Architecture Students Offer Their Take On Concrete Thinking For A Sustainable World

More than 80 contestants across the globe submitted design ideas for Concrete Thinking for A Sustainable World, an international design competition challenging

More than 80 contestants across the globe submitted design ideas for Concrete Thinking for A Sustainable World, an international design competition challenging architecture students to explore innovative applications of concrete and other portland cement-based materials. U.S. and Canadian entries took top honors this year in a field that also included submissions from Mexico, India, Japan, and New Zealand. In all, students from 23 universities took part in the second annual competition sponsored by the Portland Cement Association (PCA) and administered by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA).

Winning students, their faculty sponsors and schools will receive cash prizes and software totaling nearly $50,000. Included in the prize package is pcaStructurePoint, concrete design software with a retail value of $9,745. Among first-place winners, Henry Louis Miller from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., was recognized in the component category for use of portland cement to neutralize the negative impact of materials, such as post-consumer-waste plastics or toxic soil, that would otherwise be sent to landfills. In an essay titled Clean-up: Dirt Built/Cement Made, he details a remediation and renewal program Û both financially feasible and environment friendly Û that involves combining cement with contaminated soil to make bricks suitable for building projects.

Winning first place in the structure category was a team from Universite Laval in Quebec, comprising Gisele Fraser, Daphnee Van Lierde, and Mikaelle Rolland-Lamothe Û authors of the Riverbank Filter. Their design for the new Science Center of Quebec at a former maritime construction site uses concrete walls inspired by the terrain to connect architecture and the environment. Part of the building extends into the river to promote passive heating and cooling. The team designed a linear front using visual, thermal and acoustic elements to create unity within a multi-faceted environmental setting.

Second-place honors went to Grahm Balkany, Illinois Institute of Technology, for Green Concrete. Third-place winners were Francois Riverin, Sylain Lagace, and Philippe Lafrance-Boucher of the Universite Laval for PLAiNsight. Honorable Mention was awarded to Corentin Fivet, Oklahoma State University for Shotcrete to Sustain Italy. Also cited for Honorable Mention were Anabel Arsehault, Gabrielle Nadeau, and Olivier Boucher of the Universite Laval for Matricial Interface.

Four professionals convened in Washington, D.C., earlier this summer to select winning and honorable mention entries: David Shepherd, AIA, PCA director of sustainable development; G. Martin Moeller, Jr., senior vice president and curator at the National Building Museum; Debra Oakley, assistant professor architecture, University of Maryland, and committee member of the Building Technology Educator’ Society; and, Terri Boake, associate professor of architecture at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, and president of the Society of Building Science. This contest builds awareness about the important role that concrete plays in sustainable development. Concrete’s durability, energy efficiency and versatility make it an ideal building material for sustainable design, says Shepherd.

ACSA will feature winning submissions in a summary publication available on its Web site, Prize-winning projects also will be exhibited at the 2008 American Institute of Architects national convention in Boston, May 15-17, and at the 2008 ACSA annual meeting in Houston, March 22-30.