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Practice : Winter 2009
The words Boston Ar chitectural College are rapidly becoming synonymous with su stainable design educ ation. C ombining our practice-based curriculum with a growing academic focus on a rchitecture and ec olog y, c oupled with the BAC’s nation ally renowned Sustainable De sign Certificate, the C ollege is creating an intense culture of highly-c apable young designers. Some of these students ha ve taken it upon themselve s to showc a se the product of this educ ational environment via the 2009 Solar Decathlon. Rather than play with the latest technologies don ated by cutting-edge res earch facilities, they’ve pledged to bring green design to a larger world and build their knowledge ba se differently... and literally. In September 2009, a tea m of student designers from the BAC will be participating in the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon in Wa shington, D.C . While the entire project will, by then, have l a sted two years, the final event takes place over a three-week period on the National Mall. It includes setting up and actua lly living in the building; judging, e xhibiting, a nd deconstructing the whole proje ct. The Decathlon challenges 20 college and u niversity team s from across the globe to develop a “positive” energy house, producing more energ y than it con sumes. The house and its de signers then engage in a series of ten c ompetitions. In addition to architecture and engineering categories, students must contend within a broad range of area s related to design such as market ability, communications and energy balance. From start to finish, students work together to successf ully address requirements from initial design concept to local construction, through full a ssembly of the house on the Nationa l Mall. It is da unting! But for se vera l of the BAC’s student project leaders, this is not the first time the Decathlon has managed to fill — what’s left of their already—busy schedules. Early in 2007, representatives from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sol ar 7 House enlisted the help of students from the BAC to move their Solar Decathlon project from the early stages of design to an actual built structure. The BAC team was e ventually responsible for tran sforming the schematic design into con struction documents, a nd provided a majority of the project’s construction management. All this was accomplished in just the final nine months of the competition. Be sides calling on the production experienc e g ained in their practice position s, these students drew upon the extensive BAC net work of academic and professional contacts to accomplish the goals of the Decathlon. After returning from that succ es sf ul adventure in Washington, D.C ., BAC students were left with mixed emotions about the Solar Decathlon. While the event held tremendous promise for educ ating a la rger public ab out solar power, it did not directly address what students felt were l arger issues of sustainability. From the perspe ctive of BAC students, sustainability involve s much more than a simple technological fix. Rather, a truly sustainable approach to a rchitecture requires a thoroughly integrated design process , one that involves more than just engineers working closely with architects . It is clear to our students that broader areas of social and public concern have been la rgely overlooked during previous Sol ar Decathlon competitions. fEaTURE ] SOlaR DEcaThlON M.Arch candidate Kevin Horne and B.Arch candidate Colin Booth, with Dean Jeff Stein bac/Tufts Solar Decathlon bac team (l–r) John harris, colin booth, kevin horne, Dennis bro and michelle Stadelman on the mall at 2007 Solar Decathlon pRacTIcE 38