2013 Burningman Airport Terminal and Pilot’s Lounge Design/Build Competition

Vision and Description

Burning Man 2013 will be in its 27th year and is the largest and highest profile participatory Art Event and collaborative social living experiment in the World. Close to 60,000 people are expected to attend the weeklong event from August 25 to September 1, 2013. Some participants and almost all of the high profile attendees fly into the Airport at Burning Man called the Black Rock City Municipal Airport (BRCMA), which borders the enclosed event. During the Event it is the most active airport in Nevada.

When attendees land we want their eyes to pop out at the visual feast before them. The surrounding environment they now find themselves in is already spectacular. The Terminal and Pilots Lounge should compete with the best Airport architecture on the planet and immediately lift ones spirits. Think of the Temple at Burning Man and then say WOW when you look at the Terminal!

The design must include a new 3,200 square foot  Airport Terminal and a separate but design-integrated Pilots Lounge. The Terminal and the Pilots Lounge layout requirements are specified below.

Pictures of current Terminal and Pilot’s Lounge as well as construction manual for same available upon request. Short description of what worked and what problems were encountered included.

Registration Deadline: 02/05/2013

Submission deadline: 02/15/2013

Open to: All

Entry Fee: None (We’re Burners)

Awards: Award Ceremony Recognition at 2013 Black Rock City Municipal Airport Terminal and an air trip for two before, after, or during the Event from Black Rock City Municipal Airport to Soldiers Meadow ( ) for a soak and meal.

Panel of Judges  Thom Faulders, Eric Corey Freed, Thomas Rettenwender, and Michael Twing, Steve Ramseur (co-designers of previous Terminal) and 1-2 more judges to be announced.

Judging Criteria :  The projects will be judged according to the following categories : Feasibility, Creativity, Sustainability, Flow and Efficient Use of Space, Choice of Materials.

Design Criteria

The Terminal is to include:

  1. Customs, may be a counter or flow through area, utilizes 150 square feet
  2. Charter Flights Customer Service Counter 100 square feet
  3. Seating for 80 people and aisles 2950 square feet
  4. Airport Terminal – 3200 square feet
  5. The Terminal shall include a shaded area, for Customs, which must be able to be flipped to either end of the terminal depending upon year to year changes in overall Airport layout.
  6. The Charter Flights (an increasingly important aspect of the Airport as an Event Portal) Customer Service Counter needs to be primarily accessible from the city side of the Terminal.  The Customer Service Counter needs an electrical outlet and sound system announcement microphone.
  7. Shaded seating for 80 people occupies the majority of the remaining floor space.
  8. The Box Office and Passport Office are currently contained in an 8′ x 8′ x 20′ container. The structure is stationed at the fence line to process incoming arrivals. The Terminal will need direct and close connection to this office. The Unicom booth is situated on top of the container.
  9. Visual engagement of passengers with the planes on the ramp, and the surrounding Airport community is of primary importance. Surrounding mountains, landing planes, planes parked on the Ramp, art displayed within and immediately outside the Terminal, and the City that beckons are the entertainment that the Terminal passively provides.
  10. The flow of incoming passengers and pilots is from the Ramp through the gate to the box office, passport office, and into the Terminal covering the Customs shack for proper greeters to engage. Exiting from Customs and you find yourself within the larger Terminal with views of the City in the distance.
  11. The canopy or covered space in the current terminal design covers 3,200 square feet.
  12. The long axis of the Terminal needs to run parallel to the perimeter fence of the Event, and that geographical orientation can change from year to year.
  13. Charter Flights, an increasingly important aspect of the Airport as an Event Portal, needs a 10′ x 10′ space for their Customer Service Counter with electrical outlet and sound system announcement microphone. An 8′ high x 10′ wide wall should be near this counter to act as a message board.

The Pilot’s Lounge is to include:

  1. The Pilot’s Lounge should cover 1500 square feet with seating for 60
  2. Media Board – one wall with an entrance open to the public
  3. Food Cart – second wall open to a 12′-20′ food cart.
  4. The current Airport Terminal structural components are available for redesign into the Pilots Lounge.

