DCA Announces Inaugural Winners of The Founders Prize

DCA is excited to announce the winners of its inaugural internal design competition, “The Founders Prize.” This yearly event, named in honor of DCA Founders Linda Derivi, AIA-Emeritus, and Steve Castellanos, FAIA, aims to showcase the talents of the firm’s Emerging Professionals. The competition provides an opportunity for teams of two to develop innovative design solutions for a selected project recently awarded to DCA. The primary goal is to foster creativity, collaboration, and presentation skills among the firm’s rising stars.

The 2024 Founders Prize focused on the New Bret Harte Middle School project, awarded to DCA by the Hayward Unified School District in December 2023. The winning pair, Andrea Gomez and Christian Bernard, captured the judges’ attention with their innovative approach to the design challenge. Their concept emphasized the significance of organic design, incorporating outdoor green areas, and seamlessly blending interior and exterior elements. By introducing inventive ideas such as a three-story building layout, green roofs, and creative use of space, the Gomez-Bernard entry stood out for its thoughtful consideration of the client’s requirements and site constraints. Both winners expressed their appreciation for the chance to participate in the competition and praised the learning opportunities it offered.

Andrea Gomez shared their winning concept, stressing the importance of teamwork, creativity, and integrating nature into the educational environment. Andrea found great satisfaction in “seeing our vision realized and collaborating with Christian.” Christian Bernard highlighted the value of site visits in shaping their design choices and the importance of teamwork in overcoming obstacles. Christian’s most rewarding aspect of the competition was “learning the significance of teamwork in design, understanding the need for compromise, effective communication, and leveraging diverse perspectives within a team to enhance the final result.”

DCA celebrates Andrea Gomez and Christian Bernard on their achievement in winning the inaugural Founders Prize and looks forward to supporting the firm’s talent and innovation throughout the year.