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LI architecture students off to Costa Rica

Students, from left, Crystal Eksi, Dimitrios Malliakas and

Students, from left, Crystal Eksi, Dimitrios Malliakas and Michael Koutsoubis with professor Tobias Holler in a drafting room on the New York Institute of Technology campus in Old Westbury. (Dec. 21. 2011) Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales

Nine New York Institute of Technology students have won a chance to travel to a Costa Rica community to present their creative designs for developing a recycling and education center there.

The three winning designs in a challenge to devise solutions for removing waste will be presented next month in Nosara on the Pacific Ocean coast. The institute's school of architecture and design is funding the trip. The projects incorporate elements of the landscape, including an entry by three students from Long Island who used already downed trees and recycled plastic bottles in building construction. The plan minimizes deforestation and creates a covered educational space.

"We had to consider local materials and what was feasible to do. In the end, it was an experience that was worth it," said third-year architecture student Michael Koutsoubis, 21, of Melville, who along with Dimitrios Malliakas, of East Meadow, and Crystal Eksi, of Smithtown, comprised the design team MCD Costa Rica.

Their group was one of two teams chosen by judges; the third was picked by voters on Facebook in a recent poll. Team Poroso won the most votes out of seven proposals; more than 3,000 votes were cast. The jury of professors from NYIT's School of Architecture and Design selected the MCD Costa Rica and Duality teams for their simple and elegant ideas, good planning and clear presentations.

"They will learn about building in a tropical environment, and experience firsthand the powerful role that design can play in improving life in a rural community," said project leader Tobias Holler, an assistant professor of architecture.

Duality's design focused on two elements: the recycling center and the education facility. The team also addressed the dry season and wet season in Nosara by developing a process to collect rainwater and reduce heat buildup by using reflective roofing materials.

The NYIT students will refine their plans with Sarah Meyland, associate professor of environmental technology, and students from the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences during the spring semester. They will develop the final design as part of a class next semester, based on community input. The final design will be presented to the Costa Rica community for consideration. Veritas University in San Jose, Costa Rica, will serve as the local partner university.

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