Alfred State students in the Architecture and Design department are helping to improve the quality of the built environment in Allegany County and the surrounding region through a number of Southern Tier Architectural Resource (STAR) Center civic engagement projects.
The STAR Center is a collaboration of two organizations in the department: the Architecture Club and the Interior Design Club, which, through the promotion of sound design and planning principles, seek to enhance the local built environment.
Last semester, architectural technology majors Jeremy Dearing, of Allentown, PA, and Andrew Scott, of Arverne, NY, proposed designs for a project at Pioneer Park in Dansville. The project involved creating a place for a monument marking the park as Dansville’s first cemetery - where many are still interred - as well as landscaping and lighting work.
“What the clients were proposing was fairly low impact and it was really meant to just formalize the park and create a place for a new monument that they had already made,” said Bill Dean, chair of the department of Architecture and Design. “Most of the time you would create the plan first and then place the monument. They had the monument first and it was like, ‘All right, where do we put it?’
“Jeremy and Andrew worked on that and talked about two different possible locations for the monument and did renderings of what that might look like, just to kind of give them some guidance.”
Dearing said, “I’m very glad that I was able to get some real hands-on experience with actual clients.”
In the fall of 2013, Dean said, two students through the STAR Center also presented designs for a project that involved placing a welcome sign in downtown Bath. The clients ultimately chose architectural technology major and Syracuse, NY, native Katie Dussing’s plan.
“We’ve done a lot of these conceptualizations but we’re starting to see more activity with actually implementing them,” Dean said, “which is nice because it’s great to have the ideas on paper but you want to see them built at some point.”
Since 2013, according to Dean, the STAR Center students have undertaken eight typically infrastructure-related civic engagement projects, mainly in the Southern Tier. Potential upcoming projects include conceptual planning for a pocket park in Scio, documenting existing conditions for a veterans’ center in Rushford and for a building in downtown Buffalo, and a master plan for Lions Camp Badger in Spencer, NY.
Another project involves two students working with the Alfred State Sustainability Committee on converting an L-shaped area near the Central Dining Hall into a community garden.
“It’s not a huge space, it’s not a big project, but any place we can help, we’re happy to give the students that type of experience,” Dean said. “We don’t know if the garden is going to be edibles or perennials. That hasn’t been decided yet.”
Libby Dussault, an architecture and interior design student, from Horseheads, NY, said the STAR Center provides an awesome opportunity for students.
“It’s a good way to meet and work with other people and form relationships and learn how to work on a project with someone else because we do a couple of partner projects in the studio but nothing that has follow-through and you don’t see the end result and I think working with clients, that’s a good opportunity, too,” she said.
Dean noted, “These students are actually getting that experience of talking to people about their problems and helping them develop solutions to the extent that they can do that through an academic exercise, so I think it really provides a tremendous experience for the students that they’re not going to get in every architecture program.”
Pictured in photo above are, from top, counter-clockwise, Alfred State architectural technology majors Jeremy Dearing and Andrew Scott, and members of the Pioneer Park Committee Patricia Kreiley, Paul Hoffman, and Jane Schryver. The students worked with the committee members on a civic engagement project at Pioneer Park in Dansville last semester through the college’s Southern Tier Architectural Resource (STAR) Center.
The village of Savona recently received some help with envisioning its comprehensive plan after Alfred State architecture students presented their designs for the future layout of the municipality Oct. 28 at the Campbell-Savona Elementary School.
Village officials and roughly 25 residents listened as 10 students in Professor William Dean’s Urban Design Studio class shared their visions for five sections of Savona. These included a residential area, the Cohocton River Trail, the western side of town, a mixed use commercial area, which would feature a senior living community, and the Four Corners area, which would include a boutique hotel and a Dollar General that matches the look of the surrounding buildings.
“The goal was to create a vision from the work that the community had already done as far as further developing what they wanted in the comprehensive plan,” said Dean, chair of the Department of Architecture and Design. “We tried to remain as faithful to that document as possible. That’s not to say that the students didn’t bring their own design experience into it, but I kept driving home the point throughout the project that we wanted our work to be an extension of the comprehensive plan.”
The students spent eight weeks on the project, which began in August with a tour of the village led by Mayor Gregge Harrian, and included an interim critique by a panel composed of Harrian; Nicolette Barber, a planner from HUNT Engineers, Architects and Surveyors out of Horseheads; and members of the village’s Comprehensive Plan Committee.
“After meeting with the mayor and the committee, the students took their comments to heart and continued to develop their designs for the final presentation,” Dean said.
