Lawrence Tech architecture students honored in prestigious international competition

Lawrence Technological University architecture students Ying Xiao and Shengchen Yang have received an honorable mention in eVolo magazine’s 2012 Skyscraper Competition for their entry, “Occupy Skyscraper.”

Xiao and Yang’s entry was the second highlighted honorable mention. Since the honorable mentions appear to be ranked as well, they placed fifth out of 714 entries, according to Associate Professor Philip Plowright.

The top two winners were from China, and third place went to a team from Taiwan.

The project was completed in Plowright’s senior studio that has generated 10 competition placements in the past four years.
“eVolo is probably the biggest, highest-profile and most graphic-intensive, ideas-based architectural competition in the world right now,” Plowright said.

Established in 2006, the annual Skyscraper Competition recognizes outstanding ideas that redefine skyscraper design through the use of new technologies, materials, programs, aesthetics, and spatial organizations, along with studies on globalization, flexibility, adaptability, and the digital revolution. This is also an investigation on the public and private space and the role of the individual and the collective in the creation of a dynamic and adaptive vertical community. The award seeks to discover young talent, whose ideas will change the understanding of architecture and its relationship with the natural and built environments.

Xiao and Yang described their project, Occupy Skyscraper, as follows:

“Moved by the economic disparity in the United States brought to light by the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement, the designers of the Occupy Skyscraper propose creating a building that can further empower protesters and accelerate the Occupy movement. The temporary Occupy Skyscraper can be erected on any protest site to provide shelter and meeting spaces for dissenters. By providing a means for protesters to take their movement from a horizontal plane to a 3-D vertical reality, the Occupy Skyscraper strengthens and bolsters the event as a whole, but amazingly, it does so only using hemp rope and canvas.

“The skyscraper’s construction begins as soon as a protest takes place: Ropes are woven into a vertical web by attaching to and climbing nearby buildings. The webs are woven thicker and thicker until they form nets that can support weight. At this stage, the ‘building’ can be used for climbing, hanging flags and supporting sleeping bags in the vertical spaces, and can be used for gatherings on the horizontal plane. Canvas is then attached to create solid paneling to segregate space uses within the building. The designers envision several designated areas: orientation spaces, and other spots for recreation, sleeping, workshops, conferences, rallies and large meetings.

“As the movement gains in strength and more people join, the masses will continue to build out the skyscraper, adding space as needed. The height of the skyscraper reaches its peak, however, when the heights of the surrounding buildings that are supporting the ropes are met. As the protest dies down, this structure can be removed completely, restoring the urban fabric to what it was before the event.”

Lawrence Technological University,, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. Students benefit from small class sizes and experienced faculty who provide a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus include over 60 student groups and NAIA varsity sports.