For Third Year in a Row, PhilaU Students Will Represent U.S. In International Design Competition

For the third year in a row, Philadelphia University will send a team of students overseas to represent the United States as winners of the U.S. National Multicomfort House Competition.

Architecture student Lauren Printz and architectural engineering students Jason Bottoni and Dan Hitchko took first place at the Center for Architecture in New York City out of 19 teams from around the country, including architecture programs at Parsons The New School for Design, Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Massachusetts – Amherst.

Representing the U.S., Printz, Bottoni and Hitchko will showcase their design, “Il Potenziale del Sole,” in the International Multicomfort House Competition this summer in Prague.

The competition required all entrants to create a design for a skyscraper in the Greenwich South section of New York City, while meeting “passive house” standards of design — a rigorous energy efficiency standard used in only a handful of U.S. buildings.

Hitchko said that passive house standards set strict thermal and acoustic requirements and, to date, few buildings as tall as skyscrapers have been built to comply with a passive house level of energy efficiency. For their entry, Hitchko and Bottoni created a well-insulated, air-tight, cylindrical tower design with a solar heat pump, exterior glass fins and a geothermal energy system to heat and cool the building year-round. Printz helped the team create an aesthetically pleasing design and navigate the challenges of city zoning rules, traffic flow and mixed-use requirements for building space.

“We balanced each other well,” Printz said. “It was great to have Dan and Jason’s detailed understanding on the technical and engineering side, and I was able to help with aesthetics, zoning, vehicular and pedestrian traffic management and trying to connect the building to the surrounding city.”

Hitchko said that he thought the PhilaU team excelled because of the level of detail in their presentation, which included sophisticated thermal and acoustic analysis and predictions based on the building design and the specific materials selected for use in the project.

The next step for the team is to present their winning project in competition with 19 other countries worldwide on May 18. With wins on the national level in 2009, 2010 and now 2011, Philadelphia University students will represent the United States abroad for the third straight year.

“I’m very excited to represent the United States of America at the international level,” Bottoni said. “It felt incredible to go to NYU and bring back a national prize to Philadelphia University.”

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