Solar Decathlon: University of Maryland's "reACT" by Alexander Dzurec


The office is still buzzing from our Denver weekend, so we’ve decided to share our Solar Decathlon excitement with you!

Today we’re highlighting the University of Maryland’s entry: reACT (Resilient Adaptive Climate Technology).


This design had it all! It was obvious that this team thought through every element of their self-reliant and efficient home. Their focus was to create homes that integrate native environments by utilizing solar energy, water, and food. Maryland looked to the native traditions of their local tribes for inspiration; resulting in a building system that is adaptable and responsive to diverse communities and ecosystems. Built in a modular assembly structure, their design was customizable and reconfigurable to suit specific needs of each family.


The home implemented a solar energy system, but also included systems that recycled heat as a resource, gray and rain water to produce clean water, enabled residents to use less water, and supported self-sufficiency, clean energy and off-the-grid living through many additional “reACTive” systems. 


We particularly loved their indoor and outdoor garden spaces and green walls, as well as their food drying rack that retracted from the ceiling!

Two thumbs up team Maryland!!!!!! 

The Solar Decathlon 2017 by Alexander Dzurec


What an incredible time at the Solar Decathlon in Denver! We took a company trip to check out the technologies these National & International University/College teams have implemented into their Solar Design submissions. It was educational & inspirational - now we're back; refreshed and excited to dive into all of our new ideas!

If you're in Denver soon, definitely don't miss this opportunity!  

Click here to learn more about Autotroph and our team.


Village in the Bosque is LEED Platinum by Alexander Dzurec

We are pleased to announce that our Village in the Bosque has received LEED-H Platinum certification! This affordable housing community not only provides residents with an affordable rental home, it also provides them with significant savings on energy bills and healthy homes for families and seniors. Thank you to our client, the Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority; Contractor, Pavilion Construction, LEED-H provider, Green Insight; Energy Modeler Steve Onstad; and our own Project Manager Brett Linker for an amazing job


Last weekend was the Grand Opening of the MEOW WOLF Art Complex in Santa Fe – a combination art installation and multi-use arts facility – And it was AMAZING!  It was great to see so many people, of all walks of life, come out to experience this innovative arts complex.   This is a true community arts project that involved over 200 artists, fabricators, technicians and volunteer laborers.  It features exhibit space, a makers’ space, youth learning center, an art gallery, a gift shop and a 300 person performance space.  The main component is the HOUSE OF ETERNAL RETURN, an immersive Art Installation that will blow your mind.  

Our firm has been fortunate to be involved in this project from its inception through to the design, permitting and build-out.  We worked closely with the core creative team from Meow Wolf, the general contractor Constructive Assets, exhibition space contractor Ragano & Careccio Inc., City of Santa Fe staff and our excellent consultant team to help make this project a reality. 

We viewed our role as a design facilitator.  We listened to all the great ideas and worked with our team members to translate these into design documents. We were brought in early in the process when Meow Wolf decided to transform the old Silva Lanes Bowling alley into an innovative arts center in the Siler-Rufina District of Santa Fe.

Firm Principal Alexander Dzurec worked closely with the Meow Wolf Core creative team, about a dozen visionary artists, to translate their dreams and ideas into reality with floor plans, elevations, and infrastructure improvements.  A complex task indeed for the variety of spaces envisioned, not to mention the center piece installation: The House of Eternal Return.  This installation features an intricate maze spaces that allows visitors to become immersed in an alternate reality.  Over 135 artists, along with numerous volunteers, technicians and fabricators worked tirelessly to create this fantasy environment.   Throughout the process, we simultaneously incorporated their ideas into the plans and drawings needed to move forward and ensured that all the nitty gritty issues like fire protection, emergency exits, accessibility, restrooms, lighting and so on were all addressed in the plans submitted to the City of Santa Fe for approval. 

We are grateful to the City of Santa Fe for their support of this project - the Mayor’s endorsement and City’s Staff timely approvals and inspections not only benefited this project but also the entire community by generating employment across many sectors, supporting the youth in the arts, and perhaps most importantly, being a catalyst to spur additional cultural and economic revitalization of the Siler-Rufina district.

We encourage anyone who lives in, or is visiting, Santa Fe to come visit Meow Wolf, over and over again. Tickets are available through the Meow Wolf website. 

Learn more about our involvement in the project here.



