Recently, we had a chance to sit down with Architecture graduate student Donovan Linsey to talk about his experience participating in the American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (AIA COTE) Competition in Fall 2019.

Donovan is from Houston, Texas. He moved to San Antonio to receive a Bachelor of Science in Architecture at The University of Texas at San Antonio. After graduation, he moved to Norman to attend the University of Oklahoma. He is enrolled in a Master of Architecture Program in Gibbs College of Architecture. He currently serves as a Board Member of the Central Oklahoma Chapter in the position of AIA Associate Director and Chair of the Associates Committee.

The AIA COTE Competition that Donovan participated in is required for the Graduate Architectural Design 3 Studio course. Donovan’s project was titled The Nest. It is a didactic tool that teaches the community about resiliency through its architecture, while serving as an environmental educational center. The building acts as a catalyst for its surrounding context responding to a deeply vegetated, unique site which informs its users of their symbolic relationship.

This drawing showcases how the building protects by employing a storm shelter and revitalizes the community by creating connections to the new bike and walking paths. It acts as a didactic tool and informs its users about the natural environment.

The competition asked participants to respond to ten sustainability measures set within AIA’s Framework for Design Excellence. The measures include: Integration, Community, Ecology, Water, Economy, Energy, Wellness, Resource, Change, and Discovery. The issues and questions raised from these measures encompassed how sustainable strategies should be implemented in the design of the project and how innovative programming opportunities could satisfy the manner in which the building responds to the comfort of its occupants while considering the local climate and site conditions.

An illustration of the project coming to life.

Donovan’s favorite part of the project and competition was having the opportunity to grow his design by thinking about the details and smaller scale components in the project. He enjoyed working on aspects that related to thinking about how certain materials come together and connect with each other, while following the ten sustainability measures discussed previously.

Even though Donovan did not win, partaking the competition was a great learning experience. He enjoyed his time in the studio while completing the project, and studying under the direction of Professors Daniel Butko and Sam Callahan during the Fall 2019 semester. His project was even recognized by the AIA National’s social media, which is an amazing accomplishment.

The Tweet of recognition from AIA National.