Special Conditions

  1. Wind loading: must withstand gusts up to 60 mph and sustained winds of 30 mph.  Design proposal shall include tie downs with earth anchors.
  2. Transportation and Storage: Each component must be able to be transported and stored by a two person crew with the entirety of the Terminal able to be stored in an 8’ x 8’ x 20′ container.
  3. Ease of construction: Must be assembled easily and quickly by a small crew with no special construction knowledge or tools.  Consider construction may need to occur in high winds and with low visibility.
  4. Longevity of use: Exposed to the elements three weeks a year.  Minimum 10 year life span. Speaking of elements it is crucial to remember when specifying materials and ease of construction that the Black Rock Desert can be one of the most inhospitable places on earth with 105 degree F days, low humidity, dust storms that approach hours of white out, gusting winds, and cool nights.
  5. Orientation is an issue. Prevailing winds are usually from the South. Orientation should be flexible to account for changes in placement from year to year.
  6. Cost of materials: Maximum $20,000 materials budget, including structures, electrical, and sound; points for lower costs.
  7. Wifi:  Please consider construction and materials that will not unduly block wifi.
  8. Sound: Speakers for music and Airport announcements should be incorporated into the design.
  9. It is not necessary that the Terminal be one large structure or canopy as long as all of the design elements can be met and appropriate segues can be established between and among the parts.


The lighting scheme should be integral to the design. The primary purpose for the Terminal lighting is to showcase the structure at night to the city some 1/2 mile away. The Black Rock City Municipal Airport is only open during daylight (dawn to disk) hours for takeoffs and landings. One exception is a single night jump by the Burning Sky, sky jumpers, and therefore minimal lighting should be available for this single nighttime use of the Terminal.

The primary purpose for the Pilot’s Lounge lighting is to provide visual clarity during the day and mood lighting at night. Think rheostat.  Generally a bar is set up at one end/corner with food service from morning coffee to supper for those who contribute to the kitchen effort.  Overall power requirements should be specified.  Lighting should be energy efficient; wiring hidden as much as practical.

Art Display

Historically both the inner and outer walls of the Customs Entrant processing room have been used for the display of art. If the new design uses a counter and flow through concept rather than an enclosed room then appropriate art space should be included. Specific proposals for additional art both two and three dimensional should be included in all proposals.

Assembly Team Needs

Submissions must specify tools required for assembly, approximate hours needed for construction/set up, special materials sources, etc….

Images and Assembly manual of previous years’ Airport Terminal available here.

Submittal Requirements

All qualifying projects will be reviewed by the judges. One project will be selected as the winning proposal. In addition to the winning proposal there will be 3 or more proposals that receive ‘Honorable Mention’ . There will be a special category for student submittals, please indicate in the submittal of your contact info (see submittal process below) if you are a student. In the student category there will also be 3 or more ‘Honorable Mentions’. Receiving an award does not guarantee construction. The developers and organizers reserve the right to evolve the designs and incorporate further design considerations at any time. Credit will be given where credit is due.

On two ‘boards’ formatted to 24” x 36” size prepare a pdf file of your design and submit the following materials: 

  1. Conceptual Design Diagram(s) or Sketches,
  2. Plan Drawings (Plan view and Elevations with dimensions)
  3. 3D  perspective renderings or photos of physical scale model
  4. Description of construction process and, materials list, and itemized estimate of material costs.

Contact info of team members with your selected secret number emailed separately (see submittal process below). Indicate whether you are a student (currently enrolled in a High School, College, or University program) or a professional entrant.


The dead line for registration is Feb 5, 2013. To register please fill out the form at the the following link ?

Submittal Process

All projects are to be submitted by midnight Feb 15, 2013. Late submittals will be disqualified.  Please send a maximum of two  24″x 36″ or DIN – A1 ‘pdf’ documents to

The competition will be judged anonymously. Select a number with 4 digits and place the number on all submitted documents at least 1/2″ in size (14 pt.). In a text document to ( place your contact info and your chosen number.


Terms and Conditions

By entering this competition you agree to abide by these rules and you warrant and represent that (i) your entry is your original work, (ii) you have sufficient rights to the material you are submitting, (iii) these rights have been legally obtained and created, and (iv) publication of the material via various media will not infringe on any third party rights, including without limitation contractual rights, intellectual property rights, publicity and privacy rights, and rights against libel, defamation, and slander. By entering this competition you grant EcoLogic Design Lab the right to edit, publish, promote, and otherwise use your entry either as submitted or in edited form without further permission, notice, or compensation, including but not limited to the World Wide Web. Image credit information may need to be condensed or edited for space.


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.