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April 23, 2007

Contact: Marisa Ramirez
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EDITORS’ NOTE: Images of the student and her project are available for download at

Fizza Hasan Receives AIA Houston Design Award in Student Category

HOUSTON, April 23, 2007—Reusing and renewing polluted water from a New York City sore spot has earned a University of Houston student honors from the Houston chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The organization awarded Fizza Hasan, fourth-year student in the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, a 2007 Design Award in the student category for her project, “Hydroponics Lab.”

The competition required students to take a real-world problem and be creative in their approach to solving it. The assignment concerned the polluted waters of Newton Creek in Dutch Kills Canal in Queens, N. Y. Newton Creek, located between Long Island City and Greenpoint, is a retention area for industrial pollution. William Truitt, assistant professor in the UH College of Architecture, took his studio class there for an up-close view of the area.

“As sustainable practices grow, it is important to use the design studios as a laboratory for generating sustainable issues that can then be discussed in the working field,” Truitt said. “Fizza is an excellent student, thoughtful and inquisitive. She brought to light sustainable issues in such a way as to be completely embedded in the making of space at every scale.”

Hasan’s design created a system that would renew and reuse the polluted waters. She focused on producing two kinds of vegetative green spaces to beautify and treat the area.

“My plan was to design a natural ground field that would work to clean the contaminated soil using phytoremediation plants that also creates a public green space,” Hasan said. “An artificial, but edible, raised hydroponics field would produce fruits and vegetables that would use the treated water.”

Phytoremediation is a method that decontaminates soil or water using plants that absorb or breakdown pollutants.

“All of this along with our extensive class research had a holistic affect on my design and concept of the project,” said Hasan. “Physically experiencing the site and getting exposed to the culture of New York City gave me insight to the environment and the needs of the site.”

Hasan is expected to graduate in May 2008 with a degree in architecture and hopes to one day work abroad.

For more information on the UH Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, please visit

For more information on the 2007 AIA Houston Design Awards, please visit,

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