January 30, 2014

Architecture Student Places Top 9 in Design Competition

Jacob Pfahl, BSA '17

Over the holiday break, Jacob Pfahl, BSA ’17, entered his first architecture competition and came out a finalist.

He did so by answering the question “what if?” posed by PINarchitecture, a monthly competition calling on skilled designers with original ideas. The submissions are judged by a panel of three well-respected architects from around the world. This segment’s prompt inquired: What if a window did not allow light to transfer through, and was instead used to transfer something else?

Pfahl chose to focus on sound. His design, a concrete dome with steel apertures of varying size along the exterior, landed his submission among the top nine of the international competition, alongside only three other American entries.

Each window in the design produces a different sound as the wind passes–the thinner ones creating a higher sound, and the wider ones a lower one. The placement of the windows resembles a sound wave.

Above the dome, far-reaching trees serve as a filter for any rain that may fall. Their screen-like function allows for only a selection of drops to hit the steel apertures, “creating a pleasant melody inside,” said Pfahl.

“The sound is coming from somewhere you don’t really understand,” he continued. “So it’s kind of like you’re connecting with nature through music and sound.”

Pfahl translated the entirety of this complex model into a graphic inside of a circle only four inches in diameter–the allotted space by PINarchitecture for all of its submissions.

“That was the hardest part,” he said.

He attributes his success to the teachings of his first-semester architecture professor Robert Cowherd and the fact that he has the City of Boston at his disposal for architectural exploration.

“We’re right in the middle of a city that has both exciting new and modern buildings, as well as some of the oldest buildings in the world,” he said.

Pfahl plans to enter Wentworth’s master’s program upon graduation, and ultimately incorporate his passion and innovative thinking into his future in the field.

“My ultimate goal would be to own my own firm,” he said. “To find someone like me who has the same drive to change the world around us and build up from where we are.”

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