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ConVal

A Model of design

ConVal students take first place, and bragging rights, in architecture contest

  • ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

    ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

    ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

    ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

    ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

    ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

    ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
  • ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
  • ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
  • ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
  • ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
  • ConVal students Ian Farr-Szep, Mason Westover and Patrick Joseph won first-place awards at a recent contest sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Three ConVal High School juniors took on an interesting challenge last fall. For this year’s High School Design Competition, sponsored by the New Hampshire chapter of the American Institute of Architects, they were asked to design a new Submarine History Center building that could house the USS Albacore, a submarine on display at Albacore Park in Portsmouth, and related naval artifacts.

The contest called for a one-story building, respectful of the surrounding environment, that could replace an existing visitor center and would accommodate the submarine itself and also hold a gift shop, office space, exhibit and support rooms and restrooms, as well as an outdoor memorial garden and parking.

Students were asked to submit design boards with sketches, site plans, floor plans and elevations and a narrative describing the design, as well as a 1/16th-inch scale model of their project.

Ian Szep of Peterborough and Patrick Joseph of Hancock, working as a team, took first place for best overall design and Mason Westover of Peterborough was awarded first place for the best model.

Both first place awards came with a $700 prize.

“It was a really vigorous design process,” said Westover last week, as the three students took time to talk during their pre-engineering 2 class at the high school. “It was fun, but very frustrating at times. It was great to see all the work actually paid off.”

The students starting working on the project shortly after Thanksgiving, during their regularly scheduled pre-engineering class.

“We’d learned about the contest in our freshman year and we’d had it in our minds that we’d want to do it sometime,” Szep said. “This year when we got the guidelines, Pat and I decided to partner.”

Joseph said they wanted their design to reflect the theme of the submarine center.

“The main idea: We wanted to have a wavy roof,” Joseph said. “From there, we planned our exterior and the rest of the site.”

The AIANH jury that evaluated entries said of the design that Szep and Joseph submitted: “Very intriguing, dynamic form of the building supporting the submarine concept... the shallow water pools placed on the roof add to the ambiance of the submarine theme of the museum... This project is very original in concept.”

Westover’s design was also inspired by the sea.

“I had two small buildings and I wanted to make it flow,” he said. “I tried to get rid of sharp corners and have rounded edges. I made the roofline like a sail, to get the feel of the ocean.”

The jury wrote about Westover’s proposal: “One of the strongest site plans, which is well reflected in the model.... The separation between the exhibit building and visitor center is well resolved... The concept of solar sails is intriguing. This building displays a creative form.”

The students worked with Peterborough architect Len Pagano, who visited the pre-engineering class once a week.

“I was just in to give some suggestions and advice,” Pagano said last week. “They really had some great ideas and did a lot of hard work.”

Pagano’s input included giving them a realistic idea of how much work was involved, according to Szep.

“One thing we really learned was time management,” he said. “At first, five months seems like a long time, but it’s really not. From day one, Len was saying, ‘You have to keep working on this.’ His first question was ‘When is this due?’”

“We thought we had plenty of time,” Joseph said. “Toward the end, you wish you had some of it back.”

Karen Fabianski, who teaches the engineering class, said the three students needed little guidance.

“I’d never tell them what to do,” Fabianski said. “They were very good at finding inspiration. This is their second year doing these types of projects.”

The students used a CAD program called Envisioneer 9 to produce their designs and built models using butter board, a strong but pliable cardboard-like material commonly used for architectural modeling.

“We found you really have to think about your model the whole time,” Szep said. “On the computer, you can make anything, but you have to be able to model it.”

“You have to make sure that it works,” Joseph said.

Westover said he’s definitely considering entering the contest again next year, depending on the design requirements.

“This project was very specific and very strict,” he said. “It was almost cookie cutter. I’d like to be more able to do what I want.”

But they all agreed that an architect or designer usually has to work within guidelines set by a client.

“We were completely free from a budget,” Szep said. “That wouldn’t really happen.”

They all plan to pursue careers related to engineering or building.

“Not necessarily as an architect, but somewhere in this field,” said Szep.

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