LSU School of Architecture students have won honors at a national design competition yet again: Bryce Humbrecht, BArch 2022, won third place in the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) 2022 Steel Competition for his project “The California Shotgun House.” The third year in a row that LSU architecture students have placed as winners in the national competition, Humbrecht’s faculty sponsors for the project were professional-in-residence Gary Gilbert, associate professor Kristopher Palagi, and instructor Tara Street.
Administered by the ACSA and sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), the program is intended to challenge undergraduate and graduate students, working individually or in teams, to explore a variety of design issues related to the use of steel in design and construction. Steel must be used as the primary structural material and contain at least one space that requires long-span steel structure, with special emphasis placed on innovation in steel design. The ACSA 2022 Steel Competition winners included architecture undergraduate students from across the United States.
Humbrecht’s innovative project received high praise from the competition judges. “The California Shotgun House is a structurally sound design that brings forward an inventive solution for needed housing,” the ACSA jurors said. “The signature architectural elements on the façade with the wide columns are both functional and expressive. The student took a holistic approach to the structural creativity and made the graphics visually compelling.”
“This project was the product of my final semester’s studio work and the culmination of what I learned from my five long years at LSU,” Humbrecht said. “Early in the fall semester, our professors gave us a site in Napa California which straddled a creek and sat between a suburb and a vineyard. Our only solid guideline was to design housing on this site and to do it with a particular focus on the material of steel.”
He divined inspiration from a Louisiana architectural standard, the “shotgun” house, which inspired the title for this California adaptation, The California Shotgun House. “Through data-driven climate research, I discovered buildings in this region of the world actually require heating just as much, if not more, than cooling. As a Louisiana native, this information was very exciting to me as I’d hardly even thought about how to design a building to stay warm… With careful consideration of all the factors effecting the site, I developed a design which achieves multiple goals while acting as one cohesive system.”
Humbrecht had fun with the creative project. “For me every aspect of this project had to be bold and risky,” he said. “There’s a certain freedom in school that is enjoyed by very few designers in the real world. Here, and in our imaginations, we are not limited by budget, client demands, or any other restraints that would make building a project ‘realistic.’ This being the final semester of my final year, I determined early on that whatever I designed, had to take advantage of this unique freedom design. This attitude permeated throughout my process as I pushed myself to create a design and graphical style which I felt was uniquely exciting.”
“Encouragement from my section professor Gary Gilbert and my other two professors Tara Street and Kris Palagi saw me through to the end of this project. Putting full energy into a fifth-year project at the height of senioritis is not easy and I truly have them to thank for keeping me on track. I’m very grateful to be placed among the excellent designs submitted from across the nation for this design competition.”
“I’m proud to be able to represent our school like this on a national level. I truly couldn’t ask for a better conclusion to my time at LSU and to this era of my life.”
He has always loved that architecture is a “truly practical art,” Humbrecht said. “It has a definite use, it is absolutely needed, and at the same time it can be elevated to achieve far more than just keep out the rain. A carefully crafted space can illicit the entire range of human emotions while simultaneously serving very pragmatic needs. It is the backdrop for our memories and the setting for our lives. It both defines culture and reflects it. It’s something that every one of us at every level has a real stake in.”
“Good architecture, and good design in general, I honestly believe can solve any problem. Furthermore, who wouldn’t want to pursue a career where creativity is the product?”
At the moment Humbrecht is working full-time in Baton Rouge as an architectural associate. “I’m very excited to be pursuing my long-time passion of preservation while working on projects like the restoration of Louisiana’s State Capitol building as well as Louisiana’s Old State Capitol Building. These places are so important to the people of Louisiana and to what defines the state and city. It’s honestly a dream to be able to study these beautiful buildings in such detail and ensure that they remain available to the people of Louisiana for years to come.”