Degree Received by Ball State: M. Arch
Current Employer: Phius
Title: Technical Staff
Solar Decathlon you competed in: 2019 Design Challenge
What exactly did you like most about participating in the Solar Decathlon while a student at Ball State?
The depth of analysis and exploration in the project is very cool. High performance building is like a ball of yarn, you pull on the one side, and the string you were tugging at on the other side gets sucked back into the ball. Trying to balance all the critical elements gets more difficult the more detail that goes into the project, but also becomes more rewarding. Working in a small, tight-knit team allows for each member to focus on an area of their interest and take a deep dive and brings something back to the table. This level of “realness” in terms of systems, detailing, modeling, documentation, etc is hard to come by in more “normal” architectural studio projects.
What two things did you learn through your experience with the Solar Decathlon have benefited you in your career?
Presentation skills and better using standards / codes / resources. Presentation skills are important for every path you go down in the field, and being able to explain a lot of complex, technical items in a concise and approachable manner will make for a better architect in relation to the clients and the rest of the project team. Referencing standards and protocols can be tough during a typical studio project as so much emphasis is put on design exploration, so that the design ends up getting VE’ed or shoehorned into compliance with some standard or code, but this project makes sure that the team reads the documentation first, establish the rules of the game, and then begin the exploration of the boundaries. It is important that the standards are complied with, but I am a strong believer in constraints forcing creativity.
How does a Ball State student’s experience with Solar Decathlon prepare them for leadership roles in practice related to sustainability and high-performance buildings?
The experience of having worked on a high-performance project and realizing that it is not that far off from a normal project is really important and being a team player. High performance buildings require additional analyses compared to a standard prescriptive code compliant project and having been exposed to all of those moving parts is important. But even with extra though being put into detailing, systems, glazing, etc, all the elements, forms, and components from a standard building are still there, just better tuned for performance. And with a team, working a stressful project requires management, and therefore being able to manage different types of people in his or her stress behavior builds up the leader ship skills.
Is there anything else about your experience with Solar Decathlon that you would like to tell us?
This was one of the best studios of my time at Ball State, I wish I would have had a little more time to do some design work in the project, but the experience I got was very valuable. The networking was also well worth it, meeting and discussing all of the projects with the industry professional and college students alike is one of the coolest things I have done. Touring NREL is special too. My participation in the SDDC (and former RTZ) have changed the course of my career, passions, and future.