Architecture Students working on a project

Sustainable architecture

"An architectural design must have soul to it," says Tom Joyce. "It must, in some way, contribute to people sustaining their existence."

For Joyce, architecture is not about money, fame or expression for expression's sake.

Architecture is about creating the right thing, at the right time, in the right place, for the right reasons, with the right materials, for the right price, with the right aspirations ... beautifully ... for people.

Joyce and other senior architect students took that lesson to heart with a recent "San Francisco Studio" in the Bay Area. Student teams immersed themselves in San Francisco neighborhoods and created an architectural element that would bolster the moods, atmospheres and cultures of the neighborhood.

With teammate Matt Drown, Joyce selected a five-block section of Octavia Boulevard. In 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake destroyed a portion of the Central Freeway that ran through the neighborhood. The freeway was never rebuilt, and the area fell into neglect.

Joyce and Drown created a mixed-use solution for eight abandoned sites, designing a complete neighborhood with a 24-hour life cycle, including shops, residential space and a park to encourage the community to come together. Their design included sustainable elements, such as natural cooling of buildings.

"Architecture requires more than problem solving," says Randy Teal, assistant professor of architecture. "It also demands taking account of the lives of people and the identity of particular places, understanding and engaging both at the most basic levels, toward the goal of creating attuned humanistic environments."

Students in the studio walked away with a new way of looking at how systems are integrated. They know how to create solutions that contribute to, and sustain, cultures and communities for years to come.

"This is a mirror of life, in general," says Drown. "We need to be sustainable in what we produce, taking care not to destroy things in existence because we have visions of grandeur."