Published December 8, 2017
UB’s chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) recently won third place in the national Barbara G. Laurie NOMA Annual Student Design Competition. The chapter earned honorable mention in last year’s competition.
Twenty teams from around the country took part in the 45th annual competition, in which students proposed a design for the John Chase Academy of Architecture, Design, and Sustainability in Sunnyside, an African-American neighborhood established near Houston in 1910. More recently, Sunnyside has seen increased poverty and disinvestment, and local leaders are looking for ideas to reinvigorate the neighborhood. The new John Chase Academy, part of this rebuilding initiative, aims to foster relationships with the community while encouraging social entrepreneurship.
The student teams were challenged to examine a site and design space to provide residents with improved access to secondary education, opportunities for adult educational programs and places for community events. Students were asked to consider the history of the community, examine a large site in Sunnyside and present ideas for the future. The requirements included planning for new educational and athletic facilities, workspaces, a gallery and outdoor spaces.
Submissions were considered by a jury of architects and community leaders who focused on six core values: cultural expression, design excellence, community integration, constructability, sustainability and landscape.
The UB NOMAS design, titled “[WEAVING IN] Sunnyside,” integrated architecture, urban design, ecological practices and inclusive accessibility in a plan that sought to restore the large site and weave it back into the community of Sunnyside. The proposal recommended creating three separate groups of new buildings: an academic campus, an athletic center and a cultural hub.
Combining landscape restoration and gardens, workshops, startup spaces and existing facilities, the team’s design developed a cohesive fabric of activities throughout the site. A series of ecological strips were an integral part of the plan to restore natural vegetation, filter air and water, mitigate pollution and connect new buildings with the site and its community.
The design team was inspired by the UB architecture program’s Graduate Research Groups, which focus on five areas of specialty — Ecological Practices, Inclusive Design, Situated Technologies, Material Culture and Urban Design — and reflect the faculty’s expertise and funded research.
UB’s NOMAS chapter, founded in 2011, represents minority students enrolled in the School of Architecture and Planning. “It is inspiring to see such a diverse group of our students working together and developing ideas that are being recognized on the global stage. Design clearly matters,” noted Brian Carter, professor of architecture and the chapter’s faculty adviser.
Members of the NOMAS 2017 design team included undergraduate and graduate students Femi Alege, William Baptiste, Krisha Dayalan, Yifan He, Arisha Shahid, Samantha Su and Irene Turlan.