Phila U students win ACSA award
Three students at Philadelphia University just won themselves a lifetime supply of bragging rights. Heather Martin, Chris Garrow, Kaitlin Shenk took first place in the American Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s Student Competition. The students collaborated to design a pedestrian bridge that would cross over route 676 and connect Center City to neighborhoods north of the Vine Street Expressway. Their design thoughtfully encompasses both indoor and outdoor tracks, a café, and a gift shop. And it works with part of the already established Reading Viaduct.
The American Institute of Steel Construction sponsored the competition, so naturally steel was a main focal point for the students. Aside from the actual materials used, though, the submission leaned heavily on interdisciplinary collaboration at the university.
As a response to the competition, Philadelphia University offered a course last spring that brought together architecture and interior design students. The class was led by Donald Dunham and Lisa Phillips, assistant professors of architecture and interior design, respectively. “At Philadelphia University, we stress the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to education and problem solving,” says Dunham. “This formal collaboration at the intersection of multiple fields of study is fundamental to innovation, not only in a university setting, but in the real-world,” he adds.
Clearly, Dunham has some support in this theory. Heather Martin, one of the students on the winning team, agrees. “The extra element of collaborating between two majors, which Philadelphia University is largely focused on, heightened our design ideas,” she says. “It not only gave us a glimpse into the real work world, when we will be collaborating with all different fields of design, but also provided us the chance to learn to work as a team and allow everyone to have a say in the end design,” explains Martin. She and Garrow are architecture students, while Shenk majors in interior design, proving that cross-course collaboration has its advantages.
“This experience will have a huge impact in my future career. It has enhanced my understanding of evolving a design from the conceptual stage all the way to completion of structural details. This competition allowed my name to surface in the architectural world and will hopefully provide me with opportunities for both internships and future career options,” says Martin. “This opportunity will change my future for the better.”