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NYIT Students Bring Waste Removal Solutions to Costa Rica


Nine New York Institute of Technology architecture students, three of them from Long Island, will bring their creative designs and skills to Costa Rica to develop a recycling and education center, after thousands of people voted on Facebook. Two of the teams were chosen by judges while the third was chosen by voters in a competition that challenged students to design solutions for the growing waste removal problem in Nosara, a community on the Pacific coast. The students will present their work in Nosara in January 2012, then use feedback to refine the projects.

Team Poroso became the public’s favorite by garnering the most votes out of 3,146 votes on a Facebook poll from Nov. 29 to Dec. 7. The NYIT and social media community voted for their favorite designs among seven proposals. Poroso’s design draws on characteristics of local tropical architecture, such as high ceilings, large overhangs, natural lighting and ventilation, and local materials. Team members include Vincenzo Ciaramella (Howard Beach, NY), Wagdy Moussa (New York, NY), and Alfonso Rodriguez (Park Slope, NY).

A jury of professors from NYIT’s School of Architecture and Design initially selected two winning teams and kept their decision confidential until after the public voting process. They praised the teams – Duality and MCD Costa Rica – for simple and elegant ideas, good planning, and clear presentations.


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“It will be an invaluable experience for students to travel to Costa Rica to further develop ideas with community input,” said project leader Tobias Holler, AIA, assistant professor of architecture. “They will learn about building in a tropical environment, and experience first-hand the powerful role that design can play in improving life in a rural community.”

Duality’s design focused on two elements: the recycling center and the education facility. The team also addressed the dry season and wet season of Nosara by developing a process to collect rainwater and reduce heat build-up in the facility by using reflective roofing materials, as well as high ceilings, and ventilation opening in the roof. Team members include Karen Gomez (Westchester, NY), Karolina Kopiczko (Nutley, NJ), and Jessica Rose Jardinel (Nutley, NJ).

Meanwhile, MCD Costa Rica planned a design that would cause little impact on the Earth, placing an elongated building along the landscape. They proposed using trees that were previously cut down as well as recycled plastic bottles to construct the building. Their plan minimizes deforestation and also creates a covered educational space. Team members include Crystal Eksi (Smithtown, NY), Michael Koutsoubis (Melville, NY), and Dimitri Malliakas (East Meadow, NY).

The NYIT architecture students will also refine their plans with Sarah Meyland, associate professor of environmental technology, and students from the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences during the spring semester. The project is part of the ongoing student-led architecture build (sLAB) initiative at NYIT’s School of Architecture and Design. It will involve the NYIT community service chapters of Freedom by Design and Engineers Without Borders. Veritas University in San Jose, Costa Rica will serve as the local partner university for the project.

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