A project to turn a school on Detroit’s west side into a learning laboratory for sustainability is in the running for a global architecture award.
The project, called the [sw]LAB NZE Hybridized Ecosystem, was designed by studio[Ci], a Lawrence Technological University architecture and design laboratory, a team of more than three dozen LTU students, and four LTU professors in both architecture and engineering.
The project site is the Sampson-Webber Leadership Academy at 4700 Tireman Ave. in Detroit, a pre-K-through-8th-grade school in the Detroit Public Schools.
The award is a finalist for the Architizer A+ Awards in the category “Landscape and Planning – Unbuilt Masterplan.” To vote for the LTU system, visit http://awards.architizer.com/public/voting/?cid=101. The deadline for voting is April 1.
The Architizer A+ Awards, now in their fourth year, are sponsored by New York City-based Architizer, an online database for sourcing architectural services and building products.
Since fall 2013, studio[Ci] has offered LTU expertise through faculty and students to design and build a Net Zero Energy canopy structure to be part of an outdoor classroom at the academy. To test the long-term vision for the school and the neighborhood, a prototype structure will be installed to generate electricity from photovoltaics and collect water to irrigate gardens at the school site, in an area that will be used as part of an outdoor classroom.
The structure will be a solar and water collection array mounted on a pole, with eight photovoltaic panels and a rainwater transport, storage and irrigation system. The outdoor classroom – designed by sixth graders at the school, with guidance from studio[Ci], the DPS Go Green Challenge and Garden Collaborative programs — will provide hands-on learning and training in net zero energy technologies, food production, composting and recycling. Included will be six raised garden beds and a raingarden.
LTU professors leading the design project are Associate Professor of Architecture Constance C. Bodurow, who founded studio[Ci] in 2008; Civil Engineering Professor Donald Carpenter; Professor of Mechanical Engineering Robert Fletcher. And Associate Professor of Civil Engineering Keith J. Kowalkowski. College Professor of Architecture Charles O’Geen participated in 2015. Significant technical and design support has been donated by Ruby + Associates, SME, and Roncelli Inc.
Primary funding to design and install the prototype has been provided by a $25,000 Ford College Community Challenge (Ford C3) grant, which also funded the initial neighborhood-wide NZE project in 2010-12, with additional support from the deans of Lawrence Tech’s College of Architecture and Design and College of Engineering, the Coleman Foundation, and Michigan State University’s University Center for Regional Economic Innovation. DPS has served as primary partner and has provided support through lead teachers and administrators.
Eventually, a larger project is planned at the academy, including a large photovoltaic and geothermal energy farm, extensive stormwater management installations, more gardens, and more outdoor classrooms. The ultimate vision, Bodurow said, is not only to achieve net zero energy, but to generate educational and training opportunities through collaboration with the community, as well as creating new economic opportunities, and restoring the school as the hub of the neighborhood. The long-term plan is to make the school – and, eventually, the neighborhood itself — net zero energy, meaning it produces all the energy it needs through renewable sources, manages its water resources, and produces zero waste, including zero stormwater runoff. The LTU team has developed a monitoring system in collaboration with the school which could form the basis for a curriculum that will engage students in STEAM lesson plans about sustainability using the installed technologies.
Other partners in the project include the office of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, the Detroit Department of Neighborhoods District 6, Detroit Future City, It Starts At Home 48204, and the residents, parents, and businesses of the Tireman neighborhood.