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OU Architecture Students Shine in National Design Contest

A team of OU architecture students placed in the top three in a national design-build student competition in Dallas.

NORMAN - A team of students from the University of Oklahoma College of Architecture placed in the top three in a national design-build student competition at the institute’s recent conference and exposition in Dallas.   

“This latest recognition is strong evidence that our College of Architecture has reached national stature,” said OU President David L. Boren.

The sponsor of the competition, the Design-Build Institute of America, is a professional organization for the architecture, engineering and construction industry that promotes “design-build” as a project delivery method that brings together designers and constructors in a collaborative team.

“Our students are very well prepared to compete at a national level,” said Tammy McCuen, associate professor in the College of Architecture’s Construction Science Division and adviser to the Design-Build Team. “This is only our second year to participate, so we’re just gaining momentum. The competition itself is only three years old.”

The OU team members – Martin Kornhaas, Ryan Lopez, Holly Snow and Minh Tran – faced competition from 36 other university teams, including teams from California State University-Long Beach, Iowa State University, Milwaukee School of Engineering and the University of Washington.

Teams are assigned a hypothetical project and a request for a design and construction proposal, and they must use discipline-specific technical and problem-solving skills. For their project, the OU students were tasked with redeveloping a riverside power plant into a recreational facility for the Beloit College campus in Wisconsin. The project required a focus on sustainability, community needs and historical sensitivity. The team developed their proposal during the two-phase competition and, after being named finalists, presented their proposals to an expert panel.

McCuen added, “We want to move up in the rankings for this national award. As an interdisciplinary college that really promotes collaboration, it is this competition and the focus on the project delivery method that best represents our college and its practices.

“One of the things our college is known for is the collaborative environment and opportunities for students to experience interdisciplinary projects embedded within their coursework. These experiences represent real-world projects and project teams. I think that is what differentiates the OU College of Architecture from other schools.”

OU College of Architecture Dean Charles Graham said, “The design-build project delivery method is often preferred by companies, and the competition replicates the process for our students, so it is a worthwhile experience leading up to what happens in the real world. The third-place win in the national competition by associate professor Tammy McCuen and her team is proof that we have great programs in architecture and construction management.”

The OU College of Architecture’s additional recent achievements in the regional, national and international competition circuits include winning top honors from the American Institute of Architecture Students, Urban Land Institute and the American Schools of Construction/TEXO competitions.