We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the 3rd and Student prize winners of our “Monte D'Oiro Wine Tasting Room” competition – Fernando Irizarry, Brian Torres and Marcos Ortiz from Puerto Rico!

Fernando Irizarry, Brian Torres and Marcos Ortiz

Brian Torres, Marcos Ortiz, and I, Fernando Irizarry, are currently seeking a NAAB Accredited Master Degree in Architecture at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus.

We met back in 2014 when we started our bachelor’s degree in Environmental Design. Since then, we have shared our educational journey and have grown professionally by sharing technical and conceptual skills. After our first year of studies, we took part in an educational summer trip to Europe that started in Portugal.

We were amazed by the architectural diversity that constituted these historical and modern cities. In 2018, we became part of the Competition studio at the School of Architecture at UPR, mentored by professors Rafael Vargas and Francisco Rodriguez.

During that experience, we discovered our strengths in the design process, and we grew as designers by reinforcing those strengths in different areas. By complementing each other, the three of us enjoy developing ideas for conceptual design and continuously challenging ourselves to develop creative, efficient, and sustainable solutions.

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?

While studying, we have been part of several educational and professional projects. In 2018, Marcos and Fernando won the 1st Prize and BB Student Award at the Nemrut Volcano Eyes idea competition organized by Buildner. In 2019, Fernando and Brian attended the TU Delft Planning and Design with Water Summer School in the Netherlands. In that program, we learned the importance of city planning and how to achieve spatial justice for future sustainable and resilient cities. A group project located at Scheveningen, The Hague, was designed to implement all the tools and knowledge provided through the summer school.

Both Brian and Fernando worked at Flores Kearns CSP in 2018 and Edgardo Perez Architect in 2019, mostly on small and medium scale architecture projects.

Currently, Marcos works at Oficios MA, an architecture firm that focuses on historical conservation projects, mainly in the Colonial Old San Juan. Also, Marcos is an architecture history research assistant for Professor Jorge Lizardi, Ph.D., at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus.

Fernando Irizarry is working as a Research Assistant for the NASA PRINT (Puerto Rico Space Partnership for Research, Innovation, and Training to Engage the Next Generation of Explorers) and as a digital prototyping and habitability instructor at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. From large scale projects, such as urban planning, to small scale projects, such as 3D print prototyping, we are continually learning how our skills can contribute positively to our environment.

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

The definition of architecture and the role of an architect has evolved throughout the years. For us, architecture is a spatial idea brought to life, the perfect delimitation of an infinite space. Architecture is as complex as cultures; it varies depending on its natural environment, technology, and human necessities. The role of an architect is to understand all of these parameters, so they are capable of bringing any idea to create an environment that promotes social interaction, equality, diversity, and a sustainable way of living.

Fernando Irizarry, Brian Torres and Marcos Ortiz from Puerto Rico

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

Architecture visual competitions give us the freedom to express ourselves and explore a vast world of possibilities to solve a problem with no right or wrong solution. These types of projects free our minds from any preconceived idea and pushes our imagination far further than what we thought was achievable.  Architecture competitions are a free pass to think outside the box, a space where even the craziest ideas are up for discussion. We see these ideas competitions as a way to return to our childhood mindset, where everything was possible.

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

To anyone reading this and doubting participating in an architecture competition, we say: go for it! Participating in architecture competitions has allowed us to develop better teamwork. It has also brought the opportunity to expose ourselves to other cultures and different ways of thinking about space and architecture. In the process, we get to understand different perspectives of how humans interact with the physical world.

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