Students Transform New York’s South Bronx with High-Performance Architecture

Categories: Architecture

Designers have the unique ability to intentionally shape the world. With climate change accelerating everywhere, designers with knowledge of sustainable design tools and methods are needed now more than ever.

Aspiring architects from around the world leveraged advanced software tools, and sustainability strategies in the Transformation 2030 Student Design Competition to turn the shuttered Spofford Juvenile Center in New York City’s South Bronx into a high performance, mixed use development.

The site was chosen for a reason. From an environmental standpoint, roughly 75 percent of New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to the energy used in buildings, almost twice the national average, proportionally. From a social standpoint, the current condition of Hunts Point is the result of significant portions of the city having been consumed by industry.


The site is located in the South Bronx of New York City


The site of the former Spofford Juvenile Detention Center

In order to make the new development a destination that the neighborhood’s residents can be proud of, competition participants had to include residential apartments, a nursery school, event spaces, and a commercial kitchen. They also gained valuable real-world experience by creating a site plan that took the history and present conditions of Hunts Point into consideration.

“A design-led revolution is underway and the lives of future generations will be largely determined by the design choices we make today. That’s why this competition is so unique. It challenges students to solve tomorrow’s problems and design solutions that will be relevant far into the future,” said Adam Menter, sustainability education program manager, Autodesk.

“Autodesk is committed to equipping the next generation of designers with the skills and professional design tools to imagine, design and create a better world. Not only did the entries for the Transformation 2030 competition rigorously integrate sustainability and community needs, but students also gained critical sustainable design skills and knowledge that will serve them well in design careers,” he added.

Preparing architects and engineers for a new era of performance-based design

To help bring their design concepts to life, all participants had free* access to education resources and design tools offered by both Autodesk and Architecture 2030. These included professional 3D design tools from Autodesk like Autodesk Green Building Studio, Autodesk Revit and Autodesk Vasari software; as well as the Autodesk Building Performance Analysis (BPA) Certificate Program which is an online course that teaches the fundamentals for designing high performance buildings through self-paced online tutorials, quizzes and Autodesk software exercises.

Participants also used Architecture 2030’s 2030 Palette, an online educational toolkit containing a networked set of design principles – or “Swatches” – for the development of sustainable and resilient built environments worldwide.

First place

“Hunt’s Point Revival” was designed by Maksym Rokhmaniiko, a graduate student at the University of Oregon in USA.

With a thorough analytical approach, strong visuals and keen attention to maintaining a low carbon footprint, “Hunt’s Point Revival” successfully demonstrated how environmental analysis can work hand-in-hand with social, contextual, and conceptual considerations to develop a compelling scheme that works on multiple levels.

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“Hunt’s Point Revival” was lauded for incorporating the existing structure, well-proportioned courtyards, and a good design process.

Second place

“Green Giant” by Guillaume Beaudet-Riel, Luc-Oliver Daigle, and Sarah Landry, from the Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada, created an iconic design while reducing the building’s its carbon footprint with passive heating and cooling strategies. The team also improved daylight access and applyed efficient technologies like a ground-coupled heat exchanger.


6The 4th year students behind “Green Giant” were fueled by the desire to unify workers and inhabitants of the South Bronx by creating paths and in-between zones to generate an animated atmosphere.

Third place

“Re-Link” by Jacob Van de Roovaart, a 4th year student at California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, USA, was designed with the aim of providing a safe environment in which residents could interact, work, and live together through a series of protected courtyards, green roofs.

The design also incorporated sustainable design principles in an iterative design process that tracked Energy Use Intensity (EUI) alongside design changes, like evolving building massing to increase solar access and improve pedestrian traffic.

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“Re-Link” partially submerged the kitchen in the earth to help control temperatures and reduce the amount of exposed exterior surface area

Fourth place

Nina Fijalkowska and Katarzyna Kossakowska’s entry, “Sustainability for Hunt’s Point,” was designed for natural ventiliation for passive cooling in warm months, and for passive solar heating in cold months.

The designers who are in their 5th year at the Technical University of Lodz in Lodz, Poland, also determined that vegetation on the west façade and on the roofs reduced the total area of impervious surfaces which not only decreased heat gains in the evenings, but could also be used to capture storm water.

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“Sustainability for Hunt’s Point” – Connections were created through the site to simplify access between buildings, and act as social centers to motivate people to leave their cars and walk or bike to the site

“I am so impressed with the quality of the entries and how they embraced the aspirations for this community. These visions for a former juvenile incarceration facility are a needed antidote to much of the lowest common denominator development going on in poor communities across America.  Now it’s up to us to realize some of this design inspiration in a way that builds as much local wealth and prosperity as possible. I can’t wait to mount an exhibition of all the finalist right in the neighborhood that inspired this competition!” said Majora Carter, who is also a board member of the US Green Building Council.

The Transformation 2030 competition was presented by the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) and sponsored by Autodesk in partnership with Architecture 2030, the Majora Carter Group, and Perkins Eastman.

To learn more about how students are shaping the future of our built environment, check out:

You can also find out how students and teachers can gain free access to Autodesk software by visiting the Autodesk Education Community.

*Free Autodesk software and/or cloud-based services may only be used for educational purposes and are subject to acceptance of and compliance with the terms and conditions of the software license agreement or terms of service. Details and restrictions available at