UArizona Architecture Student Receives 2021 COTE Top Ten for Students Award for Sustainable Design Excellence
Fourth-year University of Arizona Bachelor of Architecture student Ana Astiazaran has been awarded a prestigious 2021 COTE Top Ten for Students Award for her project Undefined Boundaries. It is one of ten student projects selected from more than 800 international submissions this year to the annual competition—and one of only three winning projects by individual students (the other seven are by student teams).
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) partners with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ASCA) to offer the award, which is open to undergraduate architecture students in at least their third year from ACSA member schools in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
“The COTE Top Ten awards are the industry’s best-known awards program for sustainable design excellence,” says Melissa Morancy, AIA director of knowledge communities. “The award recognizes the best green projects by students—ten exceptional studio projects that seamlessly integrate innovative, regenerative strategies within their broader design concepts.”
Astiazaran’s project places her Collaboration Center for Innovation in Tucson, Arizona, in the context of the U.S./Mexico border and its many cultural, political and environmental parameters—including climate change—“implying how the dynamic spaces can diminish a ‘defined’ boundary,” she says. “The building pursues the goal of diminishing borders, where different aspects like inside/out, near/far, private/public and built/natural blend together to become one.”
Emerging from the “essence of the culture and history of Tucson,” the building comprised of alternative building materials and passive heating and cooling not only embraces Tucson’s hot, dry climate but also accounts for even higher temperatures expected by 2080, when Tucson’s climate and average temperatures will more resemble Astiazaran’s home of Hermosillo, Mexico, the warmer and more arid Sonoran capital city located four hours south of Tucson.
“This is a significant accomplishment,” says Michael Kothke, associate professor of practice in architecture and coordinator of the ARC 401 design studio. “The COTE Top Ten is a highly competitive international design award, and Ana is very deserving. Her creative and inspired engagement with the pedagogy over the course of the semester, as well as her iterative process and final resolution, are an embodiment of the studio’s aspiration to integrate conceptual narratives with environmental performance at every phase of a project’s development.”
This was the first year that ARC 401 considered the criteria of the COTE Top Ten competition as a compliment to the “Speculative Integration” focus of the studio, co-taught in 2020 as a single collaborative section by Kothke and fellow instructors Laura Carr and Darci Hazelbaker, along with “design-performance integration” collaborator Jonathan Bean, assistant professor of architecture and sustainable built environments.
“The competition and its Top Ten framework share a remarkable affinity with ARC 401, aspiring to define principles and outcomes for good design in the 21st century,” says Kothke. “The defining modality of the studio is all about working the overlap between imagination and facts, and between the qualitative and the quantitative. As borne out in Ana’s winning submission, this requires that each student take a position on the value of architecture in the world, with a focus on translating and composing design intuitions and strategies into results for the greater good.”
The College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture (CAPLA) was well represented, with 25 ARC 401 students submitting projects to the 2021 competition.
“Undefined Boundaries is a winning design for the versatility and adaptability in the use of rammed earth as an environmentally conscious material choice not often used to create an educational community center,” says the 2021 jury in selecting Astiazaran’s project. “The desert setting of the building is contextually appropriate for rammed earth construction with the incorporation of a passive strategy of thermal mass. Design has a clear tension of light and heavy clearly shown by the great use of scale and passive strategies.”
“I am so honored to receive the 2021 COTE Top Ten for Students Award,” says Astiazaran. “Undefined Boundaries is the first project in which I applied a sustainable approach while incorporating my own personal touch, culture and background. The award not only reflects my passion for sustainability, but also speaks to how our world requires change politically, environmentally and culturally.”
“I couldn’t be more pleased for Ana,” says Nancy Pollock-Ellwand, CAPLA dean. “The award celebrates Ana’s outstanding technical and creative abilities, her rich sense of place in the Sonoran Desert and her dedication to building a more just world. It also recognizes the holistic, innovative approach to design that we teach at CAPLA—and that’s thanks to Michael and our other School of Architecture faculty members.”
COTE Top Ten winning students receive a $500 stipend to attend the 2021 AIA National Convention, where they will be recognized at the COTE reception.
View a gallery of images from Ana Astiazaran’s Undefined Boundaries below, and learn more about all winners of the 2021 COTE Top Ten for Students Competition.
Undefined Boundaries: Collaboration Center for Innovation in Tucson, Arizona | Ana Astiazaran '22 B Arch
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