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K-State Today

September 27, 2019

APDesign architecture students win 2019 Studio Prize

Submitted by Thom Jackson

A studio in Kansas State University's College of Architecture, Planning & Design, known as APDesign, was one of five selected nationally as winners of the Journal of the American Institute of Architects' Studio Prize.

Now in its fourth year, the prize celebrates excellence in design education by recognizing thoughtful, ethical studio courses from accredited architecture schools. The students enrolled in the winning courses receive a cash prize from a $25,000 purse furnished by the program’s exclusive sponsor, Sloan.

The winning APDesign studio included 14 fifth-year Master of Architecture students. As part of their yearlong architecture design thesis studio, led by Wendy Ornelas, professor of architecture, and Fuensanta Nieto, Regnier Distinguished Chair, the students were asked to explore how to introduce migrants in Granada, Spain, to a new country and a new way of life.

The students performed an intensive research program on the Albaicín neighborhood in Granada, Spain, which has been a locus for African migrants. In late fall 2018, the students took a two-week trip to Spain, including a week in Granada, to better understand the impact of migrant resettlement, and then developed design solutions to health, education and integration challenges faced by Spain’s migrant community. They were able to compare their research findings with real-world conditions — an experience that challenged their initial assumptions about the site in Granada, and caused many to rethink their original projects. Upon return to K-State, the students spent the spring semester refining and deepening their proposals, so that their final projects included detailed schemes — down to mechanical systems and construction budgets.

The jury felt that this mix of intensive research and design made for a set of projects that were not just attractive, but sensitive to a mounting humanitarian crisis.

“They’re serving those who are disproportionately affected, not as a design solution, but as a form of caring and healing through architecture,” said juror Bryan C. Lee Jr, design director at Colloqate, New Orleans.

Ornelas said the experience showed students the value of deep research and the importance of marrying that information with a coherent and persuasive argument for their proposal.

“They really had to understand the program, which taught them that they need to have a compelling story to tell clients,” she said. “If you don’t understand what you’re doing, you’re never going to sell anything as a professional.”

The APDesign students who participated in the course were Tara Bray, Niklas Carlson, Kasey Holle (student work submitted); Lauren Bailey, Kathleen Eberth, Morgan Gales, Tucker Glasse, Brandon Heide, Regan Kerfeld, Logan Medrano, Andrew Rash, Alexandra Wilson, Chandlor Wilson and Kathryn Zieno.

Additional guidance for the studio was provided by Chris Fein, visiting assistant professor; Elizabeth Amirahmadi, founding partner of International Architects Atelier; John Shreve and Alfredo Baladrón.

In addition to Lee, the jury included Thomas Fisher, Dayton Hudson Chair in Urban Design, University of Minnesota School of Architecture, College of Design and director, Minnesota Design Center, Minneapolis; and Carol Ross Barney, design principal at Ross Barney Architects, Chicago.