2015 Project Guidelines

The emphasis of the competition is the development and integration of innovative and original solutions to the design challenge. Teams should concentrate on communicating the design decisions and solutions made by the team and provide the design development calculations and details of these elements to support these decisions.

The project is located at 5500 W. Silver Spring Drive in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on a historic two-acre farm on the edge of the city of Milwaukee. The building is the first of a prototype structure that may be implemented and adapted to other urban areas across the nation.

Five stories of south-facing greenhouse areas will allow production of plants, vegetables, and herbs year-round. Expanded educational classrooms, conference spaces, demonstration kitchen, food processing and storage, freezers, and loading docks will further support Growing Power’s expanding mission as a local and national resource for learning about sustainable urban food production. Administrative offices, volunteer spaces, and staff support areas will be closely connected to greenhouse and educational areas to allow for active observation and participation.

The Vertical Farm will provide a year-round indoor retail space in addition to an outdoor market for selling produce, meat, worm castings, and compost to the community. In addition, the Vertical Farm will become a community gathering place for work, learning, and social activities.

Water is an important part of daily life at Growing Power. Water fills the hydroponic tanks for raising fish and is essential for growing a myriad variety of plants, vegetables, and herbs. A closed loop of water and nutrients circulates throughout the building; fish wastes are used as food for plants, while plants clean and filter the water for fish.

The building shall be designed to integrate and optimize on a life cycle basis all major high performance attributes, including energy conservation, environment, safety, building security, structural and material durability, accessibility, cost-benefit, productivity, sustainability, functionality and operational considerations.

Sustainability and energy efficiency are key goals of the project. As such, the building enclosure and greenhouse system are likely to play a major role. This is a team and integration goal which includes a structural support component of designing and detailing appropriate gravity and lateral support components and details for the greenhouse enclosure. All aspects of the enclosure or facade system should be considered from a design and integration perspective, including daylighting analysis and controls, energy considerations and aesthetics. A representative example is acceptable for the submission. 

The existing building systems design is to be considered as known information for the competition project. Students should not submit a design that is the same as, or a minor variation of, the existing system without the inclusion of substantial analyses of other possible solutions and written justifications for keeping the original solution. 

The width and depth of the building may vary when adapted to other urban locations.

The structural design shall consider integration and support of the greenhouse systems using an economically feasible solution that can be adapted to additional sites across the nation. The integration of the structural system with the mechanical and electrical systems for this building is critical. The teams may explore alternative vertical framing configurations to allow for less columns in the gathering areas.

The mechanical design submittal should address potential solutions for the many different occupancy types of the vertical farm. The systems should address both the needs of the Milwaukee location, but provide flexibility for easy adaptation to other locations. The mechanical systems should work with and compliment the other engineering disciplines and architecture. The mechanical design should provide, for the entire building, a level of detail demonstrating the basic design intent for HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, plumbing design (including the storm water design), fire suppression systems, and potential renewable energy sources. The economic impacts of the major mechanical design decisions should be evaluated throughout the design to stay in line with the design intent and the team’s construction budget.

Electrical design shall be developed to a level of detail similar to the other building systems. Electrical design shall be developed enough to show basic building power distribution, lighting design, fire alarm system infrastructure, and data/security infrastructure. Drawings could include, but would not be limited to power, lighting, specialty systems, technology, security, and power/special systems infrastructure diagrams. Electrical power systems and associated infrastructure shall be sized to support the expected tenant and operational needs of the building. Innovation and sustainability shall be taken into account in the electrical design. An economically viable life-cycle cost and other pertinent justification must be given for innovative and sustainable design features included in the electrical system. Like the mechanical system, the electrical system should reflect the different design requirements that would be indicative of the many different occupancy types of the vertical farm. Any design aspects incorporated into the electrical system should be easily adaptable to other locations outside of the Milwaukee location; minimal changes should have to be made to the electrical system if the owner decided to replicate this building in a different geographical location.

Teams must consider and discuss a strategy to address the safety, constructability concerns, site management, and jurisdictional requirements that are specific to construction in this location. Project delivery methods, site logistics planning, project phasing, scheduling, and sequencing are all critical components of this project.  Submittals shall demonstrate the life-cycle cost justifications especially as they relate to cost impacts in selecting systems, materials, etc.

