College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities

Clemson architecture student wins national design competition


CLEMSON — Lori North of Simpsonville, a fourth-year student in the Clemson University School of Architecture, was on the winning team of the inaugural “Project Precast” design competition.

Project Precast winning rendering of a fancy concrete horse barn
Clemson University architecture student Lori North and two team members won the first “Project Precast”  competition. Their challenge was to design a precast concrete horse barn.

North’s Team Tindall was awarded a prize of $3,000, which was split evenly between its three student members.

The competition was sponsored by the PCI Foundation, an educational entity that supports the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Industry. The contest was held as part of the industry’s annual gathering, which was held Feb. 26 through March 2 in Louisville, Kentucky.

The PCI Foundation received twice as many applications for the contest as they had spots to fill. The 15 students chosen were among some of the most intelligent and competitive students from universities around the country, according to the foundation.

Upon arriving for the competition, students had no idea what the project would entail or which team members they would be paired with.

With the stated goal of creating interdisciplinary teams, the PCI Foundation paired North with students Kinga Pabjan, a master’s candidate in construction at Washington University in St. Louis, and Fernanda Arce, an engineering student from the University of Arizona.

Together they were tasked with designing a Kentucky-themed, four-stall horse barn using precast concrete. With only 24 hours to work, the teams had to complete research on horse barns and meet with vendors and their engineering mentor to complete the design.

North said the experience was a great way to work and learn with students from a variety of fields.

“We had to balance what we all wanted in the design, and then what would actually work from a construction standpoint,” North said.

Lori North wins Project Precast
The winning “Project Precast” team included, from left, Kinga Pabjan from Washington University, Fernanda Arce from the University of Arizona and Lori North of Clemson.

“In the end, we produced planned sections, renderings, a full construction schedule and construction details. It included everything from how things are connected, finishes of concrete, the appearance of the concrete and even how the materials would fit on a truck bed,” she said.

As one of the only undergraduate students in the competition, North hopes to take her experience from the competition back into her studio classes at Clemson and into her future career.

“The competition gave me the self-confidence and ability to efficiently produce,” she said. “I realized if I can work with two other people and complete a project of this scale in 24 hours, I can complete even more.”

North is from Simpsonville and serves as co-president of the University’s American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) organization.

Alex McAbee, a third-year architecture student at Clemson University, also was selected to participate in the “Project Precast” competition as a member of Team Metromont.

The PCI Foundation, focuses on bridging the gap between curriculum and real-world experience with precast concrete and technologies for students. They develop grants that allow students in architecture, engineering and construction management to partner with local precast producers, engineers and architects to create valuable learning experiences and relationships.

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