We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to one of our Honorable mention winners for our "Greening the Industrial City" competition – Joel Samuel, Yelena Vieyra, Chris Blahuta and Gassan Nasr from United States!

Honorable mention winners from United States

We met each other in architecture school at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture at the University of Houston. Over the course of our time there, we have become very close as friends and worked together on various studio projects. During this time, we also participated in the 2022 ULI Hines Student urban design competition in which we gained valuable insight into the world of real estate development and urban planning. Recently this year, we graduated with our B.Arch. degree and started working at notable architecture firms in the Houston Area.

Joel, Yelena, & Chris started work at Kendall/Heaton Associates, A firm based in Houston that primarily focuses on providing Architect of Record Services for many premier design firms across the world. Some notable projects they have worked on include the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco & The Texas Tower in Houston. Gassan started working at Page Southerland Page, A multidisciplinary design firm with a focus on architecture & engineering with offices across the U.S. and abroad. Some notable projects designed by Page include the Texas Capitol Complex Master Plan & the Indeed Tower in Austin, Texas.

Brief information about the projects that you/your company have been involved with. For instance, what scale have you focused on/preferred, any significant projects where the company/ individuals have been involved?

As a group, we have worked on several urban-scale projects as part of the QUAD-Zero studio at the University of Houston College of architecture run by Dr. Bruce Race, which had a heavy focus on Net-Zero development in terms of water, waste, energy, and greenhouse gases. One such project we enjoyed was a project in which we transformed acres of parking lots surrounding the Historic Houston Astrodome into a vibrant Mixed-Use district that we called “The AstroGreen”.

Another project that we enjoyed working on is actually located just south of the competition site; along Telephone Road, which is Eastwood’s main commercial street corridor. Despite this, the street largely remains focused on vehicular use with little regard for Pedestrians. Our design, titled “Eastwood Cantero” aims to boost local businesses and bring in essential services while enhancing the pedestrian experiences and offset the environmental impact of the current land use & infrastructure.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

Architects have the opportunity to shape all ways people interact with the world and with each other. We believe it’s the architect’s obligation to create the full potential of every inch of space and make it accessible to all groups of people. Successful Architecture and planning can evoke many moods & boost confidence, assure comfort, and provide opportunities.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

Architectural competitions, such as this one, give us the opportunity to step out of our day-to-day routine and explore new concepts and ideas. They are the perfect way to boost our personal portfolios and get the desired recognition while increasing our creativity and imagination. As architectural designers, these competitions are an amazing opportunity to imagine a better world without the typical limitations.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture competitions?

The advice I would give to individuals who struggle to decide whether they should participate in architecture competitions would be to understand that it’s all about having fun! Don’t stress out too much, architecture competitions are all about learning new tools, expressing your creativity, and showcasing your talents. For young designers, like our team, participating in architecture competitions has led to amazing opportunities which have enabled us to enrich our portfolios and build self-confidence. Such competitions have also helped develop our presentation skills, expand our experience, gain recognition, and further our understanding of architecture. It’s a win-win!

Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Enter Architecture Competitions

Curious about the value of architecture competitions? Discover the transformative power they can have on your career - from igniting creativity and turning designs into reality, to gaining international recognition.

Learn more