2012 Witters Competition focuses on sustainable housing
April 16, 2012
The students’ mission, should they choose to accept it, was to produce a complete design project in only 24 hours.
The more than 40 students who took part in the 2012 Witters Competition – a design charrette in which student teams compete for a $3,500 prize – did not disappoint.
A total of eight teams produced a wide variety of mixed-use, high density, sustainable housing designs for downtown Gainesville.
Teams received the project details at 6 p.m. at the gallery on April 6. From that point on, they had only 24 hours to complete and submit their projects before pinning up their work and presenting to the judges at 6 p.m. the next evening.
The students raced to create solutions to bringing more life to the downtown area while producing well designed, energy efficient and beautiful units – essentially, tackling an investigation into what constitutes desirable housing in the heart of the city.
The first-place team of the Witters Competition and the winners of the $3,500 prize included: Tim Beecken (ARC), Jenna Lychako (IND/ARC), Darryl Ditzel (ARC), Max Gooding (LAE), Brittany Ross (URP), Azhar Khan (Engineering/ARC).
Their design titled “Chestnut Grove” aimed to urbanize, activate and enrich public and private life through densification. One feature includes uniting a commercial tower and residential areas with a “floating” bridge that contains components relating to a healthy body, including a recreation center.
“We focused heavily on developing not only the sustainable elements and architectural design, but the specific programs to be housed within,” Lychako said. “Along with the residential requirements of the program, we added other amenities to the site proposing a multi-use downtown block, increasing foot traffic and grounding it as an essential part of the surrounding context and community.”
Gooding, who said it felt great to represent the landscape architecture department in the competition, said that it all happened so fast that he can barely remember what it felt like at the time.
“As soon as we were released we were already playing with site layouts and forms, a quick site analysis and synthesis informed the best layout of the open space,” he said. “And from there the work moved in an upward direction.”
Beecken said that every team member had their part to do and that they all came together flawlessly and on schedule.
“The experience was very fun for all of us, there were a lot of laughs and positive energy throughout the night that kept us going and motivated,” Beecken said. “I really couldn’t have asked for a better team to do this competition.”
Having multiple disciplines within the same team was also beneficial, Lychako said.
“Our team worked well together throughout the entire design process,” she said. “Our backgrounds in different disciplines allowed each person to bring distinct information and talent to the table and I think we were able to effectively display each individual’s work as a unified whole in the final presentation.”
Ditzel, who sits next to Beecken in a current studio, said it’s a great feeling to win first place in the Witters Competition.
“Occasionally we come across something that was left over from when we were all working on the project and we each just look at each other and talk about random parts of that night and laugh for a few minutes,” Ditzel said. “It was a nice way to end my undergrad studies and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to work with my fellow team members.”
The Witters Competition was organized this year by Tom Smith, lecturer at the School of Architecture, and Ravi Srinivasan, assistant professor at the School of Building Construction. The judging was conducted by Martin Gold, director of the School of Architecture, and Robert Ries, interim director of the School of Building Construction.
Two other team awards were distributed, one titled “Honor Award – Social Sustainability” and a second titled “Honor Award – Science of Sustainability.”
The competition is interdisciplinary, as each team includes five to six students selected from Architecture, Building Construction, Engineering, Historic Preservation, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, Sustainability and the Built Environment and Urban and Regional Planning.
In the real world, architects, contractors, interior designers, planners and landscape architects interact with each other every day. In the academic environment, as students learn their specific discipline, they don’t always have the opportunity to work with the other disciplines as they will when they graduate.
The Witters Competition provides this opportunity. Each team consists of a student from each discipline in the college: architecture, building construction, interior design, landscape architecture and urban and regional planning. As each student on the team provides input regarding his or her part of the project, the team learns more about the other professions and the issues affecting their work.
Established in 1993, the Witters Competition is endowed by Arthur G. and Beverley A. Witters for a collegewide interdisciplinary academic competition to foster better understanding among design, construction and planning students.
This year, a special thanks is owed to the owners of The Top, Scott Shillington and Hal Mendez, for allowing DCP to use their site as the projected address for the competition.
Honor award winners
Team 7: Honor Award – Science of Sustainability
Katie Addicott (BCN), TJ Keiper (ARC), Justin Beinvenu (ARC), Andrew Hazen-Hamilton (ARC), Kelly Morgan (BSSBE), Kevin Priest (BCN)
Team 4: Honor Award – Social Sustainabillity
Stirling Moore (ARC), Natalie Imran (ARC), Rebecca Horn (BSSBE), Aaron DeMayo (ARC), Alex Motola (BCN), Laura Masse (IND)