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Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 6:51 pm | Fair 55º


High School Architects Imagine the Future

Competitors challenged to transform school gym into a senior center

Architectural Design Competition winners
Allison Larinan, left, Annebel van der Meulen, Sullivan Israel, Blanca Diaz and
Vivian Zhan.
Architectural Design Competition winners Allison Larinan, left, Annebel van der Meulen, Sullivan Israel, Blanca Diaz and Vivian Zhan. ( Linda Wang)

The Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara recently held its annual High School Architectural Design Competition in Santa Ynez and Los Olivos. Fifty-one students from eight schools competed in the two-day event.

Their challenge was to re-imagine the Santa Ynez High School gymnasium, transforming it in plan, section and elevation into a mixed-use senior center.

Annebel van der Meulen, a senior from Dos Pueblos High in Goleta, took first place; Blanca Diaz, a junior from St. Joseph's High in Santa Maria, took second; and Sullivan Israel, a sophomore at Laguna Blanca in Santa Barbara, came in third.

Two Honorable Mention awards went to Dos Pueblos senior Allison Larinan, and Vivian Zhan, a junior from Dunn School.

Van der Meulen's name will be engraved on the competition's perpetual trophy, joining the names of past winners dating back to 2003. The trophy will spend the coming year at Dos Pueblos High School.

The competition and initial judging took place in Santa Ynez Valley Union High School's gymnasium on Feb. 28, followed by a juried review at the Dunn School Library on March 4, where the prizes were awarded.

Students spent seven hours in the gym designing a hypothetical independent-living retirement community featuring eight rentable units and a variety of supporting spaces, all to fit inside the gym.

Jake Niksto, one of the competition's organizers, said the design problem is relevant today because of the focus on aging baby boomers as well as on aging infrastructure.

"There has been a growing trend of senior citizens spurning the idea of an isolated seniors-only retirement home in favor of living situations that allow them to maintain an independent lifestyle that is actively integrated with their surrounding cities and communities, yet still have some relief from the responsibility of daily chores," Niksto said,

The design problem required competitors to envision a retirement community integrated into the high school, becoming its new neighbor, requiring students to incorporate classrooms into the site as well.

One portion of the competition was a "charrette" where the high school students were given seven hours to create their design. Competitors had to design spaces, walls, ramps, roofs, and other architectural features using pencil, paper, T-square and triangles.

They were asked to draw first- and second-floor plans, and a third drawing of their choice, either an elevation, section, or enlarged plan of a typical living space.

Drawings were scored by how well the student solved the design problem, and by the quality of presentation.

Judges were Jim Davis, principle of Wade Davis Architects in Santa Barbara; Annette Fair, principal of Moulinie Designs in Santa Maria; and Carrie Carlson, a recent graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's College of Architecture and Environmental Design, and a past winner of the competition.

One of the challenges posed by the competition program was the requirement to fit more space into the old gym than its area, necessitating a second floor.

The program was written by Niksto, principal of Becker Henson Niksto Architects in Santa Barbara and former competitor. He won the competition in 2000.

David Goldstien, lead organizer of the competition, said "The project was deceptively simple but very difficult to solve in a way that incorporated all, or at least, most aspects of the design program."

The judges selected 12 finalists who had four days to prepare a 4-minute presentation on. Standing in front of their drawings, each finalist pointed out important design features to a jury that included architects and architectural educators.

Allotted seven minutes to ask questions and comment on the drawings and the design solution, the jury then had to write comments and score each finalist.

Judges were Brian Hofer, architect and member of the Architectural Foundation's Board of Directors; Mary Andrulaitis, principle of NMA Architects in Carpinteria; Michael Lucas, associate dean at the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Cal Poly; and JoAnn Moore, lecturer at Cal Poly in architecture.

Asked to explain why Van der Meulen won, Hofer said her "plans were smartly and elegantly laid out. The second-floor plan was an extremely sophisticated and architecturally rich layout incorporating private and common spaces.

"And she was the only one who developed the low roof into a roof-scape garden," he said.

The high school design competition has taken place for 26 years, originated by David Goldstien and his wife Linda Goldstien, with vital support by the Santa Ynez Valley Rotary who provided the equipment, lunches, snacks and labor for the event.

As it has done for a number of years, Graphic Systems in Solvang donated printed materials to support the charrette.

"Rotary and Graphic Systems do more for this competition than people realize," said Goldstien.

— Jeremy White for Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara.


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