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Four students from UT’s College of Architecture and Design were among the first to win a new national award for green building design from the American Institute of Architects.

Two UT student teams won the inaugural American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment awards, a partnership with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.

LEAP Collaborative
A rendering of David Berry and Sierra Johnson’s LEAP Collaborative project.

Spring 2015 graduates Matthew Barnett of Chattanooga and Zane Espinosa of Edison, New Jersey, along with seniors Sierra Jensen of Knoxville and David Berry of Lexington, Kentucky, received the award at the AIA national convention held recently in Atlanta.

The competition challenged students to use an integrated approach to architecture, natural systems, and technology to provide architectural solutions that protect and enhance the environment.

The teams presented their award-winning projects and gave an overview of the features that meet design and sustainability goals.

“We wished to visually display a commitment to sustainable design,” said David Berry, who worked on the LEAP Collaborative project. “This project was an incredible opportunity to learn about the LEED accreditation process, the complexity of integrated design, and how to collaborate with others to finish before tight deadlines. It opened my eyes to the vast array of sustainable solutions and encouraged me to carefully consider how my design impacts the greater environment.”

Urban Market Park + Culinary School
A rendering of Matthew Barnett and Zane Espinosa’s Urban Market Park + Culinary School project.

Entries were judged on how they met sustainability measures related to design and innovation, integration with their community, land use and effect on site ecology, bioclimatic design, energy and water use, approach to light and air, materials and construction, long-life considerations, and feedback loops.

“In addition to its aesthetic dimension, architecture is increasingly measured by its impact on energy and ecosystems, people, and communities,” said Scott Poole, dean of UT’s College of Architecture and Design. “Only ten projects across the country were selected for the first AIA COTE awards, and we’re thrilled for our own students to claim two of them. Enriching local culture and contributing to the stewardship of the environment are central concerns of twenty-first century architecture.”

The projects will be on view at the 104th Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture annual meeting in Seattle in March 2016.

Renderings of David Berry and Sierra Johnson’s LEAP Collaborative project and Matthew Barnett and Zane Espinosa’s Urban Market Park + Culinary School are available online.


Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,