Four Architecture Students Awarded by CT Green Building Council

Architecture students Andrew Petersen ’20, M’21, Eric Cantar ’21, M’22, Brandon Fuentes ’21, M’22, and Wes Moody ’21, M’22 represented the University of Hartford at the 2020 CT Green Building Council annual awards this fall. The virtual event, held on October 29, 2020, recognized each of these students and their work in two key categories.

Petersen was recognized with the Student Design Award of Honor for his work, Hartford Lift Tower. He was previously recognized in the 2019 awards in the Student Design category. Petersen described his project being “located on the empty lot in Constitution Plaza in Downtown Hartford, Conn. The building is a mixed-use (retail on the bottom, offices on the top) skyscraper. The tower features a lifting concept that is evident on the front facade; each mass of office space is lifted above open terracing spaces below.” Petersen says he was excited when he heard his project earned the highest honor this year. “It felt like a reminder that my architectural skills are growing and that I am not stuck at one level of skill,” he says. 

Petersen says he would not be where he is today, or would have been able to create such a project, without the influence of two faculty members: Stephen Harris and Seth Holmes. Harris, who served as an adjunct faculty member in the fall of 2019, was Petersen’s design studio professor for the project that was honored. “He helped me with everything from planning, massing, details, etc. He was able to provide a very professional approach by sharing experiences from Pickard Chilton, where he worked. Petersen continued to share that Holmes, an associate professor, was always willing to help him with the mechanical/passive systems of this building. “We discussed at length the MEP, HVAC, and sustainable systems of the tower. He also had me create energy models of the building to predict how the building would perform in terms of its energy consumption.  By doing this, I was able to optimize features of the building to lower its carbon footprint on the environment.”

Cantar, Fuentes, and Moody were all recognized under the Student Design Award of Merit category for their individual projects, all entitled Pompeii Archaeological Laboratory. The students were thrilled to have learned their project was being awarded by such a prestigious organization. Fuentes set a goal for himself during his semester abroad in spring 2020 to develop this project with “precision and as detail oriented as possible to produce a project that deserved to receive this award.” Sharing the news with his parents that he achieved his goal was quite a memorial experience. The students explain the goal of the project was to “to design a laboratory to house artifacts as well as display them, creating a bridge between modern sustainability and antiquity.” Fuentes notes, “This lab preserves and showcases previous artifacts while providing the opportunity for local study, analysis, and storage of newly found artifacts in Pompeii.”

Cantar shares, “I wanted to make a structure that emulated all of the beautiful elements associated with the buildings in Pompeii, such as materials, form, columns, and even the door and window placement. Then, I wanted to take those elements and design modern- day active and passive building systems around them. The way I see this project is that it is almost like a time warp. It is what I think a building in the Roman Empire would be if it still existed today. That is why I used structures from that time period, as well as ours, as precedents.”

Moody adds that the project did have some challenges that helped them critically analyze their design. For instance, “being able to relate our design to the ancient ruins as well as incorporate a sustainably friendly mechanical system and design” was a unique challenge to overcome.

Fuentes notes it took dedication, critical analysis, and hands-on learning to determine how to create a modern design with such historic elements. “Recognizing these ancient design methods and how they operated provided the opportunity to implement modern systems and design methods into the design while utilizing those ancient design methods in a more modern way.” From studying the designs of the bath houses, to how heating the space would operate, and how the lab was able to collect water, Fuentes says he was able to create adaptable spaces to meet today’s architectural needs.

The students all agreed they would not have been able to create such a project without associate professors Ted Sawruk and Seth Holmes. Sawruk provided constructive feedback, professional guidance, fresh knowledge, and other resources for the students to create such a creative piece. He was also the faculty member to assign the project in the first place and was always available to assist in the design process. Holmes was more than willing to provide professional building systems assistance by reviewing the project metrics and sharing key knowledge on active and passive building systems.

Watch the 2020 Virtual Green Building Awards Celebration here.

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Stephanie Fengler