Students’ innovative designs sweep waste museum contest

Ahmed Ali

A conceptual design for a Houston museum skinned with sheet metal refuse from automotive manufacturing and conceived to enhance public awareness on the environmental impact of waste, earned Yingzhe Duan, a Texas A&M [Master of Architecture] ( student, first-place honors and $1000 in a fall 2016 contest.

The competition, opened to Texas A&M College of Architecture students, challenged participants to design and render a 27,000 square-foot venue for the Houston Museum of Waste. Guidelines called for the building’s envelope to be made from “offal,” the automotive industry’s term for refuse sheet metal. In particular, offal is consistently sized, high-quality galvanized sheet metal created on assembly lines when windows and other car parts are stamped from body panels.

Duan’s winning structure includes a simple, open floor plan, with an offal and glass skin giving the building an airy, translucent appearance.

“She integrated offal in a way that had a positive, direct impact on her concept’s architectural aesthetic,” said Ryan Jones, associate partner of [Lake|Flato Architects] ( , who chaired the competition jury. “The offal envelope design was functional, practical, and replicable.”

The competition, seeking unconventional solutions for architectural and building products, was organized by Ahmed K. Ali, assistant professor of architecture at Texas A&M University, in collaboration with the [U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development] ( and additional partners from industry and academia.

Additional contest sponsors included [General Motors] ( and [Zahner] ( , an internationally acclaimed engineering and fabrication company that creates custom art and architectural systems for noted designers around the world.

“Students should be commended on the elegant work they produced in the contest,” said Jones. “Many projects showed extensive abilities in areas outside of the primary interests of this competition and we want to assure those students that their ideas were noticed and appreciated.”

All designs recognized by the jury were created by graduate architecture students.

The jury commended Panwang Huo’s second-place entry for his inclusion of an elaborate design of structural and daylighting systems for the museum. The third-place entry by Tianchan Nie, garnered jurors’ praise for its integration of offal into systems for collecting water, producing energy and growing vegetation. Huo and Nie earned $500 and $250 in the contest, respectively.

Designs by Jason Teal and Shellie Saqib were recognized with honorable mention honors by the competition jury, which also included co-chair Kendall Clarke ‘14, a Master of Architecture graduate and an intern with [Corgan Associates] ( , and members [John Bradburn] ( , global waste reduction manager at General Motors; Gary Davis, director of marketing, Zahner, and [Andrew Mangan] ( , executive director of the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The contest was one of several annual competitions Ali has organized to stoke students’ independent design thinking.

In a 2015 competition, Jaechang Ko, a Master of Architecture student, captured first place, designing a one-story community center with three exhibition/gathering spaces on a lot near downtown Bryan where two of the city’s oldest buildings are located.

posted February 21, 2017