CLEMSON – For the third year in a row, Clemson Master in Architecture students have been recognized by the American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (AIA COTE). Each year, the COTE Top Ten for Students competition celebrates sustainable design excellence, and this year Clemson students produced two of the 10 winning proposals from across the country.

"Acclimate," pictured, is a project by Clemson University students that turns a parking garage into a desination with restaurants and residential towers.

“Acclimate,” a project by Clemson students Cameron Foster and Philip Riazzi, turns a parking garage into a destination that includes a wellness center, community gardens, restaurants and four residential towers. Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

Although Earth Day is a day when the average person might reflect on the environment, architects must think about the impacts of the environment every day.

Architects play a key part in addressing the effects of climate change through the design of the built environment. AIA developed its Committee on the Environment for this reason. The committee and its annual competitions help prepare students to predict needs and create adaptive and resilient structures.

The fifth Top Ten for Student Competition, “Innovation 2030,” was a partnership between AIA COTE and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA). The challenge required students to submit projects that use “a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology to provide architectural solutions that protect and enhance the environment.”

Among the winning Clemson University architecture students were Cameron Foster and Philip Riazzi for their project “Acclimate,” and Cole Robinson and Michael Horan for their project “Transfusion:  Tapering Tucson.” The projects were completed in the Fall 2018 Design Studio III (ARCH 8510), taught by Professors David Franco, Dan Harding and Ulrike Heine.

Foster and Riazzi’s project “Acclimate” dealt with the power of taking urban spaces from cars and giving them back to people. The duo developed plans to transform a three-story, 300-spot parking garage in Bremerton, Washington, into a destination that included a wellness center, community gardens, restaurants and four residential towers.

"Transfusion: Tapering Tucson" is a project by Clemson students that transforms a parking lot into housing units and retail stores in a design that reduces heat.

“Transfusion: Tapering Tucson,” a project by Clemson students Cole Robinson and Michael Horan, transforms a parking lot into housing units and retail stores in a design that reduces heat. Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

Robinson and Horan’s project “Transfusion: Tapering Tucson” acknowledged the Arizona city’s harsh climate and turnover rate for citizens. With its low sun angle and dry heat, Tucson faces two significant comfort issues. The students’ project transformed a current parking lot into housing units, single-family housing, a grocery store, a coffee shop and a bookstore. The areas incorporated carefully planned courtyards, cooling ponds and a tapering structure, all to help with cooling and temperature control.

“In the end, we believe we presented a compelling experiment for what the future might look like in an urban environment, while trying to create architecture that is environmentally sustainable, economically feasible, socially inclusive and aesthetically beautiful,” Riazzi said.

Their projects will be displayed at the annual AIA Convention in June in Las Vegas and published on the AIA and ACSA websites in honor of Earth Day.