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USC Precast Studio Recognizes Outstanding Student Projects

Five architecture students were recognized for work in the University of Southern California Precast Studio “Arch 402b Precast Analytics Design Studio” sponsored in part by the PCI Foundation, during the spring semester of 2012/2013. The studio was the precast studio at the school which partnered with local industry to bring a “real world” flavor to the student’s work over the course of 16 weeks. Local partners included Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute West (PCI West) and its eleven precast producer members.  

Each student had an individual project they worked on all semester, although all of them designed projects for Joshua Tree National Park.  This park is about the size of Rhode Island, and has several different climate zones. It actually crosses two completely different deserts, the Mojave and the Colorado.  Students designed visitors' centers, ranger headquarters, lodge hotels and education/research centers.  All the buildings were about 25,000 square feet, and typically were about three stories.  

They were similar in that each student had one very large space with a good-sized roof span.  “The desert climate is an ideal match for high-mass concrete, and the extreme sensitivity of the sites mean that off-site fabrication is a valuable strategy,” says Karen Kensek, one of the professors leading the studio. “The buildings were large enough to allow for adequate reuse of forms for multiple castings.”

Five juries participated in selecting outstanding student projects. All student projects were shared with all juries - and five individuals were singled out for recognition. The students whose work on the Joshua Tree program was recognized were:

ANISH TILAK      (selected by mixed architects/engineers/precasters jury) Rattlesnake Maze Research Center: Joshua Tree National Park

Anish placed special effort on the design of the roof.  He created a long-span, curved precast roof clerestory composed of multiple individual elements.  The final jury debated the results, but eventually determined that the design could be built.  Anish made a mold and cast several of the repeating elements.  He used mirrors to mimic additional elements, and studied the daylight reflecting on the precast.