Student Competition

New Winners in the 2018 Blueprint for Fuctional Sustainability Competition!

Rob Slowinski

The 2018 Blueprint for Functional Sustainability's final event took place on Friday, June 1st at REDCAT's black box theater in downtown Los Angeles, below the Walt Disney Concert Hall. In front of an audience of about 100 of their peers, the 16 finalists continued to raise the bar for sustainable design and community architectural integration.

Competition Winners Selected

Danielle Vitoff

On Friday, the finalists of the Blueprint for Functional Sustainabiltiy Competition presented to a panel of local judges. From these presentations, the winners of the competition were selected. We are proud to announce that the following individuals were awarded monetary prizes for their submissions.

First Place: Matthew Rivera

Second Place: Eduardo Martinez

Honorable Mentions: Sarahi Baeza, Kyle Ng, Parady Sarun, Christina Younger

Thank you to the judges and all of the participants for making Friday's event a great day!

The presentations from all of the finalists will be shared on the California Sustainability website during the next month. 

Competition Finalists Selected

Danielle Vitoff

On Wednesday during their final studio critique, twelve students (two from each studio) were selected as finalists in the Blueprint for Functional Sustainability Competition. Congratulations to the twelve students below who will be presenting their work to a panel of judges on Friday, June 3rd. 

2016 Blueprint for Functional Sustainability Competition Finalists

  • Sarahi Baeza
  • Shant Charoian
  • Phillip Chau
  • Ryan Han
  • Jocelyn Hernandez
  • Matthew James Dana
  • Eduardo Martinez
  • Kyle Ng
  • Gem Nguyen
  • Matthew Rivera
  • Parady Sarun
  • Christina Younger

The top designs from the finalists will be awarded a monetary prize, with $1,500 for first place and $500 for second place. The designs of all of the finalists will be featured on the Alliance website when the competition concludes.

Bon Voyage: The Last Hurrah

Audrey Kane

“When any real progress is made, we unlearn and learn anew what we thought we knew before.” – Henry David Thoreau

As the quarter is winding down, we are in the final stretch to the end. Students are putting the finishing touches on their designs. In these last strides, the goal is to move from conceptual ideas to concrete pragmatism. We are making alterations to the formal spatial relationships found in the figure-ground exercise, to livable, moveable spaces. 

At this moment in time, we are scrutinizing the palpability of the spaces created; such as the functional qualities of a space and its correlation to the program of the Orange County Marine Mammal Care Center. In the learning process, we are to articulate how the program is transformed by the site, and vice versa. The current design criteria is to employ an access to the site and how one, or animal, might traverse their way about it.  

Guest Author: Audrey Kane grew up in rural Central California. She is a fan of good coffee and traveling.

Design Progress: A Balance between Two Goals

Matt Danna

Students started the design process in an abstract way, knowing nothing of the program, the intended project, or the intended function. The design was done in a series of steps, that could either be translated literally into the design or used as a learning process. The first of these steps was a figure ground drawing that was done using a tartan grid. Figure ground in itself refers to a visual phenomenon that occurs when there is an ambiguity as to what is in the foreground and what is in the background. We tend to have a visual bias towards the figure, so by making the figure interchangeable with the background students were forced to consider both. This consideration was carried throughout all the steps as the students moved to the final problem set, a Marine Mammal Care Center. The center has two occupants, the humans and mammals, whose needs must be met without comprising the other. A balance between two goals that must be both considered

From the figure ground drawing students were asked to create a site with water and land using only the method of cut and fill. Cut and fill refers to the displacement of land, cutting the same amount of earth that you fill so none has to be removed or brought to the site. Using sustainability as a driver in design rather than a hindrance, students were asked to shade the site they created using perforated panels provided to them. The panels acted as a passive sustainable system to shade the water as well as an architectural element. Students then had to balance the sustainable aspects of the project as well as their intended design.

For the final problem set, each student presented their concept for the Marine Mammal Care Center to a panel of professors, who each teach a section in the studio. Debate of how the elements of the project: the shading structure, the building, and the site, relate to each other was one of discussions during midterm reviews. Questions on how the project related to the larger site around it and the Bolsa Chica environment were further raised

As an architect or designer, a balance between goals is essentially always the problem set (e.g.  concept vs function). How does one fully accomplish both without compromising the other in the development of architecture? The students working on their rehabilitation centers attempt to address this balance in different and interesting ways. Students continue to grapple with their projects moving into the final weeks as they finalize their design.

Guest Author: Matthew Danna is currently a second year architecture student attending California Polytechnic University, Pomona from Santa Cruz, California.

Introduction to the Site

Maverick Chen

33°41’05.3”N 118°01’24.6”W

Welcome to Bolsa Chica

History: The Bolsa Chica Wetlands have been home to many different peoples and has survived the touch of man throughout the ages. From being the home to Native Americans, to the Spanish missions, to the Bolsa Chica Gun Club, and even the discovery of oil in the region

Our site rests near the Harriett M. Wieder Regional Park in Huntington Beach, within walking distance of the parking lot. The size of the site is 196’ by 120’. The area is developing with gated communities adjacent to the site and is within walking distance from the beach. West of the site, down the road, are the wetlands now occupied by oil pump drills, but do not fret, they do not disturb the beautiful natural landscape too much. The site opens up to a beautiful panoramic scene, perfect for capturing gorgeous tableaus of the wetlands.

