CLEMSON – For the fourth year in a row, Master of 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 honors sustainable design excellence, and this year Clemson students produced two of the 10 winning proposals from across the country.

Photo of "Elevated Integration," an award-winning project by Clemson students George Sorbara and Hunter Harwell

“Elevated Integration,” a project by Clemson students George Sorbara and Hunter Harwell, provides a solution to Portland, Oregon’s growing number of families facing homelessness. Image Credit: Courtesy of George Sorbara and Hunter Harwell

Projects created at Clemson have received six of the 40 COTE student honors in the past four years, representing a full 15 percent of the awards presented nationwide. All student entries are judged anonymously.

“I don’t know that I could be prouder of our students and faculty for their consistent performance in the discipline’s best-known awards program for sustainable design excellence,” said Kate Schwennsen, director of the School of Architecture.

Architects play a key role 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 winning Clemson students are George Sorbara and Hunter Harwell for their project, “Elevated Integration,” and Ryan Bing and Joe Scherer for their project “Reclaim Resiliency: Dismantle. Dredge. Dwell.” The proposals were completed in the fall 2019 design studio III (ARCH 8510) taught by Ulrike Heine, David Franco and George Schafer.

“It is great to see how sustainability in all its aspects – socially, environmentally and economically – could be woven into our studio projects through the COTE Top Ten competition,” said Heine, an associate professor and assistant director of the School of Architecture.

Sorbara and Harwell’s project “Elevated Integration” sought to provide a housing solution to Portland, Oregon’s growing number of families facing homelessness. Their vision was to integrate an elevated urban highway with an all-encompassing building on Portland’s industrial Eastside capable of offering vital necessities for homeless families. The project included a two-story public market, three-story workforce development center, public library and a park.

Photo of an award-winning project, "Reclaim Resiliency," by Ryan Bing and Joe Scherer.

“Reclaim Resiliency: Dismantle. Dredge. Dwell.,” a project by Ryan Bing and Joe Scherer, reconnects Louisville, Kentucky with its riverfront, integrating permanent flood protection with mixed-income housing. Image Credit: Courtesy of Ryan Bing and Joe Scherer

Bing and Scherer’s project “Reclaim Resiliency: Dismantle. Dredge. Dwell.” focused on reconnecting Louisville, Kentucky with its riverfront, integrating permanent flood protection with mixed-income housing. The project would revitalize a neighborhood that marks an unofficial dividing line between segregated parts of the city. Their vision included providing space for a farmers market and other commercial enterprises where fresh produce, grocery stores and other retail outlets are scarce.

“These exceptional student design projects, wholly integrating and advancing design through adaptive, resilient, carbon-reducing strategies, lay an inspiring foundation for a future of architecture that protects and enhances the natural environment,” Schwennsen said.

The sixth annual Top Ten for Students competition 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.”

The winning COTE student projects will be displayed on the AIA and ACSA websites. Winning students will also receive an honorarium and online mentoring opportunities with professional architects.

Among this year’s judges in the COTE competition was Michael Horan, a 2019 graduate of the Clemson Master of Architecture program. Horan, who was one of the winners of last year’s COTE student awards, also earned his B.A. in architecture at Clemson.