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Volume 70, Issue 142, Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Cougars design research facility

Minimizing snowdrifts on building tops list of proposed changes

By Jessica Robertson
The Daily Cougar

Several architecture students are making their mark worldwide with an unusual structure -- a research facility on the Greenland Summit that will be built atop 10,000 feet of ice.

The facility is being commissioned by the National Science Foundation in response to a call for more research in the Polar Regions at last year's Group on Earth Observations Summit and Facilities Planning Meeting.

Veronica Honstein, Spencer Howard, Brian Malone, Mayur Patel, Clay Richards, Brian Swartz and Andre Thompson are the students participating in the project.

UH students built this scale model of the Summit Station during the Spring 2005 semester. The station will sit atop nearly 10,000 feet of ice in Greenland.
Courtesy of External Communications 

A trip to Greenland earlier this month gave four of the seven students working on the project the opportunity to conduct on-site evaluations of a temporary plywood model of their design that is now in place on the summit. 

Olga Bannova, a research faculty member with the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture's Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture, traveled with the students and presented UH's design for the summit to NSF members.

"When we went there, we saw the site as it looks now (with the experimental model), and we need to refine our design a bit," Bannova said.

In their initial design, the UH team wanted to create closer lab facilities for the scientists that were more energy efficient and free of pollution.

"Right now, (the scientists) are scattered around in little houses and covered in snow," Bannova said. "They get most of their energy through generators, which create pollution."

The design includes plans for wind turbines and solar panels, which can be shut down to save energy during the winter. Proposed modifications to the original design include solutions to minimize snow drifts around the structure.

The facility includes plans for a three-story building with scientific labs, housing accommodations, an atmospheric and astronomical experiment area on the roof, and a hydroponics greenhouse that will provide fresh vegetables to the crews. Another structure on the grounds will serve as a vehicle maintenance and logistics storage facility.

In addition to support from the VECO Polar Resources Company, UH scientists and New Hampshire University researchers, the design is being considered by NASA as a research facility for space exploration.

The plywood model will be monitored until the end of the year, when its progress will be presented at the annual American Geophysical Union conference. Bannova said she hopes to have a finished design complete for the coming International Polar Year in 2007 and 2008.

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