According to Dean, the students’ designs received a lot of positive feedback throughout the process and were well-received during the presentation.
Brittany Varengo, an architectural technology major from Syracuse, said, “We were able to connect to the people on a personal level and know that our hard work was appreciated.”
Architecture students in Design Studio 1 at Alfred State were able to actualize their plans for a housing-design project and gain hands-on experience thanks to A-Verdi Storage Containers, which let the students borrow a shipping container to use in their endeavor.
Architecture and Design Department Assistant Professor Terry Palmiter and Professor Richard Carlo tasked the students last month with designing a temporary living environment for a single family unit within the confines of a standard 20-foot shipping container. They were divided into 15 groups of three, with one student serving as the programmer, another as the client, and the third student as the designer.
The programmer interviewed the client, who created a hypothetical scenario based on what his or her future family would be like and what sort of housing that family would require if affected by a natural disaster. The programs were shuffled and handed out to a group member who would design a “house” based on the program he or she received.
Students then created real-scale household items out of cardboard, including a toilet, a tub, a refrigerator, and more. This, according to Carlo, allowed students to study human dimensions and the relationship to critical or essential residential living activities.
“The idea of making the cardboard items was so that they could just start to see the limits of what one container was like and maybe get a feel for the interaction of scale of standard objects based on human performance within a limited space like the container,” said Carlo.
The class was able to secure usage of the container because an uncle of one of Palmiter’s students, Robert Apgar, an architectural engineering technology major, from Waterloo, owns Savannah-based A-Verdi Storage Containers, the premier provider of storage and office solutions throughout New York State. After Apgar approached his uncle, Joe Verdi, about the possibility of letting the students borrow a container, Verdi complied.
The container gave students a chance to apply their plans to an actual, limited-space area.
“Normally, it’s just lines on a drawing,” said Alexandra DiMaria, a Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) major from Orchard Park. “You can imagine it and picture it but it’s nice to be actually in a space with life-sized objects to kind of see how you can change your design and move things around and how things would work out better, what constraints you have. It makes the assignment more real.”
Adrienne Drumm, a BArch major from Tully, said the project allowed the students to think about space a lot differently.
“In most of our projects, we have an unlimited amount of space, we just have to come up with a good idea, so you just kind of make these giant rooms and do whatever, but once you actually are forced to fit within a 10-by-20 container, you really have to think about how you’re going to fit everything you need in there without having to climb over a desk, basically,” Drumm said.
Carlo said, “I think part of the reason that we do this project with a container is, if you say, ‘Design a house,’ people tend to fix on the mental model of the house they grew up in and they mimic that. But when we say, ‘Design a living facility for this imaginary program that we’ve made and, by the way, it has to be in containers,’ they have to rethink the entire idea of what a house is.”
Pictured above are several Alfred State sophomore Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) students inside the container they utilized for a recent housing-design project. The students borrowed the container from A-Verdi Storage Containers out of Savannah.
Three Alfred State professors in the Architecture and Design Department recently took some of their students on an educational one-day field trip to New York City, where they toured a number of sites such as the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.
The group consisted of Professor Rex Simpson and his 16 fourth-year architectural technology students in the Urban Design Studio, Associate Professor Alex Bitterman and his 15 interior design students, and Professor Richard Carlo and his 15 sophomore Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) students in Design Studio 1. They departed for Manhattan on Sept. 15 and returned to Alfred in the early-morning hours of Sept. 16.
Simpson organized the trip because his students are participating in the Vision 42 Design Competition, which encourages architects, planners, and urban designers from around the world to develop creative proposals for remaking New York City’s traffic-clogged 42nd Street into a world-class pedestrian environment and public space.
“My students spent four hours photographing, measuring, and studying 42nd Street,” Simpson said. “They took 1,000 photos and then we went down to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, had dinner downtown, and then worked our way back up to 42nd Street.”
According to Simpson, his students have been working on their project for the last four weeks and a group submission is due Oct. 1. Simpson said the majority of his students are from small towns in western New York and do not have a perspective on true urban life and the issues associated with it.
“The trip exposed the students to one of the most densely populated cities in the world and engaged the students in the competition,” Simpson said.
Simpson had sought others to accompany him and his students on the trip, so Carlo and Bitterman elected to go along with their pupils. Carlo said he and his students visited the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Times Square, and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, which included Memorial Park, the Freedom Tower, and the World Trade Center transportation hub.
One of Carlo’s students, Shirleejae Illsley, a BArch major, from Whitney Point, NY, said prior to going to New York City, she had done a research project on Daniel Libeskind, who won the competition to be the master architect of the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site.
