EV Charging Infrastructure Concept Wins 2023 Forge Prize

CHICAGO – A concept that would use structural steel to reinvent gas stations for electric vehicles has won the American Institute of Steel Construction’s 2023 Forge Prize.

LVL (Level) Studio collaborators Jeffrey Lee, Christopher Taurasi and Lexi White won the $10,000 grand prize in a YouTube livestream Thursday. They worked with Christian Crosby, senior vice president of Schuff Steel, to refine their Electric Oasis vision and make the process of bringing it to life in steel more efficient.

The judges pointed out the team’s approach of turning an ordinary task into a destination event.

“You’ve taken something very mundane that we give not a second thought to usually and injected a certain level of magic – not just waiting for the charging, but also what you can do with that time,” said Forge Prize judge Melanie Harris, who is the national healing practice director at BSA LifeStructures. “We’re all looking for efficiencies in our life these days, and the last thing we want to do is wait around and do nothing while we wait for our cars to charge.”

The team noted that the time it takes to recharge is one of the primary differences between gas and electric vehicles.

“On average, a gas stop takes around seven minutes to refill a tank,” Lee said. “A level-two charging station, which is the most common type, takes upwards of four and a half hours for a full charge. We have an opportunity to reimagine the gas station typology into something that can revitalize the local economy.”

The team’s vision is for motorists to relax, work, play, shop or, perhaps, even get health care services while their vehicles charge – all activities that offer new economic opportunities for small communities around highway interchanges.

“This is a vehicular kind of society,” said Forge Prize judge Rona Rothenberg, noting that it’s applicable to a vast number of sites across the country. “This is a great way to reuse what we already have and transform it into a resilient, sustainable and lasting solution.”

LVL (Level) Studio was one of three finalists in the competition.

Pictured at top: LVL (Level) Studio’s Electric Oasis EV charging station concept. Image courtesy of LVL (Level) Studio.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.