[singlepic id=498 w=320 h=240 float=right]Stefan Cavezzali
The weekend of Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 was an exciting one in the lives of 19 Keene State Architecture students. For once they put down their drafting tools and escaped the studio and experienced the outside world at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. However, they did so to enjoy the company of, collaborate with, and bask in the contemplations of other college architecture students from the northeast at the AIAS Northeast Quad Conference.
These conferences occur every semester and give students the chance to network with peers from other universities and even practicing architects. Through team-building activities, keynote speakers, and general discussions students of architecture are introduced to many new ideas that impact and alter their views on design. Since the Quad Conferences are held in different locations every semester there is always a portion of the weekend put aside to visit the host city, adding to the richness and understanding of the area being visited.
The Keene State AIAS (American Institute of Architecture Students) Chapter is very involved in on-campus activities such as CANstruction as well as outside activities such as the BuildBoston conference. Over the past year the club has experienced a dramatic increase in participation as the students in the program have become more driven and have pushed the limits further.
Due to previous AIAS Quad Conferences the KSC Architecture Club had high expectations for this Quad. Although architecture students are well acquainted with staying up all hours of the night, the members of the club needed to wake up early in order to make it to Roger Williams by 7:30 a.m. on Friday.
Upon arrival the club was split up into predetermined teams comprised of members from different schools across the northeast for a team activity. Each of the 15 groups was charged with a quickfire design assignment to redevelop an existing city block to better serve its town while preserving its history and functions. After visiting a nearby town, making observations of it, and experiencing the space students returned to the university in order to complete an urban planning project. All of this, often a process that takes several months, was to be completed in an eight-hour time frame.
The time crunch forced the members of groups to throw all caution to the wind and put all ideas on the table. Each group needed to have drawings that explained their “big idea” for a judged five minute presentation at the end of the allotted time. Even in such a limited time there was a definite variety between each group’s design proposals for the space.
After the presentations the top three teams were announced by the judging panel of professionals. The up-and-coming Keene State Architecture program had representatives on the first (Stefan Cavezzali and Natalie Savas), second (Michael Helmer and Kate D’Albis) and third place teams (Jenna Gibbons). With the unique collaborative opportunities offered in the KSC program, our students were well prepared for the challenge and in most cases, became a team leader.
KSC has made a mark at the past three Northeast Quad Conferences with its outstanding involvement and idea generating during all of the events of the weekend long symposiums. KSC has also been among the top three schools in number of participants at the past three conferences and intends to maintain that status.
Next on the agenda was a keynote speech by a practicing architect and former Dean of the School of Architecture at University of Texas. He spoke about the influence of buildings on peoples’ everyday experiences. He emphasized the idea that the environment that we as architects and designers create, influence peoples’ feelings and overall life.
For the students the next part of the conference presented many opportunities for networking, discussion, and exploration with an organized social at Roger Williams’ architecture studio. While at the studio the students viewed and discussed current and future projects with students of all ages and educational training.
The following morning offered informational lectures on accreditation and online collaboration opportunities along with organized discussions. These discussions offered a chance for students to talk about what their chapters do, how to improve individual chapter activities and ways that chapters separated by hundreds of miles could collaborate.
Later in the day, students were brought to the nearby Newport Mansions. Each of these was accompanied by a tour of the estates and homes. As is often the case, viewing previous styles of design allows students to discover the derivations of many modern aspects of architecture and design.
The last night of every Quad Conference peaks with an event called the Beaux Arts Ball. This event, originating in Paris, is a traditional social event that is now represented as a dance party with a DJ, food, and architecture students with pent-up energy. This Quad’s Ball was a perfect culmination to a great weekend for everyone involved.
In the spring the Northeast Quad Conference will be hosted by UMass Amherst’s chapter and the KSC club expects to show up full force yet again.
Stefan Cavezzalli can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org