Battle of the Builders competition

Battle of the Builders competition

(May 1, 2018) -- In a competition organized by the Greater San Antonio Builders Association (GSABA), three student teams from the UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning (CACP) designed and constructed children’s play structures as part of the “Battle of the Builders” event at Raymond Russell Park on April 18. The free community event included music, food, volleyball, and children’s activities, while representatives from local construction companies and their partners participated in various competitions.

The CACP student team sponsored by McCoy’s Building Supply created the winning structure, which was donated to Strong Foundation Ministries for use by the children they serve. The Strong Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) Christian ministry focused on assisting homeless families with children by providing them with a safe place to live while they get back on their feet. The remaining two play structures were raffled off to community members who purchased tickets at the event. Proceeds from the raffle will fund future scholarships for CACP students.

“This structure is perfect for our little kids,” said Pastor Jim Gipson, who oversees the Strong Foundation and was one of the judges. “Some of the others were good for older kids, but I really wanted something self-contained for our toddlers. I would say the students hit a home run in every category they cared about, as the challenge is making something fun, yet safe.”

Twenty-one participating students enrolled in a Design/Build Simulation course that allowed them to communicate, collaborate, and demonstrate their leadership skills while competing to design and build a play structure with a total material cost of $2,500. The course was offered by the UTSA Department of Construction Science and was open to all undergraduate architecture, construction, and interior design students in the college. To begin the process, nine designs were judged by a panel of reviewers, while the three teams with the best designs were augmented by members from other teams whose designs were not selected. Each team prepared construction drawings, materials lists, schedules, and safety plans, then designed a member to serve as procurement specialist to contact the sponsor, secure materials, and work on delivery logistics. All team members were trained in the proper safety procedures to use the equipment required.

The teams then built each of the play structures and made required design adjustments. Several faculty from the UTSA Departments of Architecture and Construction Science served as guest speakers throughout the semester, as did Greater San Antonio Builders Association (GSABA) members and construction industry professionals. The students oversaw every aspect of making the play structures a reality, from the initial design phases to the physical construction. Upon completion, each team disassembled their structure in modules that could be moved by two people and designated a mobilization specialist to coordinate the moving of the modules to the site of the competition. The students had the opportunity improve their job marketability by networking with industry professionals throughout the process.

Monica Martinez, a double-major in architecture and construction science, served as team leader for the winning McCoy’s Building Supply group. She said her team thought about activities they enjoyed as children to guide their design. Their goal was to design and construct something modern and fun, while also considering safety, so they decided to add an envelope to the structure. Specific materials were a priority for Martinez’s team, so they negotiated with material providers and were able to lock in prices allowing them to stay under budget.

“Polygal was the material that generated attention,” said Martinez, referring to the clear sheets of polycarbonate that was used for the building envelope. “That’s what people loved about this project. We used Polygal because it lets daylight in, we were able to cut round openings for ventilation, and it allows parents to look inside the structure and see their kids are safe.”

Funds to purchase materials and successfully complete the design/build competition were provided by sponsoring companies McCoy’s Building Supply, Builders FirstSource, and 84 Lumber Company. The initiative was spearheaded by GSABA and Executive Vice President Kristi Sutterfield, who supported the UTSA Department of Construction Science in the effort.