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2010 AIA Education Honor Awards Program

Porchscapes


The American Institute of Architects announces the Education Honor Awards to recognize the achievement of individuals who serve the profession as outstanding teachers. The awards celebrate excellence in architecture education as demonstrated in classroom, studio, and/or community work, or in courses offered in various educational settings. All courses, initiatives, or programs completed within the last five years and that have not previously received an AIA Education Honor Award are eligible for consideration.

 


    2010 AIA Education
    Honor Awards Jury


    Judith Kinnard, FAIA (Chair)
    Tulane School of Architecture
    New Orleans

    Paul D. Mankins, FAIA
    Substance
    Des Moines, Iowa

    Brett Roeth
    American Institute of
    Architecture Students
    Washington, D.C.

    Monica Ponce de Leon
    Office DA, Inc.
    Boston
    Taubman College of
    Architecture and Urban
    Planning
    University of Michigan
    Ann Arbor, Mich.

 


    Jury Comments

“The projects encompass all scales of
the built environment, from fenestration
details to regional watersheds.
Furthermore, the students engaged
community members and local design
professionals to create an impact
beyond the studio.”

“Outstanding model for how to tie
urban design issues with cultural
paradigms at an architectural scale.
Remarkable quality to the project as a
whole.”

 


Stephen D. Luoni, Assoc. AIA, UACDC Director, Professor

Jeffrey Huber, UACDC Director, Adjunct Asst. Professor

Aaron Gabriel, Former UACDC Director, Adjunct Asst. Professor

University of Arkansas Community Design Center (UACDC)

In Porchscapes, the studio objective was to design a demonstration project that combines affordability with best environmental practices as designated by the U.S. Green Building Council. Located in the Ozark Plateau, this forty-three unit housing development is a pilot LEED-ND (Neighborhood Development) project to be built for $60/sf plus $2.3 million in infrastructure costs.

For the student contribution to this project, Porchscapes was offered as an elective studio to fourth and fifth year undergraduates at the University of Arkansas Community Design Center (UACDC) during the 2007-2008 academic year. The project involved two different aspects: an architectural component whereby architecture students designed a connectable variety of related housing unit structures within an urban plan, and an ecological engineering component that focused on achieving ground-breaking new results in drainage and sustainability. It is a pioneering Low Impact Development (LID) project, employing a network of rainwater gardens, bioswales, green streets, wet meadows, etc. to clean water through biological processes without the use of conventional and costly engineering solutions like curbs and gutters. This biological treatment network employs smaller neighborhood groupings developed as subwatersheds, which combine hydrological services with open space design.

As part of an interdisciplinary team of architects, landscape architects, and civil engineering professionals, the architecture students developed neighborhood plans and house prototypes for small-lot groupings. The challenge was to create a high-value, green neighborhood from modest one-story structures (to be built by volunteer community labor) at double the density of surrounding four-unit per acre zoning. Collaborating ecological engineering students modeled pre-development hydrological inputs and designed the LID infrastructure mentioned above with calculations culminating in a five hundred page drainage report. Collaboration methodology followed a green neighborhood pattern, or transect, integrating “context-production” components (i.e. house, porch, yard, street, open space), which would otherwise be developed and financed autonomously. After the design was completed, the project received development permits, and has already received national awards in architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, and the ecological sciences. The team is in the process of publishing a supplementary LID Manual for Urban Areas for adoption by the state’s natural resources commission.

 

   

The goals of the studio and program were extensive: establishing awareness of LEED-ND and Low Impact Development (LID) planning principles, and their implications for architectural development of buildings; providing affordable housing types that embody LEED-ND standards with particular attention towards enhancing environmental and social capital in neighborhood development; establishing new design competencies in “context-production” where aspects like finance, ecology, sociology, and engineering become part of the architect’s awareness; and successfully completing work products that outline a precedent analysis for neighborhood systems and housing typologies at a design development level, along with completion of publications to be used to enhance design intelligence in the future.


The student studio consisted of two major parts: Part I: Precedent Analysis: Patios, Courts, and Terraces, and Part II: Neighborhood Patterns and House Design for LEED-ND. In the first part students collectively researched housing pattern languages and their connectivity to create shared streetscapes (breezeways, patios, etc.). “Activity Diagrams” were employed to study frameworks of living that connect interior/exterior, public/private, architecture/landscape, and pedestrian/automobile. Building from this, the second part of the semester required each student to employ affordable housing planning metrics and LEED-ND criteria to design one-story prototypes (free-standing and attached) as neighborhood building components to be reconciled with the LID network. Connectivity between structures proved to be a crucial idea. The four LEED-ND principals that informed this neighborhood development were density/compactness (average 7 or more units per acre), walk-able streets (front facades face public spaces like parks and plazas), street network/ access to public space and energy efficiency/ solar orientation.

In order to meet affordability demands while upholding design quality, the emphasis eventually shifted from the house itself to neighborhood infrastructure, with special respect to house frontages―porches, screened rooms, loggias, terraces, and patios. Students focused investigations on frontage standards as these components may define street space, using singular house forms without dormers, gables, and other additive volumes (for affordability purposes). The studio developed a frontage “kit-of-parts” that allowed each dwelling unit to exhibit its own unique traits in a context of “Porchscapes;” no two units are exactly alike. Patios, for instance, can be plugged onto porch edges and coupled with a neighboring unit to create micro streetscapes.

Though architecture students did not fully execute the neighborhood plan, their types were responsible for projecting fabric rules (e.g. inside/outside relations, automobile’s fit on site, site massing and building frontage strategies) to which other professionals responded. Architecture and ecological engineering students worked iteratively on their respective neighborhood components along with teaching and practicing design professionals, as well as the clients. The final proposal resulted in a new city LID code committee and the formation of a knowledge community of local stakeholders around the issue of LID and new street types.

 

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