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CSI winners
From left to right are Steven Whitmore, Ryan Stechmann, Katie Lewis, and Jared Pohl. Not pictured is Phil Geiman. All are graduate architecture students and members of the winning team.

Five UT students have won a national competition for their design of an energy-efficient Habitat for Humanity house that is also accessible to people with disabilities.

The students, Phil Geiman of Shepherdstown, West Virginia; Katie Lewis of Kingsport, Tennessee; Jared Pohl of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Ryan Stechmann of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi; and Steven Whitmore, Oak Hill, West Virginia, are all graduate architecture majors and members of the UT chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute. Both the program and the chapter are based in the College of Architecture and Design.

The competition, which was by invitation only, asked students to design a 1,300-square-foot Nashville-based home that was both compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Energy Star, a program of the US Environmental Protection Agency. It also had to meet the energy efficiency criteria of the US Department of Energy.

The UT students received their award last month at the National Construction Specifications Institute convention in Nashville.

“As a team we were happy to get the invitation, but I think we were more excited about having the opportunity to design a project down to the nuts and bolts,” said Jared Pohl, past president of the institute’s UT chapter. “I think we were all proud of what we were able to accomplish as a team.”

The five UT students envisioned the project over the summer. Together they produced a schematic set of drawings and an outline specification that uses detailed fa├žade and site treatments to increase the proposed home’s efficiency.

Rendering of the students' winning design.
Rendering of the students’ winning design.

The Construction Specifications Institute is a national association of more than 13,000 volunteers, including architects, engineers, contractors, manufacturers, and owners who are experts in building construction and materials. UT’s student group, which is affiliated with the Knoxville chapter, promotes “an equal appreciation for design and sound building science,” said James Rose, the faculty advisor for the organization. He is a 2011 winner of the Andrew J. Drozda Academic Programs Award, an institute honor given to a member who prepares students well in construction-related curricula.

“The chapter makes a broad range of professionals available to the students and provides opportunities to network, learn about other aspects of the construction industry, and discuss best building practices,” Rose said. “I believe good architecture requires a depth of knowledge about the materials, methods, and trades of construction. The Construction Specifications Institute is an excellent introduction to these aspects.”

To learn more about the achievements of the students in the UT College of Architecture and Design, visit the website.

C O N T A C T S:

Kiki Roeder (865-974-6713,

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,