Update (Oct. 17, 2015): The SURE House by Stevens Institute of Technology is the overall winner.

The 2015 Solar Decathlon is underway in the curious location of Irvine, California.  (See earlier post: The Solar Decathlon: Back to Irvine.)  Faithful readers know I discussed the Decathlon at length in The Solar House and I've offered some criticism of the contest*.

This year I'm following from afar.  I'm looking at the official Decathlon material on their website and Twitter and Flickr.  I'm looking at news stories.  I'm looking at Youtube videos.  And I'm looking at the websites of the teams, and what the teams share on various social media platforms.

What strikes me in my virtual tour is how the "blue-collar" aspects of the activity are celebrated above all else.  Here's a sample screen-grab from the DOE's Flickr page:

First thought---and I absolutely do not mean to denigrate the efforts of the students---does this look like a University-level professional education, or a trade-school activity?  I'm the first to advocate for the value for architecture students to understand construction, and to do so in a hands-on manner.  Nevertheless, to foreground the enterprise in this manner distorts its character, I think, if we can all agree that the primary activity of architecture is design.  It is difficult, at least at this stage, to find the traditional products of architecture such as drawings and models, nor the traditional products of engineering like technical analyses and calculations.  Not to mention new methods like simulations.  You can locate some plans and diagrams, but you have to dig pretty deep.  In other words, I'm simply observing that the design intelligence of the competition is overshadowed by this kind of coverage.  

Help Wanted: The Solar Decathlon
Too Expensive: The Solar Decathlon
The “Shading Decathlon”?