Competition yields designs for multifaceted community center

Ahmed Ali

An almost empty lot near downtown Bryan, home to two of the city’s oldest buildings, is transformed into a new, versatile community center in several designs imagined this fall by Texas A&M graduate architecture students as part of a design competition sponsored by the Coulter and Lily Rush Hoppess Foundation and the College of Architecture’s Real Projects Initiative. 

The contest, managed by Ahmed Ali, assistant professor of architecture, tasked students to design several additions to the city block-sized space, including a visitor center, an outdoor amphitheater, and a small cafe with indoor/outdoor seating for 40 people, while preserving the two old buildings — a servants’ quarter and a carriage house built in 1872.

The students’ design solutions were reviewed by a jury of faculty from Texas A&M and Virginia Tech University, as well as representatives from the city of Bryan and the Hoppess Foundation. The jurors considered how well the students’ designs integrated with the historic site and structures, their constructability, the use of sustainable materials and solutions, and compliance with American Disabilities Act.

A design by Jaechang Ko, a first-year Master of Architecture student, captured first place honors and a $1500 prize in the competition.

Ko envisions a long, one-story community center with three exhibition/gathering spaces — two at opposite ends of the building with movable walls to create customized configurations, and a middle section opening on two sides to the outdoors.

His design includes a series of gates, leading from a main entrance to the site’s amphitheater, a small reflecting pond and a large open space for recreational activities.

In addition to Ko’s winning design, the jury recognized Livia Loureiro, a Ph.D. Architecture student, and Carmen Torres, a second-year Master of Architecture student, who tied for second place, each earning a $500 prize, as well as Nathan Brandt, a second-year Master of Architecture student who earned honorable mention.

Entries in the design contest were evaluated by Joey Dunn, Bryan deputy city manager; Karl Hoppess of the Coulter and Lily Rush Hoppess Foundation, Inc.; Keith and Marie Zawistowski, associate professors of practice at Virginia Tech University and founders of the university’s award-winning designbuildLAB and Onsite, an architecture firm; Texas A&M design faculty Marcel Erminy and Shelley Holliday, and David Woodcock, director emeritus of the Center for Heritage Conservation.

The contest was the first fall design competition, sponsored by the College of Architecture’s Real Projects Initiative. In past Real Projects events, students designed and helped build a new home in Bryan’s Falls Creek Ranch subdivision and created land use ideas for university property in an interdisciplinary, weeklong charrette.

posted December 2, 2015