As part of the MCA 2008 Student Design Competition, architectural students will use their skills to create a museum on the Great Lakes.

Now in its 11th year, the annual competition offers students in schools of architecture a chance to learn about designing and building with metal. Contestants must tackle architectural, structural, functional, cultural and environmental issues in a project that uses metal as a structural and design element.

This year’s conceptual project is to design a maritime museum and historical center for Chicago’s Northerly Island, located on the shores of Lake Michigan, just south of the city’s downtown. The center will house interactive displays and programs, classrooms, a research library and a restaurant.

Each year, a new project theme is developed by a team of architects and Chicago Park district planners headed by Andy Koglin, vice president of Chicago-based OKW Architects. Koglin also drafts specifications for the conceptual MCA student design project, which typically is related to recreation and based on an actual Chicago Park district site. All concepts must also follow the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building standards.

The key requirement for all entries is to include metal as the primary structural material and in architectural applications. Other materials can be specified in the design.

Individuals or groups of students can submit designs, but each entry must have a faculty sponsor. All entries are judged by a panel of architects and planners who select the top three designs and MCA provides financial awards for the winning entries.