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AMD unveils computer-lab design challenge

The Open Architecture Prize ties in to the chipmaker's efforts to bring computing and the Internet to more of the world's people.

MONTEREY, Calif.--Advanced Micro Devices is sponsoring a new $250,000 prize challenge that calls on architecture firms to design a computer lab for use in developing nations around the world.

Called the Open Architecture Prize, the contest was announced here Friday at the Technology, Entertainment and Design conference, an invitation-only event that draws roughly 1,000 executives, celebrities, politicians and scientists. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD set up the challenge with Architecture for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that promotes building and design services for the underserved.

Architecture for Humanity is the brainchild of architect Cameron Sinclair, who won a $100,000 grant from the TED Prize in 2006 so he could do something to change the world. He's spent that money, along with other donations, to create the Open Architecture Network, an open-source community for sustainable and humanitarian building that launched this week.

If successful, the prize could help further AMD's 50x15 initiative, a program the company introduced at the World Economic Forum in 2004 to connect 50 percent of the world's population to the Internet by 2015. To accomplish that goal, AMD must propagate learning labs, technology and connectivity in underserved nations. The $250,000 prize will be given to the architecture firm or individual with the best design of a computer lab "that can be adapted to local needs and built in communities around the world," according to AMD.

"For far too long many great award-winning designs have gone undeveloped," Sinclair said in a statement. With this prize, he said, "we are not only challenging the creative world to design innovative structures, we are going one step further and implementing the winning solution to positively affect thousands of lives."

The Open Architecture Network, launched here Thursday, lets architects and designers share blueprints and resources for improvement projects in areas affected by geopolitical, environmental or economic problems. AMD hosts the site.