Village in the Bosque - Grand Opening by Alexander Dzurec


Our Village in the Bosque project is nearly complete! We celebrated the Grand Opening in November and residents are moving in now as landscaping and park improvements are finalized. This 98-unit affordable housing project in downtown Bernalillo involved the design of new and renovated dwellings and public areas. The project features a community-focused master plan to improve connectivity to the adjacent street grid, internal pedestrian-oriented streets, a park, play area and community building. The community includes duplex and stand-alone single family homes comprised of both one and two story structures, varied roof forms and front porches to promote architectural variety in the community. Thank you to our client, the Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority, the Town of Bernalillo and all the members of the design team for all your hard work to make this a success!

Autotroph Places in the B-More Resilient Competition! by Alexander Dzurec

Autotroph, in association with Renata Southard, were honored to win the Honorable Mention award for the "Best Resilient Concept for and Existing Community" in the B-More Resilient Competition last week!  Our entry, DIRT, focused on a big picture idea to re-make Baltimore's infrastructure network into  a a distributed and interconnected infrastructure and technology system.  It utilizes the concept of interconnected micro- grids to ensure resiliency in the event of catastrophe, but also to maintain stability in day to day usage of utilities and services.  We had the pleasure of working with Renata Southard on the Entry.  She is an M. Arch Candidate at the University of Maryland and was an exceptional team member and resource.  You can learn more about Renata on her Blog:  Many thanks to Renata and to the competition Jury.  Here is a link to the Baltimore AIA Website featuring our entry: 

Autotroph proposes an innovative approach for renewable energy production & storage for waterfront communities. by Alexander Dzurec

With the carbon age coming to an end, humanity will transition to a new human epoch powered by the natural elements of wind, sun and water.  To this end, Autotroph has conceived a radical approach for green energy & infrastructure on waterfront sites .  Developed as a submission to the 2014 Land Art Generator Initiative Competition, Battery H2O is an innovative take on a pumped storage hydroelectricity system.  The site is a waterfront property in the Refshaleøen development in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Utilizing sun and wind power, water from Copenhagen Harbor is pumped into elevated storage tanks, made from re-purposed oil tanker hulls.  The hulls act as a giant battery, storing potential energy in the form of water, and generating power through hydroelectric turbines.   The water battery system is tied into a mico-grid in Refshaleøen and a control center monitors & controls the flow of energy (water) to the local grid.  Battery H20 has enough storage capacity to power the nearly 2,000,000 SF development for 2.5 days of no solar or wind energy input.

Battery H20 is also a public park to anchor the redevelopment of Refshaleøen, a former shipyard in Copenhagen, Denmark.  In this park, people will come to gather, recreate and wander amongst a series of monoliths made from re-purposed oil tanker hulls, the most recognizable symbol of the Carbon age.  However, the hulls are now filled with water as a medium to store electrical power.  A regenerative site plan re-introduces a Baltic Sea coastal ecosystem and acts as a filter to cleanse the water of Copenhagen Harbor.  Additional program is added to the site, creating attractions to draw visitors to this far-flung corner of the harbor and spur the redevelopment of Refshaleøen .

For more info on Battery H2O click here


Autotroph collaborated with the following people in the development of Battery H2O:

James Stodgel of Only Green Design

Daniel Martinez of Martinez Design Group

Brian Combs of Santa Fe Community College Sustainable Technologies Center

Erin English of Biohabitats



Embudo Valley Library by Alexander Dzurec

Autotroph is pleased to introduce the Embudo Valley Library.  Opened in 2014, this new facility is the result of years of work with the community, library board, Executive Director Felicity Fonseca and Paragon Construction.  This 3,000 SF facility is a community gem, providing residents with access to its 20,000+ volume collection, meeting space, computer resources, children's and teen collections.  The building features passive solar features including ventilated trombe walls and adobe construction.  Abundant daylight and natural ventilation further contribute to the aggressive energy conservation targets.  Also included in the project was the renovation of the former library (an historic house) into a community center.  For more info on the project visit the project page here.

Our Re-Barn concept was just featured in the Chesapeake Current Magazine by Alexander Dzurec

Autotroph is pleased to announce that our Re-Barn Concept is the focus of a recent article in the Chesapeake Current.  The Re-Barn is an innovative approach to the preservation and adaptive reuse of Southern Maryland tobacco barns.  With the decline of tobacco as a cash crop, many of these structures are being lost to neglect and sprawl development.  This concept adapts & preserves a barn's skin while inserting a energy efficient panelized home inside the barn structure.  A series of operable flaps, panels and shutters are inserted into the barn's skin allowing the residents to control openings for solar gain and privacy considerations.  When closed the home appears as a traditional tobacco barn and when open, it takes on the appearance of a contemporary home.  Please see the below link to the article or click here for the project page.