“I thought I got the maximum education through researching all of his work, knowing his style and his career and the purpose of his master plan to redevelop the World Trade Center Memorial and then being able to visit the site and see the work first-hand,” she said.
Bitterman said he and his students also visited the MoMA, the High Line, Grand Central Terminal, the New York Public Library, and Times Square, covering six miles in 12 hours.
Carlo said the trip to New York City is part of a department initiative to “get the students out” of Alfred to places such as Philadelphia, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Rochester, where they can view impressive and noteworthy work by masterful designers and architects. The trips, Bitterman summarized, promote active and engaged learning.
“Our students, from ocean to lake in New York State, are out exploring the work of the masters that is in our backyard and at our back door,” Bitterman said. “Rather than just sitting in a classroom and learning about something, they’re actually standing in it and experiencing it.”
Alfred State’s Bachelor of Architecture program has moved one step closer toward accreditation from the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) after the board formally granted the program initial candidacy status earlier this month.
Dr. John C. Williams, dean of the School of Architecture, Management and Engineering Technology, said NAAB granted the status after approving the Architecture and Design Department’s accreditation plan and conducting an initial candidacy visit.
“That is the hurdle we have cleared, so now we are an official, formal candidate for accreditation,” Williams said. “In 2016, there will be a continuation of candidacy visit. Two-year intervals are required to check your progress as you move forward.”
Alfred State President Dr. Skip Sullivan said, “The programs at Alfred State are ever working to improve. This milestone of initial candidacy reflects not only a lot of hard work by faculty and staff, but is also a testament to the quality of our programs.”
Alfred State’s Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) degree is the only BArch in the State University of New York (SUNY) system. It is also one of only seven BArch degrees offered in New York State.
Williams said the Architecture and Design Department hopes the BArch program will be accredited by 2018.
“That’s the goal. That’s our hope,” Williams said. “It’s most beneficial for our graduates. They would be part of our first graduating class to have completed the program in its entirety and then they would have the status of an accredited program. We’re really pushing for that.”
According to its website, www.naab.org, the NAAB is the sole agency authorized to accredit U.S. professional degree programs in architecture.
“Most of the state registration boards require a NAAB-accredited degree to license somebody to be a professional architect, so that’s the impetus of having an accredited degree,” Williams said.
The Architecture and Design Department, Williams said, is very excited about the BArch program receiving initial candidacy status.
“It just shows the hard work, the quality of the program and the quality of the faculty,” Williams said. “They’ve done the lion’s share of the work, put in a lot of effort and a lot of work and continue to do so. It’s been a dream of the department’s. This was the first step. We’re making our way to accreditation. It’s within our grasps.”
The ArtWalk Tile in Rochester, New York, a gallery style store with an inventory of luxury tile and hardwood displayed as fine works of art.
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On May 9, Professor William Dean, Architecture and Design, accompanied two second-year architectural technology students to the First Presbyterian Church of Bath, NY for a public presentation of conceptual designs that included new signage and a veterans’ memorial that will welcome visitors to the village’s historic downtown. Katherine Dussing, Syracuse, and Taylor Woolf, Watertown, explained their proposals to the group of 25 residents representing different community groups around the village. The event, sponsored by CIVIC (Community Involvement and Volunteering Initiative Committee), provided the opportunity for residents to identify existing assets in the community and share ideas for future development. Alfred State’s participation is an extension of ongoing civic engagement efforts in the Department of Architecture and Design.
Six architectural technology students from Alfred State presented at the annual Appalachian Teaching Project (ATP) conference last month in Washington, DC.
The six seniors presented on the work they did last semester as part of a course called Design Studio 5: Urban Design in which they worked closely with residents and community leaders in the nearby community of Bath. The students created architectural plans for the community which were well received and may be considered for future implementation.
Led by the Consortium of Appalachian Centers and Institutes, the ATP offers students a unique opportunity to conduct active community-based research on their campuses.
Caption – From left, ARC Federal Co-chair Earl F. Gohl; Alfred State architectural engineering professors William Dean (ATP Teaching Fellow) and Rex Simpson; students Matthew Sickles of Albany; Travis Monroe of Cattaraugus; Emily Connors of Spencerport; Thomas Button of Rushville; Anthony Vischansky of Elmira; Alfred State’s Craig Clark, executive director of the Wellsville campus and dean of the School of Applied Technology (ATP Teaching Fellow); James Marsh of Belmont; and architectural engineering assistant professor Jeffrey Johnston.