Metropolis magazine is challenging designers to bring a typical U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) building in downtown L.A. to Zero in their annual design competition, Next Generation 2011: Get Zero. The challenge is to take an ordinary GSA office building in Los Angeles, apply immense skill and creative energy to achieve zero environmental impact – a goal that the GSA has set for its existing 9,600 properties. But this competiton isn’t just for a handful of beans – to show you how serious they are about this initiative, the GSA and Metropolis will award the winning design with a whopping $10,000!

GSA, one of the world’s biggest landlords, is being challenged by its Administrator Martha Johnson to achieve a Zero Environmental Footprint for its existing office buildings. With an incredible stock of of over 9,600 buildings, many dated, this competition is just the tip of the iceberg – how can forward thinking-design transform backwards-looking buildings?

Not just a call for obscure concepts, the GSA is looking for an idea able to supply the firepower it needs to make this drastic zero-impact transformation in all of its buildings. Using an 8-story building at 300 North Los Angeles Street (in the Civic Center area of Los Angeles), as the test case, entrants will need to design a complete solution able to transform the existing building, bringing it to the highest possible level of performance in a memorable, beautiful, and original way. Entrants may be teams working together to transform the entire building (and its surroundings), or individuals or small groups tackling one or two individual systems and elements (facade, roof, fenestration, interior furnishings and equipment, signage and way-finding, among many other details). The entries must also focus on making the building safe, accessible, and efficient for the people who work there and the thousands of citizens who visit it.

Sound like a lot to manage? Well, get on it because the entry deadline is January 31, 2011. And if the possibility of turning over 9,600 buildings into zero-impact havens isn’t enough to convince you to get moving, don’t forget that your winning design could place $10,000 in your pocket!

+ Next Generation 2011 Design Competition