Buell Center Paris Prize 2018

Buell Center Paris Prize 2018

The Buell Center Paris Prize consists of three prizes given to students at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation whose fall semester architectural design (MArch & AAD) studio projects most successfully comply with, interpret, and/or critically extend the terms and spirit of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Special consideration is given to work that combines the social, technical, political, and symbolic implications of the climate accord in an architecturally specific fashion, at multiple scales. The prize forms a part of the Buell Center’s ongoing research project, “Power: Infrastructure in America.”


The Buell Center Paris Prize jury, made up of Buell Center Advisory Board members, recognizes the following students for their compelling studio projects: 


Core I Winner: "A Green Commodity" — Nelson De Jesus Ubri, Critic: Anna Puigjaner


A Green Commodity proposes green streets that carve into the existing architecture of the Upper West Side. The objective is to imagine how streetscapes could blend with buildings around them while reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption.

Three aspects of the shared and collective in New York City were analyzed. Community gardens were researched to understand how public spaces empower local communities. The tenement typology was then analyzed to comprehend how the lack of daylight and air in interior spaces influenced the use of alleyways, bathrooms, and kitchens. And lastly, studying the value of NYC trees determined by the Department of Parks in relation to the services provided by them: stormwater interception, energy conservation, air pollutant removal, and carbon dioxide storage.


This research led to three design strategies: carving into buildings to bring in light and air, creating porous edges between green streets and the adjacent architecture, and using the financial support of developers to plant trees and finance this greening effort. 



Core I Finalist: "The Great Billboard Walk" — Yaxin Jiang, Critic: Benjamin Cadena


Core III Winner: "Self-Sustainable Micro-Community" — Ge Guo & Qi Yang, Critic: Ilias Papageorgiou


We think that sustainability lies in the lifestyle people live. We propose the self-sustainable attitude towards living: A lot of things you consume in the architecture comes from the architectural system itself: light, wind, water and food.


We transform the traditional large-scale public space into a series of domestic scale courtyards which nourish diverse activities and encourage the residents to maintain their own courtyards. People enter each unit through the roof landscape, which advocates the culture of walking and leads to a healthier and energy-saving lifestyle.


The boundary of units is not fixed. All the living space is flowing in between the fixed elements: light wells, service cores, circulation cores, and shear walls. The design approach opens myriad possibilities of space usage and each unit is unique. In this way, the built structure could achieve its best efficiency.



Core III Finalist: "Upstairs - Downstairs, Living Together on Three Planes" — Alexandros Prince-Wright & Yoonwon Kang, Critic: Hilary Sample


Advanced Winner: "ESAMo: Constructing New Grounds for Agricultural and Social Transformation in Tunisia" — Mayrah Udvardi, Critic: Ziad Jamaleddine


The Ecole Superieur d’Agriculture de Mograne (ESAMo), was built in 1952 to train Tunisians in industrial agricultural methods and cement France’s hold on the country’s agro-economy. While a building itself cannot be held responsible for international slow violence, it can reveal the intentions and unintended consequences of top-down planning. My design challenges the French framing of the pastoral and rigid delineation of the groundline, offering a phased approach to diversify agricultural production and reintegrate students with the landscape. At the center of this new program are four seed libraries, built from stone of the hollowed campus ground floor. This process of deconstruction and rebuilding will, itself, become part of the curriculum, as students, teachers, builders, and farmworkers integrate their knowledge. Over time, this collective work will become pixelated throughout the campus; the formerly static groundline will become temporally dynamic, punctuated by retaining walls, bunds and terraces for cultivation and water collection. This process can be applied to other nodes of environmental degradation in Tunisia, redistributing agency and material resources to those who have been most impacted by imperialist development and climate change. 



Advanced Finalist: "Five Opportunities for Planetary Acupuncture" — Kevin Hai, Critic: Andres Jaque