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NU Architecture students have strong showing at ReGEN Boston Competition

UPDATE: Congrats to Elizabeth + Ben for taking
2nd place at the competition!

Also-congrats to Lama Bitar, 4th year architecture major who entered the competition as part of team from Fennick McCredie Architecture. They took 3rd place! Details and images of their project can be found on the FMA blog.

This year, three undergraduate students from the School of Architecture have been selected as finalists at ReGen Boston, an international competition sponsored by the Boston Society of Architects. Entrants were challenged to re-imagine traditional housing typologies in order to provide new platforms to promote community living, sustainable urban living, urban family housing, affordability and sustainable growth. Students Elizabeth Dame, Ben Greer and Nick Guertin have all been chose as finalists.

(L) Ben Greer (C)Elizabeth Dame (R) Nick Guertin

The challenge put forth was to design an innovative yet practical multi-unit style housing typology on one of two city-owned lots. This approach is one that is very familiar to our students as they deal with this approach to design from their first semester in studio. Studio projects are based on actual site throughout the metro area and students must learn to think and design creatively in the face of limitations and complications presented by these locations.

Elizabeth and Ben submitted to the ReGen competition as a team. Their submission, Urban Coastal is a 200 unit mixed-use development proposed for Sargent’s Wharf in Boston’s historic North End. The project was designed to create strong connections between building residents and the community, and between the site and the larger network of the city.

Being able to make the connection from studio endeavors and co-op experiences to actual design problems of the city was one that they found rewarding. As Ben notes:

It was exciting to be able to transfer some of the knowledge we have accrued during studio and co-op into this design competition. We see ourselves as reasoned designers, very interested in design that is not only innovative and forward thinking, but also practical and rational.  Our proposal is designed with the idea that “the best architecture is architecture that works. It may be convenient to ignore logistic issues such as structure, parking and economic viability, but we believe that these constraints are often times opportunities for exploration that will ultimately better the design. When we set out, we wanted our proposal to not just be a provocative image or diagram but rather a project that could ultimately be built and responded to the needs of its occupants. 

Nick’s project is an original design responding to the needs laid out by the competition: provide housing that reconnects the waterfront and the residents, while utilizing a public program that encourages and fosters relationships among community members. Ideas about soft infrastructure and urban resilience have always been particularly interesting to Nick; this competition provided the perfect opportunity to explore these concepts further. Chelsea Creek is a waterfront site in East Boston. Nick’s design proposes remediation for the previously heavily polluted area while also blurring the boundary between built and natural landscape. Using the tidal character of Chelsea Creek, the proposal creates a dynamic public space that redefines how members of an urban community utilize their waterfront.

For Nick, ReGEN provided the perfect opportunity to synthesize the experiences he has gained in the last year and a half, which all proved to be invaluable during the design process of this proposal. He further elaborates:  The exposure to landscape urbanism and waterfront infrastructure during our 1960s Urbanism Studio, learning the intricacies and pragmatic considerations of multi-family developments in our Housing & Aggregation Studio, and finally experiencing the artistic vision and genuine joy for architecture that has been so contagious during my time on co-op at Abacus Architects + Planners all played a huge part in the design process.

The School of Architecture congratulates these young designers on their success and wishes them the best in the finals. The awards winners will be announces in the coming week