Archive for the ‘UT SolarD’ Category

UT SolarD rockin the house

October 17, 2007 Leave a comment

so the 2007 UT SolarD team has been hard at work on the National Mall the past few weeks, and today inched up to the #5 slot!  i’m super psyched for them – they’ve put a huge amount of hard work into the project, and they deserve to do well.  hopefully they’ll be able to push up another slot, though they’re behind GA Tech by about 20 points, which will be pretty hard to make up.  the #1 and #2 slots are held by Univ. of Maryland and the German team, Technische Universitat Darmstadt, and are up by too many points to catch. the German house is really beautiful and elegant – bringing that European architectural and engineering prowess to US shores.

Categories: architecture, UT SolarD

el chilito

July 26, 2006 1 comment

while we’re on the topic of food, anyone rambling toward this blog would do well to know of El Chilito, the punky little brother of El Chile. located in what looks to be an old drive-in hamburger shack on manor road about 5 blocks east of I-35, El Chilito specializes in tacos. that’s pretty much it – delicious tacos. of course, you can get a thirst quenching limonada (lime-ade) or beer, as well as some funky fresh frozen pops, but really this place is all about the tacos. get it? tacos!

last summer as we were building the SNAP House in preparation for the Solar Decathlon, el chilito inconspicuously opened their windows (it’s walk-up, not walk-in, tho they have sheltered outdoor seating and wifi). we felt pretty sure that we were single-handedly responsible for their success as we ambled down nearly every day, sometimes two or three times, to partake in the deliciousness that emanated not blocks away from our building site. dear lord i can’t get through to you how good this place in – w/o a doubt the BEST tacos in austin.

it’s cheap, it’s fast, is fresh, it’s fantastic. it’s el chilito!

Categories: Austin, food, UT SolarD

UT SolarD in 6th place

October 21, 2005 Leave a comment

so we placed 6th place overall out of 18 competitors in the Solar Decathlon.  not bad, though not what we hoped for.  the entire week of the competition was marred by rain and overcast skies.  obviously if there was sun all of the teams would have had working systems, but i honestly feel that we would have placed top 5 for sure.  we had a huge array w/ lots of power which would have allowed us to easily drive our electric car a lot, and do well with all of the appliances.  the only real issue that we ever had was that our hot water system was broken at the start of the contest, resulting in loss of points.  aside from that, everything was related to lack of sun.  ce la vie.

so now the house is returning to austin on monday (why not sunday, when we don’t have school, is beyond me).  we must take another day off school to reassemble the house – but only partially b/c for some reason blacklands has delayed pouring the concrete foundations multiple times!  the foundations will supposedly be poured on monday, but they need time to cure, so we will unload the house and rest it on the ground instead of on its structural rails.  we will then need to rent a crane a second time to get the house properly assembled.  what should be a 2 day affair is becoming a 2 wk affair.  you’d think they’d get their shit together considering they’re getting a $250,000 house for free.

there are so many things i thought of and saw in DC that i wanted to blog about, and for the life of me can’t remember any of them.  maybe that will be one of the nice things that flock can help me out w/ – using the draft feature and the shelf to store ideas and partially completed blog entries.

Categories: UT SolarD

testing flock

October 21, 2005 1 comment

so i’m back from DC, the Solar Decathlon is over (though we still need to reassemble the house here in Austin), and i can finally get back to the rest of my schoolwork.  apparently we’re going out to fabricate a fence w/in the next hour for our alley project.

i’m also now using flock, so we’ll see how good this hyped browser is.  it’s cool that there are blogging tools built in, but i don’t understand yet why that’s better than blogging right through the web interface.  one upside is that anyone testing flock can get a free wordpress blog.  i managed to get one a few wks ago, so maybe other people can use that backdoor to their advantage.
flock logo

Categories: tech, UT SolarD

SNAP House

October 21, 2005 Leave a comment

Flickr Photo
UT SolarD SNAP House on the National Mall at the Solar Decathlon.  Notice the overcast skies…

Categories: UT SolarD

missing post

October 10, 2005 Leave a comment

i had a whole post on UT whooping OU and the insanity that ensued in the streets of austin.  i can’t remember if my browser crashed or if it is now just missing.  weird.

anyway, Solar Decathlon is now in day 3, although it appears that data logging only started today.  we took 4th place in the architecture competition and 3rd place in dwelling.  virginia tech is cleaning house, and they do have quite an impressive looking house from what i can tell.  a lot of other schools that i expected to be at the top of the competition are surprisingly closer to the bottom, such as Michigan, Maryland, and Madrid.  it’s heartening, though, to see us on par or better than some top-notch design schools, such as RISD.  most of these houses are really good looking.

and now i must continue work on a sukkah for Chabad.  i don’t think i’ll be able to punch out this design in time. i knew i had limited time, and may just advise them to work w/ the existing sukkah this year and wait for a new design for next year. 

