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Association News

TCA Announces Winners of International Design Competition - The Sustainable Coffee Shop 2009

Wendy Ward, Constructive Communication, 1/12/2010

Mt. Vernon, Iowa (Jan. 12, 2010) -- The Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA) – a non-profit international organization that serves to expand and improve the use of Tilt-Up as the preferred construction method – has announced the winners of The Sustainable Coffee Shop 2009, an international design competition.

Students in the field of architecture, currently in graduate or undergraduate programs, were invited to present conceptual designs for a new coffee shop in an urban market, specifically designed with emphasis on practical sustainability using site-cast concrete Tilt-Up panels.

The competition sought to challenge entrants to creatively develop a new business model that will respond to changing market conditions and become a new standard for coffee shops. The owner sees this new project as a potential prototype, which may be utilized across the country. He wants the coffee shop to be sustainable (LEED certified) and built with Tilt-Up concrete. The building will be used, itself, as an educational tool, where individuals, groups and perhaps even a group of students can take a brief tour to learn about sustainability.

“The ability to inspire new generations of designers to understand the incredible flexibility of Tilt-Up is the primary goal of this program,” states Jim Baty, TCA Technical Director. “Since its inception, we have seen nothing short of exceptional creativity from the body of submissions as a whole demonstrating the free-thinking that the student design community maintains. This will only continue to serve our industry well as these bright and talented individuals make their way into the design profession.”

Entries were received from several colleges and universities. A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign student won first place and two students from University of Memphis received second and third place along with five honorable mention distinctions.

Judges this year included a registered architect from a highly reputable Tilt-Up design build firm; a registered architect from TCA staff; an owner of a coffee house chain in the southwestern U.S.; and a registered architect from an experienced Tilt-Up firm in Maryland. The following criteria were used to evaluate the submittals:

  • Creative/Aesthetic use of Tilt-Up concrete in the design solution
  • Tilt-Up concrete design – contribution to sustainable solution
  • Quality of overall concept, design, layout
  • Overall sustainable solution

The first place winner was Robert Brainard from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His solution to the problem described in the project information is based largely on the ambiguity of the project criteria. Since a specific site in Phoenix was not considered, he chose to create a structure that would work on any site. Early in the design process, Brainard looked more closely at the eight sites to ensure that his design would be successful in any orientation.

“The other large influence on my final solution was the sustainability requirement,” said Brainard. “My building employs several standard sustainable design elements as well as a few less common ones. For example, rainwater collectors are located on the roofs to store gray water. Also, solar panels are placed on the south facing roof to generate a portion of the power requirements for the building. Solar gain is controlled by large overhangs to shade critical areas on the south and west facades. Much of the building is day-lit effectively from large windows.” He also has a central area with several subsidiary spaces, so the overall form of the building takes the shape of a pinwheel with the coffee bar as the central focus. Also, of mention, the parking lot has a section for electric cars to plug in.

The second place prize went to Jennifer Thompson of the University of Memphis who focused on the creation of a vertebrate wall to utilize the Tilt-Up concrete technology in a new and innovatively sustainable way. Its 1,700–square-foot interior/exterior inhabitable space is a compact design, yet is full of light and free flowing space. Upon entering the coffee shop, either from the north wall entrance or green patio entry, one gets a sense of connectedness. The building is designed so that from any perspective, it is possible to feel engaged with your fellow green coffee person while feeling secluded in “your space.”

“The vertebrate wall is the primary backbone to the entire design that embodies not only aesthetic quality, but also all the primary functions of the facility as well," said Thompson. “Whether enjoying a cozy read in the west wall lounge on a late spring night or sipping on a tasty drink enjoying the cool fresh air on the green patio in early summer or fall, there is a season and space for all who visit the Sustainable Coffee House.”

Designed to focus on natural ventilation through the use of stack ventilation, cross-ventilation and evaporative cooling panels, Jennifer Barker of the University of Memphis won third place for her Bean Green Coffee House. The building panels will be kept wet with a drip system that feeds off of rain water collection tanks in the top of the thick wall. Sustainable features also include a low impact permeable paving surface for the parking lot, recycled metal roofs and an ETFE roof made from recycled plastic.

The design concept began with the idea of internalizing the concrete walls as a way to exhibit the aesthetic capabilities of Tilt‐Up. “The walls manifested themselves into two distinct features ‐ a thick utilitarian wall with embedded‐rock faces, and a thin wall with smooth, tinted surfaces,” said Barker. “Where the two walls come together, at the very heart of the building, is the location of the coffee bar. The bar takes a circular shape in order to address each program area and becomes the generator for the shape of the exterior circular walls. Centered over the coffee bar is a tall vertical cylinder that serves as a stack for ventilation and a defining billboard element.”

In addition to the top three projects, five additional projects received the honorable mention distinctions. The honorable mention project winners are as follows:

  • Alzbeta Bowden, University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Jared Logue, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
  • Stephen Smallidge, Alfred State, SUNY College of Technology, Alfred, New York
  • Adis Talic, Universität Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany
  • Tanase Nicoleta, Spiru Haret University, Faculty of Architecture, Bucharest, Romania

“This third consecutive year of the TCA Student Design Competition has evidenced a considerable increase in the comprehension of the Tilt-Up structures and the application to designs,” said Baty. “The judges were very impressed with the quality of submittals and the fact that so many students gave the time to understand sophisticated details of the Tilt-Up process.”

TCA Student Design Competition 2010

Next year's competition will be a unique opportunity combining the exciting program and the potential for construction of a selected project. The TCA will co-sponsor next year’s competition with the Tennessee Concrete Association to deliver a state-of-the-art training center at their new concrete complex. The project is to achieve no less than LEED Gold and is idealized to achieve the LEED Platinum rating. Students will be asked to provide meeting and presentation space, service facilities including food preparation, connection to the new Tennessee Concrete Association office and incorporation of outdoor break and supplemental meeting space. The project is described best as the new “Learning Lab” for this state’s concrete future. More information is available at the website for the Tilt-Up Concrete Association and will be linked from the site for Tennessee Concrete Association,

About TCA

TCA was founded in 1986 to improve the quality and acceptance of site cast Tilt-Up construction, a construction method in which concrete wall panels are cast on-site and tilted into place. Tilt-Up construction is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, combining the advantages of reasonable cost with low maintenance, durability, speed of construction and minimal capital investment. For more information about the TCA visit