Design Project Description - Spring 2017

Find here the comprehensive report of the project, synthesizing the reports of the seprate teams.
(154-page pdf document, 11 MB)

Nature and Scope of the Project

This year, the project was about the re-purposing of a cluster of buildings in Massachusetts.

A church is Southbrigde, MA is letting go of a cluster of four buildings which consists of a church, a rectory, a convent, and a school. These buildings have historical significance and should therefore be re-purposed rather than razed. The goal of the project was to design remodels of the buildings that meet sustainable design criteria, such as energy efficiency, while respecting the historical heritage of the place and meeting the current needs of the local population (which has experienced significant changes since the buildings were erected).

building cluster

The students worked in four teams, each one assigned to a different building. Their questions included:

A local urban developer with vast expertise in this type of work served as a resource. According to this person, it is highly likely that the students' designs will significantly influence the future of these buildings. So, this was a unique chance for the students to have a real impact on major decisions that will be made and thereby also on actual buildings and people's lives.


The term-long design project had the following objectives:

  1. To gain practice with the sustainable building design process;
  2. To gain advanced design experience by including specific historical, social and economic constraints into engineering design;
  3. To develop experience working within a team that includes diverse talents as well as across teams to reach a overarching goal;
  4. To practice presentation and defense of a sustainable design in front of an audience.


Students grouped themselves in teams of about 6 students, and each team worked on a separate building for the duration of the term. Teams proceeded with the corresponding sustainable design project under the supervision of two assigneds TA and the professor, and with consultation with the property owner and the urban developer.

Each project culminated by the end of the term in an oral presentation in front of a review board and the entire class. A 20-to-30 page report suitable for use by property owner and urban developer was also required.


Week 1
Week 2
Weeks 3-5
Week 6
Weeks 7-9
Week 10
Week 11


1st report 2nd report
Background information on the building
(including physical characteristics;
historic and social aspects)
5% -
Background information on the surroundings 3% -
Brainstorming: at least two ideas for re-purposing 10% -
Selection of best re-purpose
Criteria involved in decision
12% -
Specifications & constraints 15% 5%
(first in broad lines, later in details)
15% 15%
Creativity in the design
(first overall, then in details)
20% 10%
Key numbers
Feasibility of the ideas
10% -
Energy analysis:
from sourcing to utilization
- 10%
Other analyses, as pertinent:
ex. water, food, materials
- 10%
Floor plans and computer rendering
of external and internal aspects
- 15%
Quantitative projection of
environmental benefits and impacts
- 10%
Projected social benefits and impacts - 5%
Economic analysis - 5%
Quality of oral presentation
(including ability to answer questions)
10% 10%
Quality of written report - 5%
TOTAL 100% 100%