College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities

Clemson architecture students honored for design excellence


Photo of Kelly Umutoni and Josh Guertin, winners of a top award from the Society of American Registered Architects.
Clemson students Kelly Umutoni and Josh Guertin won a top design award from the Society of American Registered Architects. Pictured are, left to right, Brian Lee (juror), Mark Nagis (juror), Guertin, Umutoni, and Dennis Dong (chair of the SARA National Design Awards Committee).

Clemson University students Kelly Umutoni and Josh Guertin recently received an Award of Merit from the Society of American Registered Architects (SARA).

The second-year Master of Architecture students were recognized at the 2019 SARA National Design Awards, held Nov. 1 in Chicago as part of the organization’s annual conference, Oct. 30-Nov. 3.

Umutoni and Guertin comprised one of four student teams awarded the organization’s second highest honor. Only one other student team placed higher.

“We were very pleased to be recognized for our project by professionals in our field,” Guertin said.

“A Vertical Social Street,” the award-winning project by Umutoni and Guertin, is a design for a sustainable, multi-level complex with both residential and office space in the warehouse district of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The 280,000-square-foot complex would encourage community interaction by incorporating green terraces along with a variety of other indoor/outdoor spaces, such as a family park. Among the complex’s amenities would be a public market that provides year-round access to organic and sustainable groceries, and an ice rink that would become a reflecting pool in the warmer months.

Photo of an award-winning design by Kelly Umutoni and Josh Guertin.
“A Vertical Social Street” is the award-winning project by Kelly Umutoni and Josh Guertin.

The multi-generational project would offer space as well for a gym, coffee shop, library room, artist’s studio, yoga studio, and basketball court. Sustainability features include solar panels and geothermal heat pumps.

Umutoni was born and grew up in Kigali, Rwanda while Guertin is from Rowley, Massachusetts. Both are scheduled to graduate in May.

Umutoni and Guertin worked with several Clemson professors on the highly detailed project.

“We’d like to thank our professors, Ulrike Heine, Dan Harding and David Franco, for their support and direction all semester,” Guertin said.

Ten students from nine accredited architecture schools received awards.

In addition to the students who were recognized, 71 architecture professionals received awards. Professional architects from across the nation comprised the jury for the awards.

The credo of the Society of American Registered Architects is “Architect Helping Architect.” The SARA National Design Awards Program provides an annual opportunity for the society to recognize professionals and students for design excellence. The diverse honorees designed projects of all scales and budgets throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Founded in 1956, SARA is a practitioner-led-and-governed professional society that includes the participation of architects and industry affiliates. SARA stresses a high degree of professional fellowship and mentoring.

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