Students take third place in national competition with high-rise design

Jackie Mantey

Graduate architecture students Andy Burbules and Chris Gaone stand with their architecture design. The design won a national award in


Credit: Jason Hall

Community living just got easier.

At least there is a design at the university that could make it that way.

Chris Gaone and Andy Burbules, two Kent State students working towards their masters in architectural design, were awarded third place over thousands of other designs in a national competition this September.

“It’s a great honor,” Burbules said.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers holds the Student Design Project Competition every year, and picks the top designs that worked around the same criteria from college students across the country, according to Jodi Dunlop in an ASHRAE press release.

The 2005 competition focused on The Brewery Blocks, a mixed-use retail, residential and office grouping of five buildings in Portland’s Pearl District, according to the press release.

The university team paired up for the competition after it was introduced in their studio class.

“We work well together and had lived in Italy together the year before,” Gaone said.

Together, they had to come up with a design that was 14 stories high and 340,000 square feet, while at the same time focusing on the living conditions of a building that also housed retail stores and offices. It would then be evaluated on anticipated operating costs, environmental impact, comfort, health, creativity and communication results, Dunlop said.

The design that the duo came up with used many different strategies to combine all of these elements, said Jonathan Fleming, assistant professor of architecture, who is Gaone and Burbules’s studio professor.

“Their design was unique due to their approach to building form given the program, the highest quality and level of development of the entry and the inclusion of a comprehensive set of technological design strategies used in a cohesive way,” Fleming said.

It wasn’t easy though, the team said. Long nights and close quarters led to a sleepless but rewarding semester.

“You have to fall in love with it,” Burbules said of the demanding schedule of an architecture student.

His teammate agreed.

“You can’t just go through the motions,” Gaone said. “There is a total of four to five hours of sleep you will get the last two months of school.”

The coffee breaks and the countless hours paid off though. The two won money from the university after 10 of the university’s top designs were sent to a regional competition in Akron and Canton, where they won first place and were entered in the ASHRAE competition.

They also won a trip to Chicago where they will be presenting a speech, Gaone said.

Gaone and Burbules, who both have degrees from other colleges, hope to work together in the future, but haven’t had a solid opportunity to do so yet.

“The hardest part about the project was working with him,” Burbules said, poking fun at his teammate. “I’ve had two back surgeries from carrying him the whole semester.”

It is hard to say what will happen with their design now that the competition is over. It is a hypothetical situation, but they could use aspects of their design for when Portland erects such a building, Gaone said.

The pair’s design was only beat out by Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Mich., and Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Ga.

Contact School of Art and College of Architecture and Environmental Design reporter Jackie Mantey at [email protected].