Nov. 25, 2019 — UTSA architecture students Andre Simon and Ivan Ventura are the winners of the American Institute of Architects San Antonio Student Design Award for Transform for Storm, their proposal for an eco-hotel in Galveston that responds to the extreme environmental circumstances that define the coastal city.
Their winning proposal was selected from a very competitive field of entries by the AIA San Antonio Design Award Committee. Simon and Ventura were honored by AIA San Antonio during the annual People+Place Awards Celebration on Nov. 19 at the McNay Art Museum.
Simon and Ventura developed the project during the fall 2018 semester under the guidance of UTSA associate professors Ian Caine and Hazem Rashed-Ali, whose joint studio follows the requirements of the AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten for Students Competition.
The studio explored issues of ecological literacy and resilience through the comprehensive integration of advanced performance metrics and design pedagogy, while the combination of Rashed-Ali’s expertise in building performance and Caine’s in architectural design allowed their students to pursue these critical topics in parallel. The studio embraced the goals and methods of the Architecture 2030 Challenge, which commits that all new buildings and major renovations will be carbon-neutral by 2030.
—ANDRE SIMON, UTSA Architecture Student
“Our views of what the project should become over the course of the semester were very similar, making us a successful team right off the bat,” said Simon about his and his teammate’s approach to their project. “Ivan had a wide range of experience in graphic design and was the only undergraduate in our studio, while I had experience in building construction. Both of us showed great building design skills in the beginning weeks of the studio through our models and graphics.”
Simon credits Caine for recognizing their potential as teammates and pairing them up.
Transform for Storm responds to the proposed site of Galveston as the location of the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history. Before a hurricane in 1900, Galveston was a bustling port city on the Texas Gulf Coast and the center of cotton trade in the state. When the storm hit land it flooded the island and killed about one-fifth of the island population. Galveston would eventually rebuild the lost urban fabric and construct a 10-mile-long and 17-foot-high seawall to protect the island’s southern exposure. It is on this seawall where the students’ proposed eco-hotel sits.
The city never regained its position as a preeminent port of entry for the southern U.S., having to diversify its economy through tourism, health care, finance and education. Despite Galveston’s physical recovery, the reality of life in Galveston continues to be defined by the precarious geography and fragile ecology of the barrier island.
This project aspires to remember the past while confidently and creatively imagining the future, mediating Galveston’s environmental circumstances through efficiency, adaptability and resilience. In designing this eco-hotel Simon and Ventura aim to create an architecture that attends to the challenging humid, subtropical climate; weathers the increasingly severe storms that roll in from the gulf; redefines the program, function and image of 21st century leisure; achieves a powerful and refined architectural expression using limited material resources; and makes residents feel safe.
The AIA San Antonio Design Awards program recognizes outstanding built and unbuilt architectural projects by the local architectural profession and students to promote public interest and awareness in design excellence.
Submitters were asked to highlight design solutions that have made or could make a positive impact on individuals and communities affected by the project and accomplish the goals of clients and users. Projects were judged on quality of design, resolution of the program or idea, innovation, thoughtfulness and technique.
Simon and Ventura were praised by the jury for their “project’s sensitive exploration of how design can address the challenges of coastal habitation, offering hope for our shared future.”
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