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Practice : Winter 2009
Determined to address these concerns, students from the B oston Architectura l College decided to enter the 2009 competi- tion, this time with the goal of pushing for ward the “ Triple E’s” of sustainability, a holistic foc us on issues from the Environ- ment, to Ec onomics, to social Equity. In order to achieve this larger perspective, a search ensued for a partner who would complement the skill sets of the BAC. Our partner is Tufts University, in Medford, Ma ss. The decision to partner with Tufts was based not only on the fact that they possessed a premier engineering school but also their reput ation as a pioneer of environmental public policy and social justice. With these two powerful partners, the BAC/Tufts Consortium is a reality. The team swiftly drafted and submitted a proposal in late 2007, c ompeting with 45 other teams for one of only twenty positions allowed in the Decathlon. In January 2008, the announcement ca me from Washington: we are one of the 20. As soon as the team was accepted to the competition, a n integrated studio at the BAC kicked off the concept design process in early 2008. The c ourse wa s de veloped by BAC students themselves, and brought engineering a nd polic y students from Tufts together with designers from the BAC. It required a s eries of teams to learn to work together in order to prioritize and incorporate a ne arly endless list of broad sustainability-related issues (not to mention complicated competition require- ments) and ultimately deliver a single, clear design concept. B et ween presentation s, a series of supplementary lecture s were held to explore ea ch of the three E’s of su stainability. The lecturers included guest experts in a rchitectural prefabrication, universa l design, a nd biomimicry. While the scheduled course offered an opportunity for teams to share knowledge, the rea l work required them to meet outside of cl a ss, often cramming in time before work and classes, or staying late at offices to host design charrettes. The se me etings took place on the BAC and Tufts campuses, in local firms a nd in countless coffe e shops. Throughout summer 2008, the pool of ideas grew, a long with the pool of involved students, a nd a design workshop at the BAC worked closely with a team of interns at Tufts to begin to refine the work begun in the spring. A design team structure wa s developed to clarify the equal rel ation- ships bet ween three groups: architecture (including landscape and interior design), engineering, a nd policy. While the de sign itself wa s moving forward via specific course s a nd late-night sketch s ession s, many other a spects of the project were de veloping behind the scenes. Consistent with the competition itself, the Decathlon process is about much more than “good ” home design. A s a result, students beg an working clos ely with administrators at both schools to de velop a c omprehensive management structure for the proje ct. Bet ween budget revie ws a nd governing boa rd meetings , a c lose partnership has developed bet ween the two institution s to oversee the project. This ha s re sulted in an exciting fall seme ster, with the team funneling exten sive preparatory work into a promising project. “Evolution of Shelter” is how the Solar Decathlon team describes the design for a home that not only meets the complex requirements of the Dec athlon, but addresses fEaTURE ] SOlaR DEcaThlON The decision to partner with Tufts was based not only on the fact that they possess a premier engineering school, but also because of their reputation as a pioneer of environmental public policy and social justice. mid-term review of Spring 2008 Studio work by bac and Tufts Students pRacTIcE 39