Designing for the environment

By Mariel Brunman, Jamie Chang and Gabrielle Franchina

When Jackson Foster ’11 spent a semester at the High Mountain Institute in Colorado during his junior year, he was exposed to and inspired by the sustainable and environmental life style. Now a senior, Foster took on an independent study to experiment with his environmental and artistic interest.

“I designed and hand-drafted plans for a family style house that runs 100 percent on alternative energy,” he said. “Everything is sustainable: from where it gets its water, to having waterless toilets, and woodfire heating instead of air conditioning, and it is all solar energy. There is a well in the back, so it doesn’t get its water from the Department of Water and Power. It wouldn’t be connected to any company underground to get its energy.”

Foster conducted his independent study with his mentor, Alex Kolmanovsky, the set designer at both the middle and upper school campuses. Foster met Kolmanovsky during his sophomore year after getting involved in set design in school productions. Foster had previously drawn three-dimensional designs, and that eventually led to his interest in physically building his ideas.

Before Foster could start executing designs for the self sustainable house, he had to do extensive research. Although Foster started the process expecting very art and design based assignments, he had to research math and science extensively to expand his understanding of architecture.

“I enjoyed doing the math and science research too, but it wasn’t what I expected originally,” he said. After all of the research, Foster started to hand draft the plans for the house.

“I like the artistic part, but it’s meticulous and takes a lot of time too,” he said.

Although Foster has no interest in building sustainable housing as a career, he found the experience rewarding.

“If I ever found myself settling down in a house, I would like to live in a house with sustainable or alternative energies. I couldn’t see myself anywhere else,” he said.