Guest Author: Maverick Chen 

The Care Center Chronicles: Resolving, Shading, and Programming

Marc Rudy

Second year Cal Poly Pomona architecture students, under the guidance of our studio coordinator Mitchell De Jarnett, are on the verge of completing their designs for a marine mammal rescue and care center. Other faculty assisting students on their designs include Wendy Gilmartin, Jose Herrasti, Hunter Knight, and Katrin Terstegen. The site is on the southern edge of Bolsa Chica in Huntington Beach. After visiting the Marine Mammal Care Center at Fort MacArthur, students were asked to design a center that will be used to investigate a number of basic assumptions regarding site and its role in generating an architectural project.

The marine mammal care center should have architecture that does the following:

(1) simultaneously engages notions of the particular, the systematic, and the normative which exists at the intersection of form, technique, and of circumstance.

(2) is on one level a technical endeavor, striving to achieve a specific level of performance both internally and externally operates as a ‘formal’ hinge and a ‘spatial’ filter between the external forces governing the Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve should build directly upon the experience with the grading and shading operations explored for the design of previous studio exercises.

The landscapes developed by students emerged from a figure ground study done earlier in the quarter. The figures became the pools for marine mammals as the ground became the landscape. Cut and fill was applied to each landscape to expand sustainable efforts. After analyzing the landscapes in a three dimensional perspective, a shading structure was applied to shade specific pools throughout specified time periods. Students then applied learned skills to create spatial programming based on their site conditions.

As of today, second year students have met with their studio instructors and received suggestions based on what they presented for midterm reviews. Students are now using these tips to better plan and program the spaces in anticipation for a successful final review. The students and faculty are overjoyed to be sharing our project updates with the California Sustainability Alliance.

Guest Author Bio: Marc Rudy is an accomplished architecture student, finishing up his second year. He is a current visual merchandising associate at Crate and Barrel The Grove, a digital fabrication lab operator, and an active AIAS member.

Announcing the 2016 Blueprint for Functional Sustainability Competition

Danielle Vitoff

The California Sustainability Alliance, is pleased to announce the return of the Blueprint for Functional Sustainability Competition at Cal Poly Pomona. The competition will be held within the 2016 spring semester architecture studio for the second year running. Students who are interested in participating in this competition will be asked to consider holistic sustainability and the relationship of the building design to occupant comfort.

Students who participate in the competition are asked to first meet all of their standard studio requirements. The Cal Poly studio professors will select two finalists from each studio class during the standard studio review. These finalists will be asked to present their designs to a group of green building professionals on Friday, June 3rd during a reception at the Energy Resource Center in Downey, CA. The student with the winning design will receive a $1,500 award, while the student with the second place design will receive a $500 award. All finalists’ submissions will be featured on the Alliance website.

Through the competition, students are asked to consider the tenants of sustainability, specifically in relation to passive systems on the building site. The students are asked to consider the inclusion of energy efficiency, water efficiency, occupant comfort and regenerative design in their final solutions.

The Alliance understands that the consideration of all of these topics is challenging for even the most experienced architects. The Alliance does not expect each student to “exceed expectations” in all categories, but to focus on one or two categories of interest and push the design the furthest in these areas. However, the final solution should be framed from the point of view that buildings are built for occupants and that occupant comfort is a central tenant in any design. Whether the comfort of building occupants is achieved through active or passive design solutions has a significant impact on the resources that are needed to operate the building in perpetuity.


Congratulations to the 2015 Blueprint for Functional Sustainability Competition Winners

Danielle Vitoff

On Friday, June 5th the Alliance held a final judging event to choose the winners of the 2015 Blueprint for Functional Sustainability Competition. Fourteen finalists were chosen from the seven, second-year and first-year-graduate studios at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. The students in these seven studios were designing a Residential Environmental Science Campus for Joshua Tree National Park, to explore the needs of an actual project that is underway ( The program included 26,000 square feet of built space and outdoor areas that enhance learning and connect to the park. Beyond their studio requirements, the Blueprint for Functional Sustainability Competition asked participants to consider holistic sustainability at the deepest level, specifically in relation to the following question:

How do you move beyond sustainable design to design strategies that ensure sustainable operation?

Judges representing Southern California Gas, the local green building community, and the “clients” (individuals working to raise money to realize this project) reviewed the fourteen finalists designs during an action packed afternoon. The judges were so impressed with the work of the students, two honorable mentions were selected to be recognized, beyond the planned first and second place. Hiba Charek, second year, received the first place award and $1,500 towards her tuition, for a design that recognized that the primary user of the Residential Environmental Science Campus were students. Josue Soma, second year, received the second place award and $500 towards his tuition, for a monumental design recognizing the desert environment. Linda Marton, first-year graduate, and Karl Kachele, second year, both received honorable mentions and $250 each towards their tuition.

For more information on the finalists and competition winners, please visit: