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Architecture alumni win 3C competition

“We’re pretty excited about our work here, and the win was huge for us. It’s not easy designing a building, but it’s even harder to try and use urbanism as a platform for addressing climate change, which is exactly what our professors challenged us to do. We were encouraged to break the rules, and I think our successful collaboration as a team pushed each other to do that in strategic ways.”Lukas LaLiberté, BS 2013

Class of 2013 graduates Lukas LaLiberté, David Parker, Matthew Stoner, and Debby Yeh took home the jury prize in the 3C: Comprehensive Coastal Communities competition with their vision for resilient coastal urban typologies in Red Hook, Brooklyn. They entered the competition under the moniker Mixed Paper. Mixed Paper is a collaborative design team founded by the four young designers intended to be a platform for exploring all areas of design, ranging from architecture and graphic design to app development and beyond. They find inspiration in progressive approaches to everyday problems, and believe in the power of design to solve many of the world’s issues, both small and large. Their work has been featured by Inhabitat and e-architect.

The 3C competition was sponsored by Operation Resilient Long Island (ORLI), which was formed by students and faculty at the New York Institute of Technology in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. Both the national AIA and the NY chapter also provided sponsorship. The competition also led to the Comprehensive Coastal Communities Playbook, a publication intended to engage local residents and municipalities in the discussion of planning their towns for the future. All the finalists were featured in the publication.

ORLI initiated a global ideas design competition to “crowd-source” innovative resilient design ideas for all the communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. Some of the criteria included project location, compliant prototypical housing design and a vision for how the housing typology would fit within a community block plan.

In the spring of 2013, the Senior Comprehensive Design Studio here at Northeastern, run by Professor Ryan Salvas, asked students to propose a project for a small site in Red Hook while taking into consideration the recent effects of Hurricane Sandy. Working with their studio instructor Jason Lee, the four students decided to propose a more comprehensive solution that went far outside the boundaries of the typical prompt. The result was their project, “Adaptive Urban Habitats,” which became the basis for their submission to the 3C competition.

Their strategy was to develop an ecologically responsive development for the area that embraced the inevitability of change, such as rising sea levels, population growth, zoning, and space limitations. The students designed a wooden “kit of parts” to create a stilted construction system that could be produced locally. This approach would increase buildable space and density while keeping in mind the impact of rising sea levels. They envisioned an adaptive ground floor plan that maintains lively street level activity while providing flexibility for easy disassembly in the event of a storm.  As the neighborhood gradually begins to stilt up, the elevated outdoor areas become a connected infrastructure negating the impact of rising sea levels. As water becomes permanent with rising sea levels, the original salt marshes are allowed to return, acting as a buffer against further storm damage.

The group sees the project as a progressive urban strategy that could act as an archetype for environmentally sustainable urban coastal living. This approach could be applied to greater NYC as well as many urban area facing the threats of rising waters, with the goal of creating more resilient cities.

To see all winners, go to the ORLI 3C website.