Past Projects

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Build Team 2019-2020

The ADAPTHAUS Project

The University of Illinois Solar Decathlon ADAPTHAUS team of 2019 is proposing the construction of an adaptable home that allows for added focus on people with disabilities. Currently, one of the greatest issues regarding housing is the barrier of entry. It is more feasible for young working professionals to rent rather than buy a home or apartment. Not until young working professionals decide to start a family does it make sense to purchase a home. However, as a family’s children phase into adulthood, much of the house becomes empty and ultimately obsolete. Aging in place arguably places a heavy burden on housing markets. Homes made for entire families are currently inhabited by two or fewer people, putting strain on the housing market and ultimately making it more difficult for young adults to access housing at an affordable price.

At the same time, aging populations face difficulties when they “age in place;” often basic home maintenance becomes more difficult with age. The house proposed by this organization hopes to tackle multiple issues that are intertwined. Firstly, we hope to design a home that can shift in favor of populations that are liable to see lifestyle changes in coming years. The modular homes we have designed are capable of attaching and detaching to units, while also sporting shiftable interior walls. These capabilities allow the inhabitant to design their home based on their need, allowing for both upscaling and downscaling. Secondly, this house will be strictly in accordance with ADA regulation as well as have a variety of low maintenance components that are especially accommodating for aging populations.

A longtime eyesore, in a city with an aging population, there is some excitement surrounding the organization’s willingness to reimagine how people live at this stage of life. Various professors from the College of Engineering and Architecture have expressed support for both the idea and the program. This comes at the heels of their respective departments providing partial funding to the organization in past years. However, given recent budget cuts, the organization’s Executive Board have taken on the responsibility of appealing for more funds, while also forging new relationships with local partners, one of which is a private practice of an adjunct architecture professor at the university.

The ADAPTHAUS team at the University of Illinois not only has the capability and the fervor to compete at a formidable level in this competition, but it has reliable institutional backing. This critical backbone is what allows the organization to flourish as it has in past years. With a variety of funding avenues and a wealth of specialized knowledge guiding our endeavours, the program is likely to continue thriving in coming years.

Concept Team Design Project 2019-2020

The concept team's main goal for this semester is to build a retrofitted model of The University of Illinois' Engineering Hall in Revit, which is a Building Information Modeling (BIM) software created by Autodesk.

The photovoltaics team is working to study the feasibility to install solar panels and a Tesla Solar Roof on Engineering Hall. The main goal of this study is whether the power generated on the rooftop is cheaper than that of what is generated in the Solar Farm which is south of U of I's campus.

The architecture team is working to design a new study patio that is completely made of sustainable materials on Engineering Hall. A complete revamp of the Engineering Hall study patio is planned even to make the patio more usable even during extreme weather conditions.

The HVAC team is planning to install geothermal pumps by looking into performing an energy analysis of the Engineering Hall.

Apart from the Engineering Hall Retrofit Project, an independent subteam from the concept team has partnered with Facilities and Services to perform Energy Report Cards for the 50 best performing buildings on campus. The aim is to find ways to make these buildings more sustainable.


Construction team Design Challenge 2019-2020

For many students of the University of Illinois, housing is often a choice of the least evil. With an ever-increasing student population, demand will continue to grow. University operated housing should act as an example of excellence for competing private firms.

The Goodwin & Green apartment complex, built 1961, is in dire need of a successor that can meet University sustainability goals proposed through the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) while providing a healthy, secure, and comfortable living experience to its occupants.

The Illinois New Construction team, under the guidance of University Housing, is proposing a complete rebuild located just North-West of the current location. With a focus on local materials and labor, this solution aims to take advantage of state and federal subsidies for green building programs, while reducing embodied CO2 and energy. With architecture inspired by local fauna as well as integrated systems developed by University alumni, the G&G Replacement aims to reflect Illini Pride.


Retrofit design team challenge 2019-2020

With origins as early as 1876, University Laboratory High School (Uni) remains a unique element on the Illini campus. However, in its current form, it is not meeting the potential proposed by the original architect. This, combined with extremely subpar sustainability metrics, inspired Illinois Retrofit, in conjunction with Facilities and Services, to reimagine a complete Uni. Our envisioned Uni will help to educate and excite the next generation on the topics of sustainability and building science while furthering the University’s commitment to the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP).

Illinois Retrofit aims to develop the originally proposed east wing with modernized sustainable design while reinforcing the dual purpose of the building: education and education research. The new addition will provide faculty and students with proper gymnasium, theatre, auditorium, cafeteria, and additional offices/classrooms.

Retrofit Project and Design INfo

The project re-imagined a new Uni-High by looking at its potential building expansion and sustainable energy performance. It aimed to educate and excite the next generation on the topics of sustainability and building science while furthering the University’s commitment to the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP)3. This was achieved by retaining, strengthening and celebrating the beautiful Neo-gothic architecture of Uni-Hi and integrating it with modern architectural language and sustainable systems and technologies. The HVAC system proposed includes CERV (Conditioning Energy Recovery Ventilator) for ventilation and ductless mini split heating pumps for heating and cooling, as opposed to the existing radiator system. This system regulates both humidity and temperature and re-purposes 80% of the total waste energy leaving the building as heat. The proposed combination achieves way better air quality and reduces the overall electricity consumption. The PV&E system uses a combination of standard poly-crystalline and bi-facial panels. The panels have a total installed capacity of 220 kW and a total energy generation of 359,000 kWh/year. The entire schemes leads to $28,500 annual savings.

The solar, building construction and HVAC technology proposed manage to offset 100% HVAC energy load requirement of the building and promised an investment recovery period of less than 20 years. The intervention created a new identity for Uni-Hi which was reminiscent and respectful of the existing building and increased the quality of spaces for the students and the staff.

Throughout the completion of the project the team worked together integrating architecture, building construction and management, energy analysis, PV & E, water, automation and HVAC. Assessing all these aspects simultaneously led to cohesive integration of technology and design creating an atmosphere in which each member contributed at achieving higher efficiency potential within the building.


Past Projects:

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ETHO HOUSE 2013

China’s Solar Decathlon presented a different set of challenges than those faced by students working inside the U.S. To achieve the proper perspective, members of the UIUC team traveled to China several times for observation and planning.

​The international team hopes that this house will increase public awareness for solar technology and promote low-carbon development.


REHOME 2011

The main focus of the project is to design high-quality house that can be quickly mobilized for emergencies. The home is very much a plug-and-play operation, providing all the creature comforts of a regular home, but without the environmental impact. The home's modernist bend is fun, but not too radical, making it a viable design for many neighborhoods. But best of all, the team was able to keep the price under $250k which, for a house that probably will never see an energy bill, is a great deal.

Gable Home 2009

The Illinois team’s highly insulated, 800-square-foot house borrows its design from a familiar Midwestern architectural vernacular and is constructed largely from recycled, reclaimed wood and engineered bamboo and is outfitted with a rooftop array of solar panels. The house was designed to meet Passive House standards set by the Passive House Institute US.

The Illinois team won first place in three competition categories: hot water, appliances, and home entertainment. It also won second place in lighting design, comfort, and net metering.