For fifty years, there has been an architectural design competition for Bay Area high school students. This annual event challenges students to create a design for a major new building, and requires students to submit presentation boards with drawings of their solution, a physical scale model and a written description of their approach to the design.

Every year hundreds of students from various high schools participate. Many of San Francisco’s leading architects participated in the competition when they were in high school, and credit it with helping them decide on their career.


This year, you are challenged to design the new Tenderloin YMCA as part of UC Hastings’ Long Range Campus Plan at the nexus of San Francisco’s Civic Center, Tenderloin, and Mid-Market neighborhoods.

The University of California Hastings College of the Law - a public law school in San Francisco is currently undergoing an expansion of its existing facilities to both upgrade its academic environments and increase the amount of affordable student and teacher housing available. As part of the master plan expansion, UC Hastings endeavors to embed itself deeper into the public realm by not only providing the infrastructure necessary for its students and teachers but for everyone in the community as well to best weave its academic campus aspirations into the overall neighborhood fabric. The new YMCA facility will be the centerpiece of these communal upgrades.

“The YMCA is a unique organization that is skilled in serving diverse communities with recreational and wellness programs and opportunities for all ages. It also serves as a community hub that brings together disparate groups into a united community. In this partnership with UC Hastings, the YMCA seeks to incorporate a 39,000-square foot facility into one of the new buildings on the campus, most likely at 198 McAllister. On site, the YMCA would offer a new wellness, recreation and community services facility with aquatics, team sports, and multipurpose spaces. The YMCA would also partner with the legal and medical students and faculty to provide clinics and workshops that would benefit both students and the community members who participate.”

YMCA Development

For over a century, the Central YMCA occupied the historic 9-story 150,000 square foot building at 220 Golden Gate Ave. in San Francisco’s Tenderloin. Completed in 1910, the building was the oldest YMCA in the city and in need of seismic retrofitting, which the organization could not afford. Since its closure in mid-2009 and after the building was sold to the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp. to be converted to supportive housing, the Central YMCA has been looking for a new home to bring back what was once an integral hub for the community at large.

“It resets our longest-term and deepest commitment in this city, which is to the Tenderloin. It opens an opportunity to show what the Y can bring in a holistic way to a larger vision around an academic village. It will be more than just a gym, a swimming pool and exercise space. We are interested in social justice, in youth development, in holistic and chronic disease prevention. We see a tremendous opportunity for civic engagement.”


– Chuck Collins, President, YMCA of San Francisco

Another community-oriented tenant in the new campus facilities may be a Legal Services hub, which would accommodate a variety of nonprofit legal services organizations maximizing shared platform and space sharing opportunities. The co-location of these organizations would offer synergistic opportunities, including internships for law and other graduate students as well as being a source of legal services to the community at large.

We would like you to consider what it means to enhance an upgraded academic campus with a communal amenity and design a building that is inclusive of all users. As always with this competition, you will be critiqued more on the aspirations of your “big idea” than your ability to problem-solve every technical detail of your design’s real-life features and ramifications. However, if you do choose to elaborate on certain technical aspects of your design, we will welcome anything and everything that intrigues you about your design. Have fun with it!

Competition Schedule


Entries must be submitted on: Saturday, April 27, 2019

Between 10:00 am and12:00 noon  

Location: TBA.


Please note that late submissions will NOT be accepted.


Sunday, April 28, 2019

4:00 – 5:00 pm

We award prizes in 3 categories:

1) Best Design (single entrant) 

2) Best Group entry 

3) Best Digital entry   

Depending on which option you choose to enter, you will only be eligible for certain awards.  In addition to the standard prizes, the first place winner in the overall superiority category will receive a four week Summer Pre-college Scholarship at the California College of the Arts.



155 Montgomery Street

Suite 300

San Francisco, CA 94104

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn



© 2019 by Forge Development Partners. Proudly created by Desert Owl Media