Categories: Austin, UT SolarD

studio review and UT SolarD status

October 1, 2005 Leave a comment

i’ve been close to completely absent from studio for the past week and a half. my group has marched forward and developed the scheme that we brainstormed about the redevelopment of the Plaza Saltillo District in East Austin. the land to be developed is owned by CapMetro and is intended to become a high density development for the transit stop located there (pending the new commuter rail). high density = federal development funds. but we don’t really dig the uberdensity. it’s completely feigned – it’s like sticking Greenwich Village in the middle of upstate NY. density should grow organically. this density dropped in the middle of a low-income Hispanic neighborhood would – no matter what percentage of low-income housing they retain in the new development – bring in high income white people. we don’t think that gentrification is a bad thing, we support it and realize it is the natural way of the market. we just feel that this development would, in one fell swoop, hurt this neighborhood in such a way that it wouldn’t be able to retain its current identity.

instead, we did a study on Granny Flats / garage apartments, and discovered that if such development was encouraged in addition to a lower density development on the alotted land, we could maintain the same density that would be concentrated in the alotted land alone under the current design. we think our way is better for a number of reasons:

  • density will slowly and organically increase in the existing neighborhood
  • families will stay close to each other – the neighborhood is nearly 90% hispanic and highly values proximity to family.
  • granny flat rents can provide extra income to neighborhood families
  • we’ve also proposed the re-routing of a number of bus lines to converge on Plaza Saltillo. that would make the plaza a transit hub instead of just a train stop. that would provide ease of transfer to commuters, and turn the plaza into landmark.

    our design keeps the existing train tracks running through the middle of the site, and puts infill development on both sides of it. an elevated greenway will cover the train and provide access for the new Lance Armstrong bikeway as well as useable space to residents. retail is located on ground level and on the greenway level.

    now, UT SolarD: the house is completely assembled on the National Mall! yesterday evening all of the modules were successfully craned onto the rails and rolled together. today they were again rolled apart, roofs were lifted, and the mechanical chases and clerestory windows were installed. tomorrow solar panels and batteries will be installed, then evacuated hot water tubes, then zinc and trim. word is our house is looking pretty damn good!

    Categories: school, UT SolarD


    September 28, 2005 Leave a comment

    i’ve just received confirmation that UT SolarD has descended upon the National Mall and the first truck has pulled up!!!  the 2005 Solar Decathlon has begun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    UT SolarD : University of Texas at Austin 2005 Solar Decathlon Team 

    Categories: UT SolarD

    hottest. day. EVVVAAAARRRR…

    September 28, 2005 Leave a comment

    so it turns out that sunday, the day we were outside all day loading the SNAP House onto flatbed trucks, was the hottest day of the year. 107 F in Austin. end of September. 107. outside all day. really fucking hot.

    but it apparently gets better. a friend did some research. it appears that on sunday austin not only received its hottest day of the year from the sun god, but was also graced with the title of HOTTEST LOCATION ON EARTH. i haven’t verified this, but i guess its possible. death valley wasn’t as hot as austin. wtf!?

    Categories: Austin, UT SolarD

    Solar Decathlon

    September 28, 2005 Leave a comment

    at the moment i’m not indending to make this blog public, but rather keep it for myself.  however, i see that people keep visiting it, likely from the ‘newest post’ category on the wordpress dashboard.  so it might make sense to explain what exactly the Solar Decathlon is, since its pretty much the only thing i write about at this point in time.

    the Solar Decathlon is an architecture and engineering competition sponsored by the Dept. of Energy and the Nat. Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).  this is the second time the competitioni has occurred, the first time being 2002.  UT Austin was also a competitor in that inaugural round, but came in 8th overall.  i’ll explain why in a different post.  anyway, all contestants are charged w/ building a completely solar powered house, max 800 sqft, to be built and operated on the National Mall between the Capitol Bldg and Washington Monument for a period of 3 wks.  the purpose is to show the general public that solar power is a viable and affordable energy source that can be used to power a modern American lifestyle.  in reality, its not quite affordable yet, but prices continue to drop, and hopefully w/ the continued oil wars and hurricanes people will begin to understand that we have to change our lifestyles, or at least energy sources, a bit.

    i came to UT architecture b/c it had the most detailed and dedicated Sustainable Design program of the top architecture schools, but also b/c it was a participant in the Solar Decathlon.  the Solar Decathlon participation was probably my tipping point, b/c i would probably have gone to Michigan had they been involved w/ the competition.  kind of funny that Michigan actually did end up becoming a contestant for the 2005 competition…

    so i’ve spent essentially the last 2 yrs of my architectural education dedicated in some manor to the Solar Decathlon.  i believe that i’ve been on the 2005 UT team the longest, as i took part in research classes expressly for the purpose of the Solar Decathlon starting 2 summers ago.  the current team really solidified last february or march when courtney and lauren joined me to create the website and logo – the first required submission was a functioning website on april 15, 2004.  not only did we come up w/ a great logo, but we created a comprehensive educational site – way more than any other team.  that’s b/c the continued UT mission is education (2002 and 2005 made these key points of the teams’ mission).  our website contains more info about sustainable design and solar power than it does about the actual house we designed.

    anyway, last summer was an intense design session, when we cranked out the SNAP House.  we worked about 24/7 that summe, pushing out designs, energy simulations, and material choices.  those continued through the fall, and finally construction documents were drawn up this past spring.  construction began in april 2005, and continued through this past sunday, at which point we were working 24/7 again.  along the way, we secured over $250,000 in material donations, as well as a nearly $50,000 donation from BP Solar (we won a competition amongst the 18 competing teams for the most architecturally integrated solar panels).  the house is beautiful, and we’re going to rock DC, starting tonight when our trucks roll onto the National Mall for assembly at 12:01am. 

    Categories: UT SolarD