Detroit Mercy SACD students awarded for work

In a fierce display of innovation and talent, three Detroit Mercy students from the School of Architecture & Community Development have achieved a prestigious spot in the Top Ten winners of this year’s American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (AIA COTE) competition. Students Marcus Puste, Dolin Diaz and Farah Ossaimee have made their mark on the architectural world with their new project, “TIMBR.”

The AIA COTE Competition is conducted in collaboration with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA). This competition acknowledged 10 design studio projects created by students that displayed a commitment to environmental sustainability. The victorious entries were awarded a cash prize of $1,350, with over 1,100 projects submitted for consideration in this year’s competition. These three students formed a team that achieved one of the spots in the 10 by demonstrating innovation and sustainable design. 

The competition aimed to promote designs that approached architecture towards more of a sustainability focus that are acutely mindful of design solutions to optimize energy consumption, carbon emissions and the social ecology of the structure. 

 “Three months after the winners have been announced and it still genuinely feels surreal,” Ossaimee said. “It is still quite difficult to wrap my head around the fact that among many universities throughout the nation and the world, we were chosen among the top 10 projects that best represented an architectural project designed from the lens of sustainability and equity.”

The winning project, titled “TIMBR,” meaning Timber Integrative Means + Biophilic Resilience, is very distinct on its own. The team described the project as having an exterior double-skin facade. Its one-of-a-kind pattern was intricately designed as a response to the harsh glare received at the corners of the building. As a response, wood was integrated into the pattern as a means of shade and is mainly concentrated at the corners of each facade of the building. Not only is the double skin a celebratory, identifying element of TIMBR, but it also aids with the stack ventilation of the building and promotes heat gain during the harsh winter months of Detroit.

When asked what drove their success, the team credited their achievement to a variety of key factors. Ossaimee expressed her gratitude for “supportive, knowledgeable, honest professors who know how to guide you.” She emphasized the importance of effective communication within the group stating how clear communication and shared values ended up being a critical role for the success of the project. 

Working alongside her team members made the experience enjoyable and reinforced where she claimed that the project was “strengthening their bond and enhancing the excitement of working together.” 

The success of the team in the AIA COTE Top Ten highlights its extraordinary talent and commitment to fostering sustainability and innovation in the field of architectural design. TIMBR sets a high bar for the future and inspires others to think more consciously about the relationship between our environment and our structures.