DENVER (KDVR) – It took 22 graduate students from the University of Colorado Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning 19 weeks to finish it, and now their sustainable creation will soon be on its way to its future home in one of the coldest spots on the planet nearly 7,500 miles away.

In an effort to improve living conditions for eight scientists from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service, stationed at the Cape Shirreff field camp, the students have concluded phase one of their two-year design-build program.

That program’s mission is to provide a safe and sustainable home for those researching the maritime ecosystem surrounding Antarctica.

“The new sustainable buildings will enable the continuation of NOAA Fisheries’ long-term research that provides the basis for ecosystem-based management of fisheries in the Southern Ocean. We are proud that this will be purposefully designed to have a minimal environmental impact,” Division Director for NOAA Fisheries’ Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division George Waters said.

According to officials with the NOAA, since it opened back in 1996 there have been band-aid-like repairs applied to extend the life of the current shelter, located on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands off the Antarctic peninsula. This time, however, a complete replacement is needed.

The students presented the completed phase to attendees of the shelter’s revealing on Tuesday, explaining the full scope of the design. Innovative details of the completed first phase include flat-packable prefabricated structures, off-grid power system capability, and resistance to the weather it will be confronted within Antarctica.

“My father believed in me and said, ‘You can do this.’ At that point I pursued my dream of becoming an architect,” said Paola Larios, a CU Denver Colorado Building Workshop graduate student enrolled in the program. “Today, it’s admiring to see more women in the CAP program as we are working a lot harder to stay relevant as designers and professionals at that level.”

In addition to this program giving students hands-on experience, the program is also leading the way in an equal opportunity aspect as 40% of the students that took part were women.

“We are teaching students the project life cycle from start to finish, from the idea and design, to project scope and implementation. It’s great to see collaboration and mutual respect among all students. Having spent my career in male-dominated industries, this project proves women can be in leadership roles,” said Jaime Yelvington, Principle, Bespoke Project Solutions.

The completed structure will be taken apart at the end of June and will then be shipped off to its new home at Cape Shirreff, where a CU Denver team will reassemble it.

The second phase of the project will start in January of 2024. That’s when students will begin the construction of a lab and an observation blind for the Antarctic research site.

The private partnership that the school entered is with OZ Architecture, Bespoke Project Solutions and the NOAA Fisheries division.