Two Santa Monica College students won first place in this year’s American Institute of Architects/Los Angeles Interior Architecture Annual Design Competition.

James Butterly and Carlos Munoz will split $10,000 in prize money after competing against 36 students from four-year and two-year schools across Southern California.

“We are tremendously proud of our students and their talents, and grateful to be part of this prestigious competition,” said Denise Travis, Santa Monica College professor of interior architectural design.

College officials said Butterly and Munoz defeated students from “top architecture and design schools” such as the Southern California Institute of Architecture, Otis College of Art & Design, San Diego State University, and USC.

Contestants were given six hours to design an “unusual” project — an entertainment venue that would attract young people in their 20s, but would also secretly be used by government intelligence officials to recruit “best and bright young talent.”

The fictional venue was to be 6,000 square feet, located on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

Butterly and Munoz designed a cyber-restaurant/bar/cafÈ that included computer stations for Internet access and sophisticated video games.

The two students created a scenario in which computer game players were monitored by the Central Intelligence Agency and players who had special abilities would be invited to a VIP area to be recruited by the government.

“I could immediately relate to the assignment because I am a big fan of the television show Alias,” Butterly said.

“In our case, we wanted the space to be fun and interactive on the surface level, but we needed to tell a uniquely different story on another level through the many complex layers of intricate high-tech design,” he said.

Munoz said he believes that the presentation of their concept is what won over the judges.

“We dressed in blazers, wearing sunglasses, like the two agents from Men in Black, and we introduced ourselves as secret operatives with a special mission,” Munoz said.

Butterly is from Los Angeles and Munoz is from Santa Monica.