Architecture students place in contest, awarded best overall

WINNING—Roberto Rojas relaxes in a hammock with fellow eam member Adam Martinez inside the "Rolling Spectrum," a structure that won them and fellow team members best design overall in an architect contest at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. CN/ Erik Luna

By Keyla Lopez

For the first time since 1978, students from the Architecture Department were awarded best overall structure at the annual architectural competition Design Village 2012 last Sunday.

The competition was held at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The winning team consisted of Felipe Oros, Adam Martinez, Mario Arana and Roberto Rojas. Another team from ELAC, along with 50 other teams from schools like Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Woodburry University, Orange Coast College and Cal State Long Beach, competed.

The competition has a different theme every year.  This year’s theme was Metamorphosis, which is based on the increasing need for adaptable architecture and flexibility in design. Each entry was required to morph into three different phases.

In phase one, “shelter,” the structure had to house the team.  In phase two, “engage,” it had to interact with other Design Village neighbors.   In phase three, “afterlife,” it had to benefit the team’s hometown community.

In order to get to the designated construction site where the judging would take place, they had to endure rainy weather and an approximately mile-long hike uphill to transport their un-built structure to the grounds.  They decided to take two trips. One for the pieces of their structure, and one for the rest of their materials.

The team of four was able to tilt their unique structure and get it to move around the grounds. “When the judges would come by or be near, we made sure to be very interactive and made sure to keep grabbing their attention. When we’d see their faces light up, we knew we had it,” Martinez said.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the group, however. They had to overcome a few bumps in the road while on their way to victory. One of them came up very early on when the architecture protested their entry into the competition by arguing that it was unfair for them to enter when they’re not members of the club and hadn’t fundraised, which was a valid argument.

The Architecture Department, however, was behind this team of students one hundred percent and supported their entry. As soon as that was cleared up and out of the way, the team went underway with their plans. “It was a lot of trial and error,” Oros said. “It was a lot of sleepless nights.”

The architecture majors, who have all completed their design curriculum, were under the instruction of James Kawahara, a professor here at ELAC who worked with them and assisted them with their approach for their competition entry. “Our original concept was different from out final product,” said Rojas.

In addition to that, the team made sure to meet with everyone they could within their department to make sure they got all the feedback they could when it came to the structure they were building. “We sought help from everyone in the department to get more ideas. It took a lot of consulting with the staff,” Martinez said. “Our final product ended up being a simplified version of our original concept,” Arana said.

The competition spanned through the entire weekend, starting the morning of Friday April 13, where the team experienced another bump in the road. “We had stayed up relatively late the previous night.  We had planned to drive up to San Luis Obispo at 2:30 a.m. We didn’t leave until about 5 a.m.,” Rojas said.

Martinez said he overslept.  “My wife said I got up to turn off the alarm and then went back to sleep. When I woke up I saw all these missed calls from my team.”

Martinez said his string of bad luck didn’t there.  As he drove up the 101 freeway to get to San Luis Obispo, Martinez got a call from his teammates telling him to look out for one of their structure’s panels had flown out the car. “Luckily, we had extra materials and were able to fix it and make it work,” Arana said.

This isn’t the only accomplishment the Architecture Department is celebrating.

Previously, a team of two students, Juan Pablo Ornate and Bernardo Rubio, won first place at the twentieth annual 1:2 Student Competition, where were they received $10,000 out of the $23,000 in scholarships were awarded.  The event was hosted by the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles Interior Architecture Committee and held at the offices of ZGF Architects LLP.

The 1:2 Student Competition was a one-day design charrette, a workshop bringing together people from different design disciplines.  It provided an opportunity for undergraduate design students from 12 design schools in Southern California, selected by their instructors, to have their ideas critiqued by industry professionals. The four architecture majors credit their success to their teamwork. “We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Rojas.

“We’ve spent about 2 years together. We were in the same classes together, so we’re pretty comfortable with each other,” Arana said. They also credit their advisor for all the help they were provided with, along with all the support they received, despite the rocky start they had. An exposition of their winning is on display in the E7 lobby.



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