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Members of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette team celebrate their first-place award in the Market Viability Contest.
(Credit: Robin Ashmore/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

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Team California gathers on the podium to receive the first-place award in the Architecture Contest.
(Credit: Robin Ashmore/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Solar Decathlon 2009

Daily Journal - October 12, 2009

Architecture and Market Viability Awards Announced!

The teams gathered in the middle of the solar village this morning to hear the announcements of the first two subjective contest awards. Emotions ran high during the suspense-filled ceremony. Many team members shed tears of joy when their schools were called.

Architecture Contest Awards

George Miller, president-elect of the American Institute of Architects, introduced the Architecture awards and jury. He congratulated all the teams for their work and focus on sustainability. "All of you are winners in our opinion," he said.

First Place: Team California

Architecture juror Jonathan Knowles of the Rhode Island School of Design introduced the winner with praise. "This project was beautiful in every respect, with excellent documentation and a crystal-clear concept. The team broke out of the box and made exterior and interior spaces appear as one. They made a series of microclimates that cannot be measured, going above and beyond the competition rules."

Second Place: Rice University

The jury lauded the house as testament to the team's desire to make a statement about the economy, saying the Rice team did "the most with less." Knowles commented on the house's minimal openings that still produced a "beautifully day-lit interior with wonderful views and sight lines through an elegant composition." The jury found that Rice offered a compelling narrative that incorporated a larger neighborhood strategy.

Third Place (Tie): Virginia Tech and Team Germany

Virginia Tech's Lumenhaus was called out as a "conceptually strong project and beautifully finished one that married state-of-the-art control systems with a dynamic exterior that buttoned the house up when cold and expanded it when warm." The jury complimented Team Germany's "technically integrated and spatially sophisticated" house that demonstrates how architecture plays a central role in energy management.

Architecture Contest Jurors:

  • Kevin Burke, William McDonough + Partners
  • Jonathan Knowles, Rhode Island School of Design
  • Sarah Susanka, Susanka Studios

Market Viability Contest Awards

First Place: University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Citing livability, marketability, and a laser-like focus on the target market of prosperous baby boomers ages 47 to 63, the jury also commented on the team's well-executed construction documents. Jurors liked that this house gives residents the ability to entertain on a large scale and live in harmony with the climate. The team member accepting the award said, "We wanted to be able to have lots of friends and family over for gumbo but also be ready for a hurricane."

Second Place: Rice University

The jury applauded Rice University for meeting the needs of a lower-income, underserved target market and simultaneously proving that zero energy can be attained at a modest price and without compromising aesthetics or functionality. What's more, the easy-to-navigate project manual provides builders the starting point they need.

Third Place (Tie): Iowa State University and Team California

Iowa State was commended for its excellent execution of an "aging in place" solution for seniors who want to downsize but need to augment accessibility. Team California was rewarded for excellent drawings, easily understood maintenance plans, and a detailed, comprehensible cost estimate.

Market Viability Contest Jurors:

  • James Ketter, Tierra Custom Homes
  • Joyce Mason, Pardee Homes
  • Paul Waszink, Construction Consultant

As a result of these announcements, Team California moved from third to first place, and Team Germany moved from fourth to second. Rice University benefited the most, progressing from sixth to third place overall. With four days left, things couldn't be tighter. Only 14 points separate the top three teams as I write this. Check back with us tomorrow for results of the Communications Contest and the likelihood of continued excitement and reshuffling of the standings.