Student Spotlight: Oscar L. '20 Shines a Light on Sustainability

Oscar L. ‘20 has been a longtime supporter of sustainability. He bikes to school every day, has been a proud member of the sustainability club since eighth grade and has even used his spare time to clean parks with the Student Conservation Association. For his Junior Workshop  project, Oscar stayed true to his interest and looked to Calhoun for inspiration, exploring ways to make the school itself more sustainable.

Below we chat with Oscar, discussing his project, process and passion for sustainability.

What is the concept of your project?

My project is to redesign the Calhoun building with the goal of making the building more sustainable. The final project will be models of my final design, drawings and an approximate cost for the redesign.

Oscar L. shares his work on Demo Day

What does it mean for a building to be sustainable?

It's very hard to redesign a building architecturally to make it more sustainable. When you're building something new, you want to minimize materials and try to make it very simple. This also means figuring out how you can use sources around us. How can you use the sun? How can you use water? You also want to think about rainwater collection and solar panels, as well as maximizing efficiency for heating and cooling systems. You’d want to have a really strong outer envelope, which means that outside factors like weather and wind will not influence the inside of the building.

What was the inspiration for your project?

I really wanted to build and draw something, since that's what I really enjoy.  I'm also really interested in architecture and thought about different ways that I could redesign Calhoun. I thought that the design and redesign phase of an architectural project could give me a chance to make things with my hands. I started off with the idea of designing the space for efficiency and movement throughout the building, but later I decided to focus on sustainability because that is where architecture is going.

A key aspect of my project that I was only looking to change the building from an architectural standpoint.  I thought about how I could change the shape of the building and how I could make it as efficient as possible.

What was the process of bringing your idea to life?

I explored different areas of research. First I looked at how to design a building sustainably, which includes looking at systems throughout the building and ways to maximize the use of natural resources like the sun. I also explored the sustainability issues the current building has. This involves measuring the heights of buildings around [the school], as well as measuring how much sunlight the building gets. Lastly, I researched examples of sustainable architecture in our society.

Following research was a phase I call the “design and redesign phase.” After making multiple sketches and models for a first draft, I continued to rebuild and redesign for a final exhibition.

What do you hope people will learn from your project?

I want people to have a better awareness of and appreciation for the building. I want people to become more aware of the spaces in the building and how their experiences are different in each room. I also want to try and educate people about sustainability. I want to make them aware and start to think to themselves, “Am I recycling this correctly?” or, “I shouldn’t be littering.”

There are so many opportunities during our day that we can choose the sustainable path. I can share this with other people and encourage them to make some small changes in their day to make it a little bit more sustainable.

What did you learn from Junior Workshop?

I learned about the process of creating something from start to finish. I feel this will definitely help me not only in future projects that I'm assigned in college, but also when I work on my own. Junior Workshop has helped me make a plan, set realistic goals and question whether I’m using my time effectively. [What I learned from] the structure of Junior Workshop will allow me to complete personal or school projects in a much more efficient manner.

Learn more about Junior Workshop and other student projects by visiting the Junior Workshop page