Natural Talent Design Competition Winners for Northern California

USGBC's 2010 Natural Talent Design Competition, in partnership with Salvation Army's EnviRenew Initiative, focused on the rebuilding effort in New Orleans. Competitors were divided into Student and Emerging Professionals categories to design a LEED for Homes Platinum project that is priced affordably and is functional for elderly occupants. Chapters held local competions, and up to four designs will be selected from these local competition finalists to be showcased at Greenbuild 2010. The national finalists will be announced August 30th. For the first time in this competition, the designers will see their projects built in New Orleans' Broadmoor neighborhood. Once the homes are built, they will enter a measurement and verification phase in which they will be graded on energy efficiency, water reuse, and indoor air quality among other categories. The design team whose home performs best during measurement and verification will be awarded the final grand prize.

USGBC-NCC held a local competition and a jury of green building and LEED for Homes professionals judged the designs and awarded winners in each category.

And the winners are...

Emerging Professionals:

Green Phoenix RisingThe first place winner in the Emerging Professionals category is Green Phoenix Rising by Justin Mikecz. This design both honors the historical context of New Orleans and symbolizes the re-emergence of the city like a phoenix rising from the ashes. The front of the home--with its deep, wrap-around porch, narrow facade, large windows, and gable roof--fits in with its Broadmoor neighbors while paying homage to the architectural history and the inherently sustainable nature of shotgun houses in New Orleans. The back of the house rises up to enclose the small second floor in a modern interpretation of the historic camelback style while also facilitating stack ventilation and daylighting; and providing roof access that would offer peace of mind for Katrina survivors. Check out the design!

The second place winner in the Emerging Professionals category is Elevated Living by Joanna Zhang, J. Alan Miller, Sabina Shiu, Eric Chang, Krista Raines, and Kezhan Cao. The Elevated Living design is a derivative of the classic camelback shotgun style composing the neighborhood. The building massing reflects the emphasis placed on the public 'living' area as a social element to mitigate the loneliness of retirement while taking into account the pragmatics of universal design. Becoming a destination in itself, the ramp is a functionally interwoven design element offering a unique experience as the user progresses from the street to the front door passing of autochthonous plants and flowing into the central volume of the residence elevated to safety above the flood line. The house has been oriented so that the side becomes the front, turned towards the neighbors in a gesture of privacy and intimacy while promoting an sense of connection with the exterior and community. The simplicity and efficiency of the shed roof reflect an economy of construction and suggest that this house is one half of a whole; that it is part of development reminiscent of the nearby double shotguns specific to the area. This connection is further solidified through the use of reclaimed/recycled materials and a sensitive respect to the environmental impact. Check out the design!

The third place winner in the Emerging Professionals category is Integrated Response by Breck Baird, Ian Wulfson, Karolina Pormanczuk, Elaine Kabala, Todd Taniguchi, and Clancy Simon. The team explained their design concept: When we think of New Orleans, the first two words that come to mind are community and liveliness. The Integrated Response house is designed to connect the public facing front porch with the more private backyard to provide a strong relationship with the community. The design also focuses on maximizing energy, water and construction efficiency throughout the house and site. The main living area takes advantage of both cross-ventilation and the stack effect in order to cool the house naturally. Working with a limited budget, we incorporated advanced framing techniques within a modular layout, eventually reducing waste through material efficiency. In order to promote healthy living to the inhabitants, non-toxic materials and finishes are primary interior features. By providing the occupants with a New Homeowner Eco-Kit we hope to educate the residents and visitors on the efficiencies within the home and how to ensure the house functions properly in the future. 

The Feng Shui House: Wind & WaterStudents:

The first place winner in the Student category is The Feng Shui House: Wind & Water by George Parra-Tozcano and Jennifer Yniguez. The team explained their design concept: The Feng Shui House is designed around the concept of good energy flow to create peace and tranquility. We focused on the idea of feng shui which translates to wind and water. Our idea is to take the two elements that destroyed the area of New Orleans and transform them into positive elements. By implementing these concepts into the design, our goal is to create a safe, inviting, and relaxing environment. We want to provide sustainable and green elements into the design to ensure a healthy and energy efficient living space. Check out the design!

The second place winner in the Student category is Fresh Endurance by Michelle Kirkpatrick, Jonathan Taylor, and Scott Lord. The main approach to The Fresh Endurance residence was to create a universally accessible home using green materials and strategies. Emphasis was placed on a comfortable living environment with definitive separation between public and private spaces. The public areas are made as open as possible to allow for easy circulation for those who may be disabled or need the open space. As for the aesthetics, the home itself has a country feel to it but with a fresh, modern twist. The name Fresh Endurance came from the idea of creating a new fresh look for the community of Broadmoor in hopes that the design will encourage the endurance of the community. Using recycled and/or sustainable materials is a key feature of this home. The same lap board siding style is used for the exterior of the building to accent the surrounding homes. As transitional pieces, the foundation wall is constructed of cinder blocks instead of the normal brick, and the shaft for the lift is constructed of recycled brick. With the common materials, a gable style roof, and an open, inviting porch to sit and chat with neighbors, The Fresh Endurance would fit nicely into the Broadmoor community.

2010 Northern California Chapter Natural Talent Design Competition Sponsor:


SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies, and for its sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. SMUD is not only committed to fostering the use of the newest energy efficiency technologies, but also to developing tomorrow’s green professionals.  As a long time supporter of the USGBC, SMUD is happy to support the 2010 National Talent Design Competition through its Savings by Design program to recognize students who apply the principles of integrated design, sustainability and innovation.

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U.S. Green Building Council -
North California Chapter

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