Back to Blog June 3, 2016

Temple University’s “B3OCC Pavilion” Team Wins Second Place in ACMA’s First Ever Composites in Architecture Design Challenge

Author: Karly Grindstaff
Temple team photo

Temple University's team at the Composites in Architecture Design Challenge awards ceremony

From the AIA Press Release dated May 20, 2016, (Philadelphia, Pa.) – Students from the Architecture Program at the Temple University Tyler School of Art have won second place in the American Composites Manufacturers Association’s (ACMA) first ever Composites in Architecture Design Challenge, sponsored by Ashland Performance Materials. Top designs from the competition will be on display in ACMA’s Composites Pavilion at the American Institute of Architects’ 2016 Convention in Philadelphia – May 19-21, 2016. As a top three finisher, Temple’s team will also receive a cash prize.

For the challenge, ACMA’s Architectural Division asked students to work in teams to develop an innovative composite architectural/building component or assembly. The teams were encouraged to explore and invent new, and sometimes radical, architectural designs.

Ashland Performance Materials and Windsor Fiberglass provided the materials for Temple’s project, including Ashland HETRON FR 650 T-20 resin.  The students’ paper noted a number of advantages of using fiberglass for this type of project. First, the weight of the structure is much lower than it would be if wood or steel were used. As a result, it has a much higher strength-to-weight ratio. The lightness of the structure also results in significant cost savings – potentially thousands of dollars in comparison to wood or steel. 

“Through our research we came across countless claims that this composite material had the potential to be the lightest and strongest building material so far,” said associate architecture professor Brian Szymanik. “So we wanted to test how strong and how light we could make it.”

Under the direction of Szymanik, Temple University students Daniel Cruz, Sean Moss, and Kerry Hohenstein created an alternative design for Philadelphia’s storied Schuylkill River Grandstands in Fairmount Park. The students’ re-design, known as the “B3OCC Pavilion” (B3 Pavilion Optimized Composites Colonnade), accommodates over 700 spectators for crew races along the river. The pavilion is a semi-transparent, web-like structure made with fiberglass composites. 


The final model of the three-column system for Temple University’s B3OCC Pavilion


“We came up with a version of the pultrusion technique, which is a form of fabrication for FRP (Fiber Reinforced Plastics) beams,” explained Szymanik. “Multiple spools of roving are pulled through a resin bath, saturated with the mixture and pressed together, finally heated to quicken the catalyzing process. This can produce an endless length of beam or column in whatever shape depending on the dye – or mold – used. We utilized recycled water bottles and single roving fiberglass to saturate and weave each individual strand onto the mold. A hole in the water bottle’s cap determined how much or how little resin content there was for each trial.”

Szymanik says that by using composites, the team was able to create an awe-inspiring design.

“The juxtaposition between this airy web-like structure and a raised platform, able to support a multitude of people and activity - as well as passively light the space at night due to the resin’s added phosphorescent content - creates a sense of awe at any time of the day, at any time of the year,” says Szymanik . “That is the impact we wanted for our project, and that is the feeling we get whenever we look at our project.”