.e. teacher, professors, professionals, etc). This report should accompany registration but can be sent separately up to February 22, 2014. 



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

  • Overall Mock Firms Champions 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.




  • 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 Project Parameters 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







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.





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.








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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