UTSA architecture’s Isaias Coronado, Daniel Rodriguez honored in AIA COTE Student Design Competition

(May 2, 2016) -- The American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (AIA COTE), in partnership with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), has selected an architectural proposal by two University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) students as one of ten winning entries in the prestigious 2015-16 AIA COTE Top Ten for Students Design Competition. A jury of national sustainability experts honored Isaias Garcia Coronado (pictured at right) and Daniel Rodriguez Suarez (pictured below), both undergraduates in the UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning, for their proposal titled “Banding for Knowledge,” which can be viewed on the ACSA website.   

The competition was highly competitive, with over 400 entries from across the United States and Canada. The winning projects will be exhibited at the AIA Annual Convention in Philadelphia, PA (May 2016) and the 105th ACSA Annual Meeting in Detroit, MI (March 2017). Architect Magazine also recently published the winning projects online. Coronado and Rodriguez’s proposal emerged from a design studio led by UTSA assistant professors Ian Caine and Dr. Rahman Azari.

“We couldn’t be happier for Isaias and Daniel, who worked tirelessly on these drawings for five months,” Caine explains. “Their winning submission offers a sophisticated integration of structure, landscape and environmental systems, delivered with a refreshingly direct approach to form-making that is as powerful as it is pragmatic. These young designers are positioning themselves as future leaders in the critical areas of building performance, adaptive re-use and and environmental sustainability.”

The competition jury agreed, commenting that “[t]his engaging project’s reuse of a readapted big box store is a brilliant environmental solution that can be an example for many locations. The students successfully erased the lines between indoor and outdoor by setting up a rhythm of both building and landscape manipulations to the existing conditions that naturally leads people in and out of the building and site.”

The competition recognizes ten exceptional studio projects that seamlessly integrate innovative, regenerative strategies within their broader design concepts. The program challenged students to submit projects that use a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems, and technology to provide architectural solutions that protect and enhance the environment.

“Banding for Knowledge” reimagines a prototypical Walmart Neighborhood Market in San Antonio, TX as a Neighborhood Branch Library. The city will add one million people to its population by 2040, making it one of the fastest growing in the nation. The site offers an opportunity to develop adaptive reuse strategies while giving back to the community by teaching them about sustainability, gardens, recycling, and other strategies that will contribute to the 2030 Challenge for San Antonio. The project could be a prototype for the hundreds of vacant Walmart stores in the United States.

Coronado and Rodriguez’s design reduces the carbon footprint of the building while repurposing the structure, foundation, storm sewer and parking infrastructure. It also increases site permeability and the amount of green space, collects runoff rainwater, and integrates sophisticated energy-saving solutions such as sunlight control and automated lighting sensors. The introduction of native plants on site reduces runoff while eliminating the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in order to improve local water quality. The project also creates new social opportunities for the community by providing improved outdoor spaces, easy access to bike racks, and increased shading and shelter for pedestrians.

The ten winning projects are listed below, with the faculty sponsor, project title and respective university. All winning projects can be viewed on the ACSA website.

Nicole Chavez


Tim Schneider

Faculty sponsor: Gerald Gast


University of Oregon


Daniel Rodriguez Suarez

Isaias Garcia Coronado

Faculty sponsors: Ian Caine and Rahman Azari

Banding for Knowledge

University of Texas at San Antonio


Vaama Joshi

Shirin Monshipouri

Faculty sponsors: Margaret Ikeda, Evan Jones, Adam Marcus

Inverted Ecologies

California College of the Arts


Mengwei Liu

Anastasia Sysoeva

Faculty sponsor: Ulrike Passe

The Living Link

Iowa State University


Jessica Nutz

Faculty sponsor: Kyoung-Hee Kim

Charlotte’s Sustainable Cooperative Center: Extending Charlotte’s Cultural Corridor

University of North Carolina at Charlotte


Lacey Aley

Alex Collins

Addison Estrada

Faculty sponsors: Bill Leddy, Marsha Maytum, Roger Ota

Regenerating Water Avenue

University of Oregon


Laura Sherman

Faculty Sponsor: Edwin E. Akins II

O2O4W: Oxygen House in the Old Fourth Ward District

Kennesaw State University


Erin Barkman

Emily Latham

Faculty sponsors: Carl Bovill, Peter Noonan, Jordan Goldstein

Creativity Sustaining Community

University of Maryland


Kejia Zhang

Xiaoxi Jiao

Faculty sponsor: David Strauss

The Art of Eco: Seattle University Integrated Visual Arts Center

University of Washington


Rafael Berges

Jared Clifton

Faculty sponsors: Margaret Ikeda, Evan Jones, Adam Marcus

Augmented Tides

California College of the Arts