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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Student Designs Take Top Honors in Argentina

The winning design proposal for an environmental interpretation center for the San Martin Natural Urban Preserve.

September 4, 2018

Student Designs Take Top Honors in Argentina

Rensselaer architecture students designed winning proposals for environmental center in Cordoba

Rensselaer students taking part in a study abroad semester in Latin America were recently named winners in a juried design competition in Argentina, earning first prize and three honorable mentions. In addition to taking first prize, the winning design team—which includes Rensselaer architecture student Ria Kelsick—will now proceed with the design and development of their proposal.

The competition, organized by the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba (UNC) and the Municipality of Cordoba City, sought designs for an environmental interpretation center for the San Martin Natural Urban Preserve.

“We take great pride in offering our students a variety of cultural immersion opportunities, so they can appreciate and draw upon the profound value of our multicultural planet,” said Evan Douglis, dean of the School of Architecture at Rensselaer. “Our Latin American program, in particular, represents an extraordinary opportunity for the students to see up close a unique and important architectural legacy that is quite different than their own.

“Given this larger context, we’re extremely excited to learn of the recent announcement that the Mayor of Cordoba has decided to build one of our student's design proposals as a permanent public installation. It not only calls attention to the creative ingenuity of our students, but reaffirms the larger mission of our program which defines architecture as a ‘social project’ with the larger purpose of giving something of lasting power to communities around the world.”

The Rensselaer students are taking part in a four-month study abroad semester led by Gustavo Crembil, associate professor of architecture. They worked in joint teams with students from the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba for the design competition (six Latin American students and one Rensselaer student per team), their first architecture studio exercise of the semester.

The first-place team comprises Kelsick (Rensselaer), and Sabrina Blandino, Florencia Borgia, Sonja Czeranski, Rocio Ibarra, and Agustina Franco (UNC); with Sergio Torres and Emmanuel Amerise (UNC) as team leaders.

In addition to the first prize honor, Rensselaer students Katie Cheng, Felix Reyes, and Mia Rogers were members of teams that earned honorable mentions for their design proposals.

Kelsick and her local student teammates (assisted by professional advisers) will complete the design and development as part of their architecture design studio course.

“The project is well and clearly defined,” the competition jurors wrote.  “The use of wood and structural elements as ‘pattern’ collaborate with a very interesting and attractive image. From an environmental perspective, it has a low impact on the natural context with a form that allows lower energy expenditures and low reflectance materials that are appropriate for the dynamics of plants and animals of the natural preserve.”

Study abroad opportunities like this one are an exciting aspect of The New Polytechnic, an emerging paradigm for teaching, learning, and research at Rensselaer. The foundation for this vision is the recognition that global challenges and opportunities are so great they cannot be adequately addressed by even the most talented person working alone. The New Polytechnic is transformative in the global impact of research, in its innovative pedagogy, and in the lives of students at Rensselaer.