Summary: Fentress Global Challenge (FGC) is an annual international student design competition. This year, it calls students to create a new airport terminal concept.  Entrants are encouraged to utilize forecasts for population, environmental conditions, modes of travel, and potential destinations in the creation of their concept.



Despite a multitude of technological advances including video conferencing and drones, the proliferation of airports worldwide continues to be spurred on by global commerce and an unrelenting demand for travel.

While the airport terminal—conceived a century ago—is a relatively new architectural typology, it has since its inception held equal importance with quintessential civic buildings: city halls, courthouses, libraries, museums, and theaters.  Yet, airports are uniquely complex and they are more than just high volume transportation hubs.  Increasingly, airports are also workplaces, centers of commerce, recreational outlets, and cultural resources. 

Fentress Global Challenge (FGC) is an annual international student design competition.  Since its inception in 2011, thousands of entries from over 75 countries have competed for top honors.  FGC represents an extraordinary exploration into the future of architecture, and in so doing, continues to advance the pursuit of innovative design in public architecture.  


FGC is open to graduate and undergraduate students currently pursuing architecture or engineering degrees in an accredited university program, as well as recent graduates (within the last four years) with a degree in architecture or engineering. Current students must provide proof of active enrollment status: a scanned copy of their student ID and current course schedule. Recent graduates must provide a scanned copy of their diploma.


FGC participants are challenged to envision a terminal building for the year 2100. Concepts must:

I.      Create a new airport terminal concept.  Entrants are encouraged to utilize forecasts for population, environmental conditions, modes of travel, and potential destinations in the creation of their concept.     

II.     Employ Fentress’ Touchstone 2: Use Context to Create Identity. “Context is more than an intellectual consideration of the history or physical appearance of a neighborhood, city, or state, and it’s more than the way new will live with old. Context draws on the senses, the sights, smells and memories that define a place and make it unique. Context grows from community, and people respond to it.” For more on Fentress’ Eight Touchstones of Design: 

III.    Improve upon at least one primary factor influencing airport terminal building design in 2100.  Entrants are encouraged to make projections about the factors that will most influence airport architecture in the future.  Examples of factors include mobility, urbanization, globalization, technology, flexibility, security, project feasibility, and passenger experience. 

IV.   Achieve sustainability and resiliency.  Sustainable design is the creation of places that are environmentally responsible, healthy, equitable, and profitable. Resilient designs are capable of adapting to changing conditions and maintain or regain functionality in the face of natural and manmade disasters. 

V.     Choose one of two site selection options:

      a. Site the new terminal at an existing airport of your choosing, such as:

      b. Site the new terminal at a location of your choice where an airprot does not yet exist. Participants should consider sites where an airport could serve as a catalyst for economic and social development. Examples include:


Use clear, concise language to convey ideas, key points, and design solutions. Photographs, diagrams, renderings, animations, collages or other visualizations are encouraged to help explain the concept, respecting the guidelines previously described. Please label drawings.


The design approach is innovative and inspiring. Both the concept and design solution are presented through unique and compelling graphics.


The design honors the physical attributes of the site’s context and culture. The overall design strategy matches the global and local demographic requirements of the location. Again, use context to create identity.


The design minimizes negative impacts to the wellbeing of humans and the natural environment. The overall design strategy also responds to vulnerabilities including natural and manmade disasters.


The planning and building organization is clear and appropriate. The design solution contains a defined and well- articulated structural, technical, and constructible rationale.


Innovation in the terminal’s design should align with future perspectives in aviation and technology. The design should incorporate forward-looking innovations that improve the entire passenger experience, including efficiency, comfort, safety, health/wellbeing, sustainability, value, and entertainment/amenities.


1ST PLACE: US$15,000
2ND PLACE: US$3,000
3RD PLACE: US$2,000


Competition Announcement: February 15, 2021
Design Submission Deadline: October 1, 2021
Shortlist Announcement: November 1, 2021
Winners Announcement: December 1, 2021


Participants must register and upload competition materials to their profile page at no later than October 1, 2021 (23:00 GMT).  Guidelines for the submission:

Mandatory Formatting:

•       Official language is English

•       Official system of measurements is United States customary units 

•       File must be saved as a PDF and named as follows: “2020_(team name)_(design concept name).pdf”

•       File must contain no more than eight (8) single-sided, 11-inch x 17-inch, landscape-oriented pages

•       Each of the up to eight (8) pages must be labelled with page number and team name

•       File size must not exceed 100MB

Mandatory Content:

•       Title of design concept

•       Description of design concept (400-word maximum)

•       Description of entrant (team or individual)

•       Supporting images to include diagrams, plans, sections, and/or perspectives

•       In a separate PDF, include photocopies of all student IDs (or other proof of school registration)

Plagiarism and cheating will result in disqualification. 


FGC will be judged in two stages.  A first-round jury of distinguished experts will shortlist fifteen (15) designs from which a second-round jury will select the three finalists.  Members of the jury—to be announced at a later date—will include airport directors, futurists, sustainability and resiliency experts, airport architects, and Fentress Fellows. 

All shortlisted entries will also be eligible for the People’s Choice Award, which will be judged on Fentress Architects’ Facebook page. The two submissions receiving the most “likes” will win a prize of US$1,000 each.

Download full rules and regulations here

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