Annual HBG Design Competition Recognizes Work by Three Fay Jones School Students

Fay Jones School students James Hull, Urbano Soto and Bryan Murren are shown with Mark Weaver, second from left, and Landon Shockey, far right, both with HBG Design.
Shawnya Meyers

Fay Jones School students James Hull, Urbano Soto and Bryan Murren are shown with Mark Weaver, second from left, and Landon Shockey, far right, both with HBG Design.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Three students in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design were honored in the 12th annual HBG Design International Design Competition during an Oct. 30 awards ceremony in Vol Walker Hall on the University of Arkansas campus. The competition recognizes work students complete at international locales within the school's required study abroad programs.

This year, 11 student projects were submitted to the competition. One student was recognized as a first-prize winner with an Award of Excellence, earning a $3,000 prize, and two students were given Awards of Merit, each earning a $1,000 prize. Juries from HBG Design and the Fay Jones School evaluated the projects and determined the winning work.

Urbano Soto, a fifth-year architecture student, won an Award of Excellence for his project, "Agroma," from the Rome studio.

"I appreciate the attention to the visitor's sequence as they move through the site and multiple structures," one jury member noted. "There are some nice sectional proposals in the project, and clear ideas about the programming of the buildings. I also like that the representation and exploration moves between multiple drawing types (plan, axon, rendered section, etc.) more so than other projects. This demonstrates a deeper level of investigation."

Soto said his project proposed creating an agricultural education center located in the Parco dell'Appia Antica, or the Appian Way Regional Park, in the heart of Rome. The site incorporated an ancient cistern and two farmhouses with a cryptoporticus, or a covered pathway, located underneath.

"The center focuses on the triad crops of Italy: grapes, grains and olives," Soto said. "The goal is to take people through the processes of creating staple products like pasta, olive oil and wine from garden to table utilizing ancient techniques and technology."

For his project, Soto contemplated how to maintain a minimal impact to the surrounding environment and also focused on thoughtful procession. He proposed two methods of traversing the site, an axial path cutting through the site and a more accessible path that wound through the site and immersed visitors with nature.

Soto said that winning an Award of Excellence is helping to push him forward in his career.

"Winning this competition gave me a boost in confidence in my own work, something that can be a little hard to come by in a competitive and critical school environment," he said.  

Bryan Murren, a fifth-year architecture student, won an Award of Merit for his project, "Acqua dei Romani: A community center for the Cafarella Park," from the Rome studio.

The project has "good diagrams, good narrative, good sketches," the jury said. "[There is] beautiful integration of the existing structure into the new arrangements of outdoor and indoor spaces. Water becomes a wayfinder and historic reminder in this project. Beautiful description of process — even in the process itself, this notion of 'feeling' one's way through the project is described."

Murren said his project is a series of encounters with water features and cavernous spaces. The features lead from the modern city through the Park of the Cafarella, which consists of an ancient Roman cistern and cryptoporticus overlooking the Cafarella Valley. The community center is embedded in the hill, between the cistern and cryptoporticus.

"This placement essentially creates an inhabitable green roof that can facilitate any number of activities from playing to exhibiting art - maybe both," Murren said.

James Hull, a fifth-year architecture student, received an Award of Merit for his project, "Lazio Regional Wine Learning Center," from the Rome studio.

The jury said there was a "thoughtfulness behind the approach — good diagrams and site plans indicating why the specific approach was taken." The jury said Hull was "thinking through tactile as well as visual phenomenon."

Hull said his project, also set within the Appian Way Regional Park, focused on further developing the site's existing cistern, as it was the most polarizing of the existing site conditions. Hull's project proposed a wine learning center and community space that would allow visitors to become better informed on the wine being made in the Lazio region of Italy, a lesser-known wine-making area where Rome is situated. Hull proposed bearing into the ground behind the cistern in order to cantilever a building over the cistern without harming the ancient structure. The project provides ample covered public space for a regional wine bar, small enclosed community meeting room and public restrooms.

"The Lazio Regional Wine Learning Center is a place for people to come and enjoy the greater park area as well as get some further insight into the lesser-known craft wines of Italy," Hull said.

HBG Design, the Memphis firm that helped judge the entries, awarded the $5,000 in total prize money. Mark Weaver, a partner and principal architect with HBG Design and a 1982 graduate of the Fay Jones School, coordinated the competition. Landon Shockey, a 2007 interior design graduate of the Fay Jones School, joined Weaver at the awards ceremony. The firm also provided pizza for lunch before the awards ceremony.

The firm established the international design competition for architecture students at the Fay Jones School in 2007. It has since expanded to students in the landscape architecture and interior design programs.

"Travel is such an important part of an architecture student's growth and development as a designer," Weaver said. "It broadens their view of the world and exposes them to different cultures and inspiration in the creative process. We are honored to support the school with the International Design Competition and congratulate the winners for their thoughtful project entries."

Fay Jones School students have participated in study abroad programs at the U of A Rome Center in Italy since 1989. The school also has conducted the Latin America Urban Studio in Mexico since 1994.


Shawnya Lee Meyers, digital media specialist
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design

Michelle Parks, director of communications
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design


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