Architecture Students Take Top Honors in New Orleans Design Competition

Drawing for inspiration on the shipping and seafood industries, the French Quarter landscape and the traditional shotgun home, a team of fifth-year architecture students designed a uniquely New Orleans home that was a finalist in the Billes Architecture Home Design Competition.

Thomas Colosino and David Lachin, both of New Orleans, were among the five teams of finalists whose homes were honored in the international contest, which is sponsored by Billes Architecture LLC in New Orleans. Entrants came from more than 20 universities throughout the United States and Canada.

“We are extremely proud of our students,” said Dean David Cronrath of the College of Art and Design. “They continue to excel when measured against their peers, which is a testament both to the caliber of our students and faculty and the quality of our curriculum.”

The theme of this year’s competition was “New Ideas New Design New Orleans,” and it required students to design a home of between 1,500- and 2,000-square feet that could be built in Lakeview, Gentilly, or the Lower Ninth Ward, all areas that sustained considerable damage in Hurricane Katrina. Entries also had to meet the residential LEED standard for “green building,” a designation that is increasingly important as design and construction focuses more on sustainability.

For their house, Colosino and Lachin drew from several familiar sources. They looked to the shipping industry for the shipping container on which the elevated house was built, and borrowed the traditional shotgun-style design for its layout. They turned to the French Quarter for inspiration with landscaping, including lush plants that would surround the windows and balconies, and used commercial fishing materials to design the railings for the balconies.

Keeping sustainability in mind, they designed a modular home with an exterior envelope made from structurally insulated panels, or SIPs. Those are attractive for several reasons: they can be shipped to the site in large pre-sized portions eliminating material waste, they cut down on construction time and they create a virtually airtight seal leading to less heat/cool loss/gain within the building itself.

As part of their award, Colosino and Lachin will receive $1,000. Perhaps even more exciting, Billes Architeture plans to build the home they designed as well as those of the other finalists. Both students graduate in May and will continue their collaborative efforts at Lachin Oubre and Associates, a Metairie architectural firm owned by Lachin’s uncle.