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Jan 03 2013

Architecture Students Return to Costa Rica

Nosara recycling center

Nosara, Costa Rica  (January 3, 2013) – Fifteen NYIT architecture students are spending part of their winter break installing a roof and walls on a Costa Rican recycling center designed by their colleagues just over a year ago.

“I love being able to get my hands dirty and to be involved in the physical construction, which is something most architecture students never get to do,” said fifth-year student Natalie Jaggernauth before she left for Costa Rica earlier this week.

A group of students competed to design a recycling center in late 2012 under the guidance of Assistant Professor Tobias Holler. After a final design was selected and approved by a community nonprofit organization, students raised $20,000 to travel last summer to the coastal village of Nosara to begin the construction phase with the help of local laborers. They set up the site, and began building the concrete foundation and block walls. 

“I had never done hands-on work in construction so this was definitely a wake-up call,” said Dan Horn, a fifth-year student. “It’s one thing to draw a building but it’s completely different to actually go out in the field and build it with your hands.”

Most recently, Holler and the students completed another successful fundraising campaign on Kickstarter and raised more than $10,000 to help pay travel expenses for the current trip. Filmmaker Ayana de Vos has accompanied the students on all of the trips as she films their project for a documentary. The students are also blogging and posting on Facebook and Twitter about their progress.

Holler said the project has been gratifying and inspiring.

“It was a big leap of faith for us to start this,” Holler said. “Design-build projects are not always successful – things like budgets and building permits come into play. We were lucky that we had a good partner. They got excited about our efforts.”

With a modern design inspired by the surrounding tropics, the center will include a sorting facility, an open lobby, and community education space. The 3,000-square-foot center will reduce the amount of recyclable waste sent to a nearby inadequate municipal dump.

“Working on a project hands-on is the best way to fully discover architecture behind it,” said fourth-year student Katarzyna Zelechowska. “My future design solutions will take into consideration the building process more than before.”

“It’s really about being a part of the helping the Nosara environment…and ultimately the health of the people,” added Chuong Pham, a fifth-year international student from Vietnam. “I hope I will learn not only the technical aspect of building a building but more importantly, the real value of being an architect who loves his world and is willing to do something for it.”


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New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers 90 degree programs, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, in more than 50 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has 14,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT sponsors 11 NCAA Division II programs and one Division I team.
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