Texas Tech University

Architecture Student Wins National Design Competition

Kristen Barton

November 9, 2016

Tall Building

Mario Ramos won first place in the Tall Building category.


Mario Ramos, a graduate student from Brownsville studying architecture, won first place in the Tall Building category in the ACSA/AISC Steel Student Design Competition. The prize for the national competition was $2,500.

“The competition is focused on trying to solve the issue of the tall building/high-rise being a sculptural piece that can be placed in any country and not be inspired by its location,” Ramos said. “It's also focused on sustainable and social issues.”

Participating in these competitions allows students to showcase their unique talents on national and international platforms, said Jim Williamson, dean of the College of Architecture. Exposure allows students and faculty to connect to larger discussions about the profession.

“Our ability to compete, and win, is a testament to our College's dedication to the education of world-class graduates from Texas Tech,” Williamson said. “We look forward to fostering and furthering this national and international discussion through our course work, design studios and evolving pedagogy.”

Ramos learned about the competition from his faculty adviser Peter Raab, a professor in the College of Architecture, in one of his classes. Ramos was so excited to take Raab's studio class and submit his designs for competition, he logged into Raiderlink 30 minutes before registration opened to make sure he would get a seat.

Once he started the class, Ramos said he was not focused on competing, but more so on designing a tall building, since few studio classes focus on skyscrapers and high-rises.

“I wanted to approach the challenge with the goal of learning to become a better architect for the future,” he said. “I was inspired by two classes I had taken during my time as an undergraduate.”

In the class, Ramos worked on his design with input from Raab and other students. The class offered constructive criticism for designs throughout the semester.

“Oftentimes, as an architecture professor, it is more about getting the students to ask the right questions as opposed to giving them answers,” Raab said. “Throughout the semester, we had several dozen conversations about his design intentions, and I tried to assist him in getting his language, imagery and design closer to what was needed.”

The idea for his design was to reduce food travel steps from farm to consumer and create a source of food in an urban core. This could help promote a healthy, sustainable lifestyle and provide plots of land for community garden areas.

Ramos spent an intensive amount of time researching the topic. He drew ideas from books, online journals and documentary films. 

Ramos had fun creating the design, despite a rough start. After looking back over his sketchbooks, he realized he had not settled on a final form for the building until there was roughly a month and a half left in the Spring semester.

“We had to submit all the information we wanted in four posters that told the story of our project to convince the jury,” Ramos said. “But after all that, I'm glad I gave it my all and invested all the time I could into coming up with a successful project.”

Ramos and Raab celebrated when they received the news he won first place. And are looking forward to more competitions in the future.

“I was so extremely happy to receive the news. It is an acknowledgment of his hard work, dedication and passion for his design,” Raab said. “This is great for broadcasting the fine work happening in the College of Architecture at Texas Tech University, but also it honestly could not have been awarded to a better student.”

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