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K-State Today

January 3, 2013

MANKO Window Systems sponsors design competition

Submitted by Marisa Larson

What started out as an idea to improve sales and save money for MANKO Window Systems Inc. of Manhattan has grown into a design competition that is a win-win for the company and K-State’s College of Architecture, Planning and Design.

“MANKO would fly architects and general contractors in to tour the facility and learn about our products. I found more and more we were bringing people in from all over the Midwest and we’d find out that a majority of them went to K-State,” said Kevin Bahner, architectural sales representative at MANKO.

Bahner and Gary Jones, president of MANKO, realized they were missing a great opportunity by not familiarizing architecture students with their company and products while they were still students. Bahner met with Tim de Noble, dean of the college, and they decided a design competition for the students would be a good way for them to partner.

“It was definitely a major win-win for MANKO and the architecture department,” Bahner said. “It was a way to get students to tour the plant, and in turn we supported the program for the competition.”

The competition was designed around the architecture department’s fall fourth-year comprehensive studio.

“This studio is geared toward students integrating holistically conceptual and technical knowledge into one complete project,” said Nathan Howe, the architecture professor in charge of administering the competition. “Each studio was given a different site and program for a building by their instructor. The students then individually conceptualized a design, tested and eventually detailed their design through the semester.”

At the end of the semester, two students from each studio — six students out of 42 — were selected to compete for the MANKO award. They presented their designs to a jury of three professional architects from the Denver and Kansas City areas.

Huiyuan “Leland” Li won the $5,000 award for his design of a fitness center that allows people to do aerobic exercise in a natural way through rock climbing and swimming.

“His design was pure poetics from its initial concept which he was able to push further into his development and eventual detailing of his project,” Howe said. “His detailing was innovative in its use of glass both in its technical detailing but also in the experiential quality it would have on the public as they move through his design.”

The judges were Scott Pashia, a 1992 graduate of K-State’s College of Architecture, Planning and Design who currently works with Nevius Serig Palmer Architecture in Overland Park; Lou Bieker of 4240 Architecture, Inc. in Denver; and Matthew Lawton with Sexton Lawton Architecture LLC, also in Denver.

“The three judges were incredibly impressed with what the students had done,” Bahner said. “They were just blown away with the detail of the projects. They said it was a very tough decision.”

This competition benefits MANKO Windows, K-State and the students. MANKO gets to introduce students who will eventually get jobs all over their service area to their products. The competition helps the architecture college highlight its achievements.

“In inviting guest critics from across the country, the amazing achievements of our students in developing their technical and conceptual knowledge of architecture are reaching a new audience,” Howe said.

In addition, students learn skills that will benefit them in their professions, namely communication.

“The competition serves as one more motivator for the students to learn to communicate clearly their design intent,” Howe said.

All 42 students first had to create a board presentation of their design, forcing them to select the drawings and renderings that best describe it. The six finalists then had to describe their design through a narrative slide presentation.

“Students are learning through these various mechanisms that to build great buildings one has to be able to clearly describe the idea and create images to get buy-in from the audience,” Howe said.

MANKO, a family-owned business in Manhattan, has a long history of supporting Kansas State University. Many buildings on campus have MANKO products in them, including the basketball training facility and the West Stadium Center currently under construction. The MANKO Window Systems Design Competition is just one more way the company and K-State have partnered to benefit all involved and Bahner said he expects the partnership will continue.