architecture_studentsTwo second-year Cuesta College architecture students teamed up to win a national architecture design competition.

In addition, three of their classmates earned merit certificates for entries in the Leading Edge 2011-2012 Design Competition. Contest judging was delayed, and results only were announced in mid-October.

Salvador Villanueva, 20, of Santa Maria and Agus Tio, 25, of Indonesia received $3,000 for winning Challenge 1 of the contest for third- and fourth-year and graduate students. In addition, Cuesta’s architecture program will receive $1,500.

Second-year Cuesta students Graham Foster, Conor Sass received merit awards in the university-student category. Trevor Eberz, 22, of Santa Barbara earned a merit award in the Challenge 2 division for first- and second-year architecture students.

“Cuesta’s architecture students truly benefit from the active support from our industry community partners and from the college’s integrated design approach for architecture instruction,” said Dave Fernandez, Cuesta architecture instructor. “All of our students worked hard and produced incredible results.”

The competition focused on zero-net site energy buildings. These structures generate enough onsite renewable energy to equal or exceed the amount needed to operate the building. Since heating and cooling account for a significant portion of the nation’s demand for fossil fuel, creating zero-net buildings is an important way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight global warming, Fernandez said.

Students were asked to create a co-housing community for baby boomer retirees that emphasized vitality and incorporated elements devoted to recreation, technology and a wellness center. The project site was in Merced, a city of nearly 80,000 at the gateway to Yosemite National Park, where summer temperatures can soar to triple digits while winter lows dip well below freezing.

The competition included two divisions. Challenge 1 entrants had to design a zero-net energy mixed-use commercial and residential building, while students in the Challenge 2 division designed zero-net energy townhouses and a cafe. The projects were located on adjacent sites near Merced’s historic downtown.

Entries had to be submitted by June 29. The design jury included architecture professors from Cal Poly Pomona and UCLA and the chief architect for the customer service business unit of Southern California Edison.

Stacey White, another Cuesta architecture instructor, was impressed with the students’ projects that were displayed to the public during a reception in downtown San Luis Obispo in May.

“I feel fortunate to work with such a dedicated, enthusiastic group of students,” said White, an architect and owner of San Luis Obispo-based mode associates. “The diversity of backgrounds, approaches and experience really gives the design work an amazing depth.

“This competition also required a great deal of technical understanding and follow-through, the students really took it to heart and rose to the challenge,” she added. “I am confident they will go on to have great architectural careers.”

Cuesta’s architecture program is a two-year program resulting in an AS in Architectural Technology. Over 90 percent of students completing the program transfer to undergraduate and graduate schools at such schools as Cal Poly, University of Oregon, New School and other accredited architecture programs throughout the country.

For more information on Cuesta’s architecture program, call Dave Fernandez at (805) 546-3100, ext. 2738, or visit

More Online:

Jay Thompson | (805) 546-3100, ext. 2636 | Email: | Posted Nov. 8, 2012