Fw: SUNY-Buffalo architecture students design hotels in space (Forward
Spotted on sci.space.news
State University of New York at Buffalo
Release Date: 10/28/97
Contact: Mara McGinnis
UB ARCHITECTURE STUDENTS DESIGN HOTELS IN SPACE,
INCLUDING ONE BUILT INSIDE A 'CAPTURED' ASTEROID
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- What will hotels be like in the year
2045? How about hotels in outer space?
Two teams of students in the University at Buffalo's
School of Architecture and Planning explored the
possibilities as they each designed a "Hotel of the
Future" in a Student Design Competition conducted by the
Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture
The UB projects were among 13 finalists named in the
competition, which involved 561 students from 99
colleges and universities worldwide.
Competitors were encouraged to select remote and unusual
locations for their hotel. Options included: the middle
of a city, in a remote corner of the Earth, underground,
underwater, on top of water or in outer space.
Designers were required to use their imaginations to
come up with a design that would respect its site and
surrounding culture, incorporate local materials and
landscape, satisfy the client's program and delight its
guests -- not an easy task, especially when the site is
The UB teams proposed a modular hotel in orbit 200-250
miles above the planet and a hotel constructed in the
interior of a "captured" asteroid.
Advising the students was Gary Scott Danford, associate
professor of environmental and organizational psychology
in the UB Department of Architecture, who assigned the
project as part of a one-credit course on architectural
programming in Spring 1996.
"I am convinced that beyond the novelty of the site
(outer space), what made these projects finalists was
the student inquiry into and analysis of technical
requirements of the users, guests, staff and
construction workers in a zero-gravity environment, all
of which strongly influenced their subsequent
"This project forced the students to recognize that all
traditional architectural forms were irrelevant and to
start from scratch without assumptions," Danford added.
"The students also learned the importance of
communicating, documenting and justifying their design
Students were allowed to form their own teams and worked
on the project outside of class three hours a week for
According to Danford, his students' achievement is
particularly notable because they only had a fraction of
the time their competitors had. "Other students
typically took an entire semester, or 15 weeks in a 6-7
credit studio, to do this project. My students had five
weeks in a one-credit course," noted Danford.
He also pointed out that other advisors were typically
architects rather than environmental psychologists.
Although Danford is not an architect, in 1983 and 1984
he was a faculty fellow at the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration, where he examined long-term
habitation of space and the psycho-social factors that
influence the design of a space station. His knowledge
in this area helped the students with the technical
content of their projects.
"My role," he said, "was primarily to make sure that the
students acknowledged the difficulty of construction in
zero gravity and the isolated and hostile environment of
outer space, as well as the dramatic changes that occur
(in zero gravity) in the human body, particularly body
posture, all of which pose severe challenges to
conventional architectural design and construction
The entries were judged on quality of design,
construction, presentation and guest experience.
"Gateway Resort 2045" was the name of the winning design
created by a UB team consisting of Chris Martell
(Portland, Maine), Vincent Poon (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Willer
Yu (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Anna Beresniewicz (Webster, N.Y.),
Shantina Moore (Niagara Falls, N.Y.) and Elisabette
Moreira (Asuncion, Paraguay). The hotel's location:
Lower Earth Orbit inside the Van Allen Belt
approximately 28.5 degrees from the equator and "flying"
at a height of 200-250 miles above sea level.
The group incorporated the use of modules to ensure
safety in the event of a pressure breach, as well as to
ease of construction, servicing and reconfiguring. They
also altered the size and shape of individual rooms and
other areas to accommodate new ways of sitting, eating
Advanced computer systems with user-friendly
voice-recognition peripherals were included to monitor
guests' physical well-being, act as a translating device
for the multi-cultured guests and offer means of
communication with Earth.
The second winning UB design -- in which the hotel was
constructed in an asteroid -- was called "Toutatis
4179." It was the brainchild of Jason Benedict (East
Syracuse, N.Y.), Karen Chan (Fanling, Hong Kong), Darren
Hook (Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.), Melissa Morgano (Angola,
N.Y.) and Scott Nunemaker (Rochester, N.Y.).
What made the project difficult, according to Danford,
was the need to "capture" a passing asteroid and then
excavate the interior to create habitable space -- in a
The design involved solar-power stations placed in orbit
around Earth to collect energy from the sun and transfer
it to Toutatis through microwaves and energy converters.
The students chose to inhabit an asteroid because,
according to their statement, the solid mass provided
protection for the guests and because "an asteroid in
pure form represents all that is natural relevant to its
environment and only such a spectacle could allow
freedom and exploration."
Toutatis also was equipped with a museum displaying
technological advances in space exploration, as well as
an escape pod in case of the need for evacuation.
Competition sponsors were ACSA, Wimberly Allison Tong &
Goo, AT&T, Fluor Daniel, Mastercard International,
Microsoft and PT Dharmala Intiland.