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Building Institute

The Building Institute is UL Lafayette’s integrated project delivery, design-build program. The program brings architecture students, architects, engineers and contractors together in the design and construction of single-family, market-rate homes. The homes are built on infill property in the urban core neighborhoods of Lafayette, Louisiana and then publically sold at a market-rate. Students work hand-in-hand with local contractors to build the homes which achieve sustainability standards such as the National Homebuilder’s Green Building Standard or LEED. The Building Institute is structured through a graduate design studio in the fall, a construction documents course in the spring and the construction course in the summer. Students receive academic credit for each course and in addition, several team leaders receive paid summer internships allowing them to accrue IDP credit. The Building Institute is not a simulation- it is hyper-reality. As architect-developers, the students become agents of change.
Building Institute
Building Institute19/08/2017 @ 13:37
Wrap-up to my stay in the MODESTEhouse

After 11 days and 114 hours in the MODESTEhouse I can say with certainty that it is very livable. I cooked, showered, slept, and habitated very comfortably and I am sure I could live there much longer. Obviously I missed my family and I would probably eventually miss some of my belongings but there was serenity and simplicity in the MODESTEhouse. I have written about the best buildings and building processes as being “unhurried.” That is how I felt in the tiny house.

We have a “punchlist” of items to correct and finish in the MODESTEhouse over the next month and soon we will be turning it over to Lafayette Habitat for Humanity and helping them to move it to a homeowner’s site. When we turn-it over we will have a public dedication for everyone to see the home and to thank all the people and companies who made this incredible project a reality. Thanks for listening to all my musings over the past two weeks. If you have additional questions feel free to message me. Talk to you soon!

(Image: Porch ceiling of the MODESTEhouse)
Building Institute
Building Institute added 2 new photos.17/08/2017 @ 19:59
MhT day 11 aug. 16

By the numbers:

216 sf including porch and loft
8'-6" wide
13'-10" high
34" off ground
24' long + trailer tongue
Approx. 8,000 lbs.
Half-ton truck adequate for towing
1 ton/1 zone minisplit heat pump
4- 250 watt pvs
2- 30 lb. propane tanks
5.3 gal. Propane tankless water heater
100 amp panel
7 duplex outlets
8 LED light fixtures
70 shelves in the storage grid
10 gallons of adhesive to glue shells
110 sheets of 1/8" plywood in shells
206 sf of polycarbonate
$70 worth of groceries for 2 weeks
Building Institute
Building Institute17/08/2017 @ 19:37
MhT day 11 aug. 17

By the numbers:

114 hours spent in the house over 11 days
10.36 hours on average per day
Building Institute
Building Institute17/08/2017 @ 19:21
MhT day 11 aug. 17

By the numbers:

44 gallon greywater tank
11 days to fill up from sink and shower
11 days to fill 2-1/2 gal. liquid tank in compost toilet
30-45 days until solids tank needs to be added to the compost heap
Building Institute
Building Institute added 2 new photos.17/08/2017 @ 18:55
MhT day 11 aug. 17

Recycling and trash after 11 days.
PROJECT CATEGORY : Featured / Homes / Large Projects





Lafayette, Louisiana


The COURhouse is the third market-rate, sustainable home in the UL Lafayette Building Institute’s Neighborhood Infill Program which was designed and built during the 2012-2013 school year. Its name comes from the home’s prominent feature, a centralized courtyard connecting the living room and kitchen to the outdoors, offering residents a sense of openness. The courtyard is accessible through a large 10’ x 7’ glass roll up door from the kitchen, two sliding glass doors from the living room, and French doors to the master bedroom. The front porch is wrapped in reclaimed cypress wood from an 1800’s home in Arnaudville, LA. Clerestory windows and sliding glass doors allow light to flood into the spacious living room and the kitchen’s 16’ vaulted ceilings. A large exposed beam runs through the living room extending out to the front porch and exposed rafters line the living room ceiling. The interior finishes give the home an industrial feel with concrete floors, custom concrete countertops, reclaimed corrugated metal, and steel angle backsplashes. Sustainability features of the home include a 4 kw PV panel system on the roof, an instantaneous gas heater, advanced wood framing, and energy efficient appliances. It was designed according to LEED Silver criteria.


Project Delivery:

Design-bid-build (Students designed the project, produced construction drawings, bid the project, and worked with a contractor to build the home) 55% students and 45% contractors/subcontractors.


Square Footage:

1,508 sf interior, 600 sf of covered porches



$170,000 (w/o land)


Design Duration:

August 2012 to May 2013 = 260 days


Construction Duration:

Jun 2013 to January 2014 = 290 days



Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority (Financing)

Ragin’ Cajun Facilities Inc. (Owner)


Faculty Leads:

W. Geoff Gjertson, AIA, Professor


Other Faculty:

Jenny Kivett


Supporters and Donors:

Construction Associates (Contractor)


LA Solar Solutions



Nicholas Clesi


Abigail Comeau


Liran Timiansky


Barrett Bertrand


Jennifer Young


Daniel Ferg


(+ 20 other students during construction)

UL Lafayette School of Architecture and Design
PO Box 42811 . Lafayette, LA . 70504