The American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture have announced the winners of the 2021 AIA COTE Top Ten for Students competition. Each year, AIA and ACSA partner to select 10 notable studio projects that integrate innovative design strategies to achieve carbon-neutral operations. Like the AIA COTE Top Ten Awards for built work, the student projects are judged in 10 categories: water, community, integration, energy, economy, resources, change, discovery, ecosystems, and well-being.

The jury for the 2021 AIA COTE Top Ten for Students competition comprised Anannya Das of Iowa State University, in Ames, Iowa; Raymond Huff of Clemson University, in Clemson, S.C.; Yasemin Kologlu, Int. Assoc. AIA, of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in New York; Kathrina Simonen, AIA, of the University of Washington, in Seattle; and Nader Tehrani of The Cooper Union, in New York.

The Winning Projects

Courtesy Morgan Weber and Robert Conway of The Catholic University of America

Students: Morgan Weber and Robert Conway
Faculty Sponsor: Robin Puttock
Institution: The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

Juror Comments: Direction is selected as a winning design for its adaptive reuse of an existing structure to create a combined school and community center. There is a clear architectural differentiation between existing structure and the new building as they work together to reach sustainable goals. The design has a solid integration model of environmental response and carbon conscious approach. There’s an elegance to the images that clearly show the designs connection to the landscape, which are quite compelling. Overall the project design will enhance an inhabitants senses, aspirations and well-being.

Courtesy Mahsa Hedayati of Virginia Tech

Low Carbon Architecture: New Approach Toward Sustainability in Relation to Existing Buildings
Student: Mahsa Hedayati
Faculty Sponsors: Paul Emmons, Susan Piedmont-Palladino, and Meredith Sattler
Institution: Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.

Juror Comments: Low Carbon Architecture: New Approach Toward Sustainability in Relation to Existing Buildings is an impressive design with a sensitive approach to an existing structure to create a mixed work and residential building. There is clear strategy in each component of the building, which embodies a whole life carbon cycle. The design takes advantage of the materials with discipline and resilience. A very thorough design that almost packs too much into a single project.

Courtesy Daniel Mecca & Thalia Jimenez Escobar of Clemson University

Growing Together Under One Roof
Students: Daniel Mecca and Thalia Jimenez Escobar
Faculty Sponsors: Ulrike Heine, David Franco, and George Schafer
Institution: Clemson University

Juror Comments: Growing Together Under One Roof is a successful design through the effective transitional house facility for domestic violence survivors who may not have the resources needed to escape their difficult home lives. There’s a strong sense of integration between the buildings, sustainable responses and building performance. The design creates something unique in an already harsh climate by developing a community of support. The unique climate location in Alaska along with the project’s environmental solutions elevates the design.

Courtesy Paola Araya-Valdes, Juliette Paget, & Victoria Deslandes-Lyon of Université Laval

Students: Paola Araya-Valdes, Juliette Paget, and Victoria Deslandes-Lyon
Faculty Sponsors: Claude Demers and André Potvin
Institution: Université Laval, Quebec

Juror Comments: Tupikhaq is a winning design for its elegant approach to the Arctic site with a simple and clear structure to create a recreational center. The well-depicted interior shots and sections show how the structure is broken down systematically in an effortless manner. The design takes on a different approach to strategy. This extremely intriguing project is subtle in the landscape, yet sophisticated and beautiful in the details.

Courtesy Samuel Nordmeyer & Cody Goedken of Iowa State University

The Step
Students: Samuel Nordmeyer and Cody Goedken
Faculty Sponsor: Ayodele Iyanalu
Institution: Iowa State University

Juror Comments: The Step is a winning design for its sophisticated handling of the building’s environmental impact, integration with the landscape and use of timber construction to create an educational facility. There’s an intriguing complexity to the final form and overall scheme depicted in the simple plans and beautiful sections. The entire project is well designed and composed with choreographed views into the organic landscape.

Courtesy Ana Astiazaran of University of Arizona

Fairmont School of Art and Ecology
Student: Andriani Sugianto
Faculty Sponsor: Caleb Walder, AIA
Institution: California Baptist University

Juror Comments: Fairmount School of Art and Ecology is a winning design for going back to basics in sustainability with the project’s simple elegance. The structure felt fun and believable for kids to enjoy with beautiful renderings and intriguing design. The project well integrates climate strategies with architecture that reflects the climate along with a good assessment of the environmental matrix.

Courtesy Ana Astiazaran of the University of Arizona

Undefined Boundaries
Student: Ana Astiazaran
Faculty Sponsors: Michael Kothke, AIA, Laura Carr, Darci Hazelbaker, and Jonathan Bean
Institution: University of Arizona
Collaborators: Brian Farling, AIA, Shawn Swisher, AIA, and Amanda Schwarz

Juror Comments: 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. The desert setting of the building is contextually appropriate for rammed earth construction with the incorporation of a passive strategy of thermal mass. The design has a clear tension of light and heavy clearly shown by the great use of scale and passive strategies.

Courtesy Ryan Cooper of North Carolina State University

Nags Head Costal Discover Museum
Student: Ryan Cooper
Faculty Sponsors: David Hill, Andrew Fox, and Ranji Ranjithan
Institution: North Carolina State University

Juror Comments: Nags Head Coastal Discovery Museum is a winning design for its daring and speculative approach to nature into a North Carolina coast. Through the comprehensive analysis and detailed plans, the design speaks to the landscape in a graceful way. The design has a clear landscape agenda that is well thought out and integrated into the sustainable approach to the entire project. Both the building design and the environmental responses are sophisticated and well developed.

Courtesy Caroline Roux, Guillaume Couture, & Rosemonde Gadoury Salvail of Université Laval

Students: Caroline Roux, Guillaume Couture, and Rosemonde Gadoury Salvail
Faculty Sponsors: Claude Demers and André Potvin
Institution: Université Laval

Juror Comments: Nuuttuq is a winning design for a cohesive balance of climate, orientation, programmatic clarity, and elegant presentation in a cultural and sports center. The design integrates passive strategies from all four seasons along with the changing climates. The building design has great program clarity and well incorporated and developed environmental responses.

Courtesy Edda Steingrimsdottir & Jonathan Ng of Harvard University

Urban Mutualism: A Mushroom Farm In a Factory
Students: Edda Steingrimsdottir and Jonathan Ng
Faculty Sponsor: Jeannette Kuo
Institution: Harvard University

Juror Comments: Urban Mutualism: A Mushroom Farm In a Factory is a winning design for its overall scheme of a well-articulated building with all of the parts of the building working together. There is a high level of sophistication in this project with all the building functions integrated into the sustainable response. The design is not just how architecture integrates sustainability, but the function within the building and its programmed spaces.

See past winners of the AIA COTE Top Ten for Students award here.