Designing Serenbe

A&M architecture students' designs chosen
for nationally recognized Georgia community

The designs of Jason Herber and Jeff Chapman, two graduate students from the Texas A&M University's College of Architecture, have been selected as the newest additions to the portfolio under construction in the nationally recognized community of Serenbe, an environmentally friendly community south of Atlanta.

Steve Nygren, a founder of Serenbe, challenged the class of 12 first-year graduate students to design live/work units that emphasize sustainability, urban design and community, both individually and collectively. The outstanding concepts of Herber and Chapman made such an impression on the founders and developers that their designs will be built in the 224-acre Serenbe community, the first hamlet planned within the 65,000-acre Chattahoochee Hill Country.

"Dr. Phillip Tabb, director of architecture at Texas A&M, has been working with Serenbe for several years, and provided his expertise in sacred geometry to develop our master plan," said Nygren. "Serenbe has been a collaborative project from the outset, and we welcomed the opportunity for creative input from his students. The results — especially from these two students — were so outstanding that it was an easy decision to follow through and develop their designs."

Each student was given a profile of an imaginary owner for a unit and asked to develop a design appropriate for the user and the type of work for which the space would be used. The class also was charged to work together and consider the overall functionality of the development, without sacrificing the aesthetic beauty of the individual units. The resulting efforts made such an impression on Serenbe's founders that the model has been displayed in the sales office and used as inspiration for the live/work section of the community.

The students whose concepts were chosen for implementation are spending almost a week at Serenbe, working with the architect of record, Atlanta-based Randy Miller, to refine their designs and approve the final plans for construction. The unit designed by Herber has been purchased by Dennis Crumpler, founder of XcelleNet. The office portion of this space has been donated to the Chattahoochee Hill Country to use for five years and will serve as its headquarters when completed. The second unit will be available for sale.

"It has been an honor to work with Steve and architect Randy Miller on the details of my design," said Chapman, 26. "Serenbe is unique in its focus on sustainability and conservation, two key principles I will incorporate into my professional career."

This summer, Chapman will be working for the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems in Houston before returning to conclude his master's degree.

"Having one of my designs built is definitely a major starting point in my career and I owe a lot to Dr. Tabb and Mr. Nygren for giving me this opportunity," added Herber, 25. "It is definitely a unique experience for us as students."

Herber has accepted an internship at a local architectural firm in Venice Beach, Calif. this summer, and is also preparing to participate in an upcoming art show prior to returning to school in the fall.

Serenbe, the first development within the Chattahoochee Hill Country south of Atlanta, has been designed with both conservation and community in mind. Homes, restaurants, art galleries and other businesses will be concentrated in hamlets designed to encourage a sense of community. This design also enables the preservation of more than 70 percent of Serenbe's acreage as green space. Serenbe homes will also be environmentally friendly.

— The End —

January 10, 2005