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Architecture Students Place Second in ACSA Design Competition

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Rendering of a proposed floating hotel room at the Lotus Resort Hotel on Lake Tahoe, by architecture students Wei Dai and Minku Jeon.

Published October 4, 2013

Two UB architecture students, Wei Dai and Minku Jeon, placed second in the recently announced 2012-13 Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) Fabric in Architecture Competition. Seeking original ideas related to the scope, scale and use of fabric structures, the design competition invited students to investigate how fabric could be integrated into the design of a resort hotel.

Dai and Jeon worked together to develop the concept for a Lotus Resort Hotel at Lake Tahoe. That concept was inspired by nature and their design was developed to prompt interaction with the landscape that embraced both the visual and physical realms. Residents at this particular resort would, they suggested, be able to sense the environment of the remarkable natural setting by living and sleeping on Lake Tahoe.

The potential of fabric to enclose space yet at the same time create lightweight structures was fundamental to this concept and enabled the students to propose individual guest rooms designed to float like a lotus on a lily pad. Inspired by the structure of the lily pad, the students designed a series of floating platforms that each became the site for a hotel room enclosed within a lightweight fabric structure.  Units could also be connected to create floating platforms for social activities while a larger fabric structure was designed to accommodate other public spaces for the hotel.

Dai and Jeon described how their design offered a series of multi-sensory experiences with nature. The proposal was, they suggested, “in the concept of feeling nature and living in it,” and they went on to suggest that the design enabled the body to “sense nature.”

The competition jury, which consisted of leading designers and technical experts, commented that the design submission prepared by Wai Dai and Minku Jeon was “both romantic and adventurous” and noted that “achieved through bio-mimicry, Lotus Hotel Resort displays an evident comprehensive understanding of the tensile roof system being deployed.”

The work of Walter Bird also provided inspiration for this project. The world’s leading designer of fabric structures and a founder of Birdair taught at UB’s School of Architecture & Planning. The Walter Bird papers are also housed in the Design Archive at UB's Special Collections and are accessible for students.

The design proposal for the Lotus Hotel Resort was prepared by students enrolled in the Department of Architecture’s ARC 404 Design Practicum ‘Collaboration + Competition.’ Led by Professor Brian Carter and Adjunct Professor Michael Williams student teams participated in the ACSA Design Competitions – an annual event open to architecture students that attracts hundreds of international entries.

The Lotus Resort Hotel will be exhibited at the 2014 ACSA Annual Meeting in Miami in April and the 2014 National Convention of the American Institute of Architects.