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Student design competition provides architectural concepts for future donor recognition wall

March 22, 2019

Contact: Michael Tullier, Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing

Stephen Colar and his winning design
Third-year student Stephen Colar and his winning design concept
that incorporated Tuskegee's brick-making traditions.

Students in Tuskegee University’s Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science are partnering with the university’s Office of Development to help better recognize those who philanthropy support the university.

As part of the school’s Digital Manufacturing Process class taught by visiting professor Dr. Mostafa Alani in the fall, third-, fourth- and fifth year architecture students received criteria for a proposed donor recognition wall that will be located on the university’s campus and that will include the names of its top donors and giving society members. Chief among that criteria was devising a way to creatively display donors’ names while focusing on technology integration.

As of September 2018, the proposed recognition wall would contain the names of more than 1,400 individual, corporate and foundation donors whose level of charitable giving would qualify them to be included in the project. Students had the option to suggest an indoor or outdoor location as part of their design concepts.

As part of their coursework and classroom discussions, students researched and examined a variety of forms, materials, structures and technologies used in similar projects in a variety of settings. They then developed design proposals, created digital models, built architectural maquettes, and outlined step-by-step procedures on how to manufacture and assemble the elements comprising their concepts.

“It’s exciting anytime our students can apply classroom concepts to very tangible, real-world opportunities that also allow them to stretch their creativity,” said Dr. Carla Jackson Bell, dean of the Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science. “The fact that this project will benefit their alma mater directly had many of our students eager to take on the assignment.”

The course provides students with an overview of contemporary digital manufacturing processes, while at the same time being a “hands-on” lab. As part of their preparation, students developed skills in digital design and the manufacturing process, which included laser cutting and 3D-printing technologies. The project, and these opportunities, Alani noted, help students better understand how digital means are transforming traditional building methods.

In December, in a charette-style presentation, the field of 14 student projects were narrowed down to five by a team of judges that included Alani; Bell; Kwesi Daniels, head of the school’s Department of Architecture; Krystal Floyd, Tuskegee’s director of development; Michael Tullier, APR, senior director of the Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing; and Keith Burrell, special assistant to the Board of Trustees. Awards by the panel included:

  • First place to third-year student Stephen Colar, whose concept included incorporating Tuskegee’s brick-making traditions and the use of fingerprints in those bricks to represent donors “leaving their mark” on the university. Central to Colar’s concept was the need to develop an algorithm that related to the images used in the bricks, as well as the bricks’ rotation in the wall.
  • Second place to third-year student Asia Johnson, whose mascot-themed concept incorporated full-length, three-dimensional tigers located throughout campus and contoured in ways that allow donors’ names to be displayed creatively.
  • Third place to fifth-year student Elijah Jefferson, whose concept involved an innovative pentagonal-stacking system to display donors’ names.
  • Fourth place to third-year student Fernandez Hunter, who concept introduced a colorful hexagonal geometric system to display donors’ names.
  • Fifth place to third-year student Jonathan Phillips, who proposed a tree-like, Voronoi tessellation system to display donors’ names.

Next steps for this donor recognition project will be to evaluate elements of the winning concepts as the students’ ideas move from the drawing board to real-life execution.

“Each student involved in this project presented some outstanding ideas that we look forward to incorporating in this project, and other design-build projects on campus,” Floyd said. “We look forward to these students coming back to campus as the next generation of donors and recognizing their ideas in the way we express our sincerest appreciation to our generous donors — now and into the future.”

© 2019, Tuskegee University