Each team is asked to identify key constructability challenges and address how the team would address these challenges in their submittals. Teams shall provide a budget for the owner for the design and construction of the project focusing on both the short term and lifetime cost-benefits of the design solution.

For the purpose of the competition, design teams will be preparing written reports and presenting to a team of professionals who represent the building owner and design team. These professionals may include representatives from the Growing Power Foundation and the schematic design team in addition to architects, engineers and other individuals who work in the architectural engineering field.

Space programming for the new building is shown on the schematic plans that will be provided to registered teams. The supplied plans, models and program information may be modified based on the concepts of the design submittal. The intent of the architectural programming as shown in the schematic drawings shall not be modified by eliminating spaces. The exact final dimensions of the building shall be determined by the project team. Actual zoning requirements for the site must be followed.

A geotechnical report will be provided to registered design teams for this site. The competition foundation design may differ from the system chosen for the original structure with consideration of the wind and seismic performance and design goals for this project.

The architecture, including the fa├žade configuration, may be modified and the floor plan can be slightly rearranged, but the gross square footage should be maintained. For any room size changes and significant plan changes, teams shall provide appropriate rationale and justification combined with sensitivity to the program and architecture of the provided preliminary design documents.

Teams will be forwarded schematic electronic drawings including site information, and a geotechnical report upon registration. Additional information may be provided to all registered teams during the project.

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The competition is open to both graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in the accredited architectural engineering programs and programs actively seeking accreditation by EAC/ABET. Each team shall be supervised and advised by a faculty advisor. Students that are not enrolled in an accredited architectural engineering program or programs actively seeking accreditation by EAC/ABET may be members of the team but may not be the team leader. Teams from architectural engineering programs that are not accredited will be allowed to partner with students in an accredited architectural engineering program.

It is anticipated that teams will consist of 2-3 students per category and teams may include a maximum of ten participants. A team leader shall be designated as the point-of-contact for the purposes of the competition and shall be responsible for all correspondence and submittals. The team leader shall be a graduate or undergraduate student in an ABET-accredited architectural engineering program. The other members of the team may be graduate or undergraduate students in other departments, schools, programs or universities. Participants are limited to competing on only one team and teams are prohibited from using help from students not officially listed on the team. All team members shall have student memberships in AEI. There is no cost for AEI student memberships and applications are available at: http://www.asce.org/aei/student-membership-enrollment/

There is no limit to the number of teams that each program may register and have participating in the competition process. There is no cost to register a team. However, each program is required to limit the number of teams submitting final reports and projects to the competition jury to two teams. If a school has more than two teams registered, the determination of which two teams will submit their final reports and projects to the competition jury is at the discretion of each individual school program and the associated faculty advisors. Each team submitting a project to the competition must be working on their own unique design solution. The team project submittal must include the integration category and one or more additional categories as described in the required submittals section.

In addition, each team leader must be a member of an AEI student chapter in good standing. In order to be in good standing, the AEI student chapter must provide current contact information and submit a chapter report as required by the AEI Student Bylaws.

The official list of team participants shall be submitted at the time of registration and confirmed at the time of the competition final submittal. Any changes to the team composition, at any point in the competition, must be justified, submitted in advance in writing and approved by the AEI competition committee.

Faculty/Professional Responsibility

The entries are expected to be the students’ own work under faculty supervision and advisement. Faculty and/or professional consultants shall not directly participate in the design work. The extent of faculty and/or professional consultant involvement shall be limited to answering questions, providing references, general guidance, and providing general feedback, as would be expected for a capstone design project. Individual schools and/or programs may offer course credit for participation in the competition.

It is anticipated that the teams will have meetings on a regular basis with their faculty advisor starting as soon as August 2014. Teams should have several key submittals to their faculty advisors and peers throughout the project. It is anticipated that the student teams will work on preliminary designs in the fall semester and present their preliminary designs for peer review to their faculty and fellow students in January or before. The teams will work on the design development submittals for electronic submission by February 11, 2015 to the competition committee for review by the judges. Finalist teams will be selected based on these electronic submissions, and teams will be notified by February 27, 2015. All finalist teams may continue to work on their projects after the electronic submission in anticipation of possible selection as a finalist team and in preparation for the finalist presentations. It is recommended that finalist teams present their projects to their faculty advisors and peers prior to the finalist presentations to the judges.

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