The firm says it wanted to see house designs that were both cost-effective and buildable. "There were some serious budgetary and size constraints," says Dylan O'Donnell, marketing director for Billes and co-manager of the competition. "When you have to be parsimonious and green at the same time, it's very challenging, but those challenges allowed some great innovation and some great designs."

From a group of 10 finalists, a panel of judges selected five winning designs:

  • Forever Green, by David Dworkind and Andrew Hruby, McGill University, Montreal;

  • The Excursion, by Michael Benkert, University of Cincinnati;

  • Breezeway, by Jessica Dan and Hamza Alhbian, McGill University;

  • The Lakeview House, by Thomas Colosino and David Lachin, Louisiana State University; and

  • New Datum for a Topography Under Water, by Justin Boulanger and Ann Rodgers, McGill University.

    (View our slideshow of the top five winners at the bottom of the page.)

    According to Billes, the winning designs weren't necessarily the ones that scored highest in any one judging category, but rather those that received consistently high rankings from the judges across categories. The designs were each evaluated based on a review of their graphic design submissions, completeness of the entry, energy conservation, aesthetics, affordability, feasibility, and constructability.

    The competition judges included Martin C. Pedersen, executive editor of Metropolis magazine; Matt Petersen, president and CEO of Global Green USA; Miyoko Ohtake, associate editor of Dwell magazine; Brian Fichtner, design editor of; Lawrence C. Gibbs, CEO of Gibbs Construction, New Orleans; and several Billes Architecture staff members.

    Finalist teams were flown to New Orleans for the announcement of the top five winning designs. In addition to the chance to have their designs built, the five winners were awarded $1,000 cash prizes.

    Continued on next page.