2015 Solar Decathlon

Drury Students Collaborate to Build a Home Designed to Respond, Recover and Resist

Drury University Executive Director of Marketing & Communications

Helene Combs Dreiling, president of the American Institute of Architects, recently authored an article in Architect on the subject of resilience.

Dreiling discusses the role of architects in designing and implementing solutions that address the increasing incidence of major natural disasters occurring globally. The AIA’s collaborations with organizations like the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative represents the industry’s commitment to making a difference.


For Drury’s Hammons School of Architecture (HSA) students, resilience is at the forefront of their U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon project. Selected to participate in the 2015 event, Drury and its partner school Crowder College will compete against peers from 19 other colleges nationwide, including Yale, Stanford and Missouri University of Science and Technology.

The partnership between Drury and Crowder is a natural one. Many volunteers who raced to the scene when an EF5 tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri were from the Drury and Crowder communities. The tornado killed 161 people and proved to be the costliest tornado in U.S. history.

In the wake of this disaster, Drury and Crowder students decided this was their opportunity, as Dreiling states in her article about Hurricane Katrina, “to not only rebuild what was wiped away but rather build better…to build communities that would be more resistant to natural disasters.”

With their submission accepted in January, the Drury/Crowder team now begins a two-year process to design and build a solar powered, highly efficient house that combines affordability and innovation with design excellence. To add to that, the Drury/Crowder team plan incorporates the additional challenge of making their home disaster resilient. Named “ShelteR3,” the home will be designed to respond, recover and resist.

Crowder College, a two-year school, has twice before participated in the Solar Decathlon and has a strong program for solar technology and innovative construction technology. Because applicants are now required to have an accredited architecture school, Drury completes the team with the Hammons School of Architecture.

True to Drury’s commitment to the liberal arts, students from all areas of study are able to take part in the team. The formal application was made possible through a partnership between Drury’s Hammons School of Architecture, the Breech School of Business Administration and the Department of Communication.

“This is an interdisciplinary project,” said Traci Sooter, director of the Design/Build program at the Hammons School of Architecture. “It is open to students of all majors, and it’s an incredible opportunity. There’s marketing to do, web design, writing, and more. We welcome all students of diverse backgrounds and skill sets.”

“I’m extremely excited to be involved in such an interdisciplinary project that allows me to utilize all the liberal arts informed skills I’ve picked up while studying at Drury,” said Alaa Al Radwan, a fifth-year architecture student and one of the project leaders. “Seeing so many students from so many different areas of study come together to work on one project is a humbling experience.”

True to form, HSA faculty members inspire students to stay at the leading edge of their industry, while drawing upon their liberal arts foundation. As the priority of design resilience continues to gain momentum in the world of architecture, Drury students will graduate with nationally recognized, real world experience on the subject.