Awards & Honors

Alum Wins Vectorworks Competition Using Wood to Combat Climate Change

Ahmed Helal B Arch ’22 is the winner of an international award from the Vectorworks Design Scholarship. Helal’s project, “Mass Timber,” is one of 22 projects from 11 countries in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, interior design and entertainment, that was chosen out of a field of more than 1,000 submissions. The award comes with $3,000 for educational purposes.

“Mass Timber” takes on climate change through use of materials to create change in the construction industry.

“Currently, Mass Timber is being situated in a discussion of material substitution on the account that wood is better for the environment than steel and concrete. However, in order to reach the level of convergence of the GHGs emissions needed, it is not going to happen merely through a material substitution mentality, but through reimagining the way we think about our building strategies/assumptions and the potential role of timber in a broader scale cognition of substitutions,” said Helal.

“The proposition here is to look at timber not simply as a substitute structural material, but as a holistic building system that provides alternative ways to think about building structure as well as building strategies. Insulation, provision of heat and cooling, humidity control, finishing, etc. If those functions get merged into one system, timber will have much more value not only from its potential ecological and environmental impact, but also from a capital standpoint as there will be clear reasons and motivations to consider timber, which can substantially transform the construction industry.”

Helal was valedictorian of his Spitzer School class. In 2022, he won the John A. Notaro Memorial Scholarship for his proposal “Monumentality and Public Space,” questioning the existing architecture of Untermyer Park and Gardens in Yonkers, N.Y.  While at CCNY, he interned at the renowned architecture firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. Helal currently works at Robert A.M. Stern Architects in New York City.

Richard Diehl founded Vectorworks, Inc., the company that created the first 3D modeling software programs and the first cross-platform CAD application.