Throughout their five years of undergraduate work, Drexel Engineering
students work on projects as teams, learning valuable collaboration and
communication skills that will give them a leg up in the professional world.
For one group of civil, architectural and environmental engineering (CAEE)
students, teamwork was critical to making their senior design project their
most ambitious undertaking yet.
The team — Sara Kakhia, Shane Thompson, Jyrteanna Teo and Katherine Comisac — partnered with Main Line Health to pitch the
healthcare provider a concept for its new senior living facility in
Wynnewood. The task was sizeable, but the team found strength in working
“Our group has realized how critical communication and trust is when working
in a design team,” Comisac said. “Part of the reason we have been able to be
so ambitious with our scope of work is because we trust each other and know
we’re all hard workers.”
The team thought of everything. Taking the architectural, structural,
mechanical, electrical, plumbing and sustainability needs into account, they
created a mixed-use retail and residential senior home with 71 living units,
a restaurant and an on-site pharmacy.
“This design addresses increased demand for senior living in the area and is
meant to encourage a sense of community and increase the wellness
of residents,” Comisac said.
There are common areas on every floor of the building to increase
socialization, with lighting in varying color temperatures to compliment the
residents’ circadian rhythm. A gym, pool and dining hall offer places to
relax and mingle, along with an art studio and salon.
As for sustainability, the site is in a non-forested area, meaning that no
trees need to be cleared before building. There will also be a green roof
installed, which both absorbs excess stormwater and collects it for use in
the bathrooms. The group is also trying to attain a LEED (Leadership in
Energy and Engineering Design) Gold certification for the senior living
facility to emphasize the group’s efforts towards sustainability.
Collaboration was key to getting this project off the ground. The
architectural design began as a team effort, with the group agreeing on the
exterior design and discussing sustainability efforts. Once that was
settled, each member played on their strengths – Kakhia dealt with
structural and daylighting design, Thompson handled plumbing and stormwater
design, Teo was on electrical and lighting design (and also spearheaded the
LEED certification), and Comisac created the mechanical design and 3D
modeling. The work reflects what the students have learned on co-op and will
be pursuing post-graduation.
“We push each other to do our best,” Comisac said, “but are also
understanding that each of us has a lot on our plate. Coordination between
design disciplines is also really important, so having good communication
has been key to us working well as a group.”