DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Science Engineering

Waste Not

A team including a Hofstra engineering professor and 11 students proved that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, building a pavilion on Governor’s Island using five tons of dried clay and thousands of pounds of melted aluminum.

Their project, called Cast & Place, took first place in the 7th Annual City of Dreams Pavilion competition that encourages sustainable design by challenging architects, designers, and engineers to envision and create architecture out of materials that will have as little impact on the environment as possible.

The proposal called for creating architectural panels by pouring wet clay into shallow wooden trays and letting it dry.   The dried clay forms a network of cracks which is transferred into a metal tray and melted aluminum is poured into the mold.  When the aluminum cools and hardens, the clay is washed away to create a strong yet delicate lattice of aluminum which is used to create the walls and roof of the pavilion.

Cast & Place was among more than 100 submissions in this year’s competition, which was sponsored by FIGMENT, a free arts event, the AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee, and the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY).

“By participating in the project, students were able to contribute to a locally built structure,” said civil engineering professor Edward Segal.  “The experience of seeing something tangible that you have worked hard on, and having the opportunity to share that with friends and family is very rewarding.”

Engineering students Sayeeda Manzoor, ‘17, Amanda Cohen ‘19, Jennifer Desamero ’18 and Dominick Pizzano, ‘19 helped the team    install the pavilion on Governors Island. Susanna Planck-Kuney ‘18, Bernadette Rooney ‘18, Emily Root ‘18, and Kris Wagner ‘18 assisted with the development of prototypes and Gulshan Mangra ‘19, Tyler Weinger ‘19, and Ahsan Sandhu ‘17 crushed aluminum cans.

“Being able to help Dr. Segal with such a crafty and unique project was a great and rewarding opportunity,” said Jennifer Desamero.   “The best part was being able to help out hands-on at the pavilion site, prepping the foundation for the form work.  It was very satisfying seeing the pavilion at Governor’s Island, knowing that it was a product of recycled aluminum cans artfully melted into dried cracked clay.”

The design project was the brainchild of Josh Draper from PrePost, Lisa Ramsburg, Powell Draper, and Alexandra Cheng  from schlaich bergermann partner, Professor Segal, Max Dowd from Grimshaw Architects, Artist Scot W. Thompson, and Bruce Lindsay, Sculptor.    The group dubbed themselves Team Aesop.

The project “was selected … both because of its innovative construction methods and because of its efficiency and sustainability,” said David Koren, executive producer of Figment Projects.  “The jury was very persuaded by the story of the project, the credibility of the team, the sustainability of the project, and the design impact of the proposed design.”

Winning the competition was only the beginning. FIGMENT provides seed money to the winning team to build its project, but the team had to raise the rest.

Team Aesop raised $30,000 to complete the project. Once the exhibition is over, the architectural panels they built will be recycled into benches and stools for supporters of the project and will also be placed in community gardens and schools in New York City.


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