WashU Team Wins NOMA Student Design Competition

Architecture students with lecturer Charles Brown.

Posted by Charles Brown October 20, 2017

From October 11-14, hundreds of design professionals and approximately 350 architecture students from over 30 colleges and universities converged upon Houston, Texas, for the 45th annual International Conference and Exhibition for the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA).

Among the attendees were six Washington University students from a team of ten who represented the Sam Fox School in the annual NOMA Student Design Competition, taking first place along with a $1,500 cash prize against 19 other student design teams from across the country. After placing second three times and third two times in previous years, we were delighted to know that our students finally received top honors.

The students were tasked with designing an 8th- through 12th-grade academy for architectural design and sustainability on a landfill in Sunnyside, the first historically independent African American community in Houston and home to the first African American licensed architect in Texas. The team created an urban architectural strategy that relied on the "Togun House" typology (later called Shotgun) to lay out the program and buildings in a way that responds to the existing context of the neighborhood.

Their programmatic elaborations included a learning garden, residences for parents and their children who would attend the school, and community spaces along a series of linear porches. The predominant construction materials were envisioned to be native to the community so that the families associated with the school could learn to construct and repair their own homes—a recognition of the original development of Sunnyside.

The WashU NOMAS Team, facilitated by lecturer Charles Brown, included the following graduate architecture students:

Ralph Harper (MArch17)
Ngoc Nguyen (MArch18)
Baoyue "Bruce" Wang (MArch18)
Tianhe Zhang (MArch18)
Jingsi Zhang (MArch17)
Siyang Liu (MArch17)

Additional volunteers and co-presenters at the conference included:

Cierra Higgins (MArch20/MUD20)
Allie Henner (BS20)
Ellie "Erin" McLaughlin (BS20)
Taili Zhuang (BS20)