Need help designing a puzzle/skill challenge.

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So my friends and I are all playing a campaign right now where we alternate DMs every session, so we can each throw in some of what we want into the mix.  I'm designing a dungeon delve involving an ancient dwarven city full of automatons, sort of Skyrim style.  I want to make the final 'encounter' in it more of a problem solving challenge than a fight, and could use some help designing it.  I was thinking there would be a treasure vault at the end, but when the party opens it, or tries to, a failsafe activates that starts a self-destruct of the whole city.  I want some sort of puzzle or similar to try and stop the explosion but I'm not sure on how, so I could use some input.  Thanks in advance. 
If you were hoping for something a little more complex:

1) When they open the door, they activate the failsafe for the treasure room which contained the important book/scrolls/magic etc that the locks were protecting. The treaure is being destroyed per round, and the characters have to save as much as they can by judicious use of skills.
Risk: The players feel cheated because no matter what they do when they open the door they cannot prevent the treasure loss, so they cannot get 100% win.

2) The treasure is a person, and they have to convince the person to flee - or extract them forcefully. If you wanted it more complex, you could say that if the person falls unconscious (say by being knocked out or dead) then the city's power source fails, or the psionic dam that the person created disappears. Something bad (you get the idea). This could go down the route of a skill challenge, or just some interesting RP.
Risk: Morality arguments might slow down the adventure if it gets too risque' or deep & meaningful.
I did a trap-ridden dwarven one-off a few weeks ago. Lots of mechanisms, but a regular boss fight.

How about this: final encounter is in a large space divided by columns and dividers. Some move and some do not. There are pressure plates scattered about. Standing on one causes a specific column to move, lift, rotate, or otherwise open one avenue and close another. Players and enemies can use these tactically to separate the opposing party, create avenues of attack for melee fighters to approach or missile fighters to shoot through, or activate area-based traps (fire, darts, poison cloud).

Once the live enemies of this encounter are finished off, the treasure is accesible. The failsafe releases an automated monster or elemental which can only be destroyed by a specific method in the room. For example, there is one well of deep water, which the players have already danced around during the battle. A fire elemental is released when the treasure room is breached and the players must taunt or drive it into the well. This requires them to use their positioning and the pressure plates again. Hope they learned them well the first time.

If you want the city to self-destruct, release some minor enemies to chase the party and institute a timed environmental threat. Let the players move through the area, fighting as necessary, but set a timer on your phone or computer. When the timer goes off, something bad happens. I did this recently in a collapsing mine. Every d4+4 minutes, my phone alarm would go off. No matter whose turn it was, I would drop four d8s on the table. Any mini that got hit took as much damage as that die indicated. Of course, you could keep your dice from winding up on the floor and simply have them all roll saves vs rockfall, but when the party is doing a little too well, nothing lets off DM stress like physically throwing dice at your players.
I recommend mixing the skill challenge with the combat to make it more dynamic. Sometimes a skill challenge on its own can fall flat.

What happens if the PCs fail the skill challenge? 

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The treaure is being destroyed per round, and the characters have to save as much as they can by judicious use of skills.


Right now I'm designing 'Vault of the Ancients'-style treasury in 5e with similar concept. The party opens the door to the Vault, and one round later some sort of Guardian awakes. The 'Guardian' (this may be golem, swarm of poisonous insects, just plain water flooding the area) gradually makes the parts of the room unaccessable, so the party will have to act quick. Along the room dozens of magic items are scattered. 5e have nice system for unique magic item generation, so I'm going for at least 10*(number of players) pieces of magic gear, maybe more, with intent that each player will only have time to take 3-5 of them.

Each item is represented on the map with a piece of paper that states it's type (probably a pictogram of sword, dagger, armor etc), quick description like 'longsword with wavy blade or red metal, with tongues of flame engraved on it' and its weight. Player is only allowed to read it (look at the item closer) if the character is close to the item, otherwise he sees only the type of the item and its aura if its visible, and he has 6 seconds exactly to decide if he wants to keep it or move along (there are racks and armor stands in the room which will allow to look through several descriptions at once).

I haven't yet fine-tuned the details, but this carnaval of looting will continue for a few rounds, until the players escape the Guardian (it doubt that it will be possible to defeat him, at least not this time). After getting to the safety, they will actually cast Identify on the items they got, and only then they will know if there is something actually usable/useful. I have quite understanding party, so they won't rage if I give them epic longsword, locked to be used only by a member of specific drow family, but there will be some visual clues which items they should pick, and some info they can gather before entering the Vault