|Fighting urban sprawl
A&M students' designs chosen for
nationally recognized community
By Ryan Garcia
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.