Tag Archives: Architecture

Mia debuts divining rod for art discovery designed by Architecture’s Molly Reichert

Photo of a person holding the divining rod, a plastic u-shaped device with a circle of led lights in the center, near a landscape painting

The Divining Rod in action in one of Mia’s galleries (photo courtesy of Mia)

When Architecture faculty member Molly Reichert teamed up with engineer Ben Arcand to enter Minneapolis Institute of Art’s 3M Arts and Technology Award last year, they came up with a concept that was simple and elegant: a divining rod to guide visitors through the museum galleries in a unique, interesting way.

But once they won the award, they realized that now they had to actually build it. That took many prototypes (with some of the concepts 3D-printed in Dunwoody’s Materials, Mechanics,& Metrology Lab); recruiting additional team members to help with the software and fabrication; and lots of testing and debugging.

The Divining Rod team (left to right): Max Hoagland, hardware/software designer and programmer; co-creators Ben Arcand and Molly Reichert; and Blaine Garrett, algorithm programmer and designer. (photo courtesy of Mia)

The divining rod project came together in the end and debuted late last month. It features a u-shaped plastic casing that senses your location and displays lights that show you which direction to go in order to find an initial work of art. Once you’ve arrived at the artwork, you scan the label next to it and press a plus or minus button on the rod. Your reaction then interacts with a recommendation algorithm and guides you to a different piece of art it thinks you will like. Every interaction with the divining rod helps the recommendation algorithm it uses personalizes your museum experience further. It also helps the algorithm continue to learn and get better as a recommendation engine.

“The Divining Rods Project has a lot of potential for further development and could be used in a variety of contexts,” Reichert said. “We’re hoping that the collected data can be used to create new projects that augment the museum visitor experience.”

The divining rod project can be experienced at the museum on weekends and most Thursday and Friday evening (click here for a full schedule).

Read more about the product development process on the Mia Divining Rods project blog.

2017 3M Art and Technology Competition

There’s still time to submit your ideas for the 2017 version of the awards. Ideas are due by December 1, 2017. Find out more at the competition website and submit your ideas here.

Dunwoody makes debut in BWBR Prize competition, student Celina Nelson wins prize

Dunwoody Architecture students enter their semester final projects at 2017 BWBR competition.

Six Dunwoody Architecture students participated in the 2017 BWBR Prize for the first time last month, each leaving the competition with real-world experience, improved final projects, and some extra cash.

Celina Nelson took home one of the competition’s first-place prizes and a $1,500 check, while the remaining Dunwoody contestants received $250 for participating.

Dunwoody Architecture Student Celina Nelson

Dunwoody Architecture Student Celina Nelson

“I feel a new sense of confidence that I haven’t had before,” said Nelson.

Dunwoody eligible to compete in BWBR Prize for the first time

St. Paul architecture firm BWBR hosts the competition each year as a way for architecture and interior design students entering their final year of schooling to meet, network, and prepare for their careers.

Nelson's final, sketched site plan

Nelson’s final sketched site plan

With Dunwoody Architecture’s first cohort set to graduate next year, this was the very first year Dunwoody has been eligible to compete in the annual event.

“I was nervous [to compete], because this would be the first time that our final presentation would be for a prize, and not a grade,” Nelson said. “The stakes were definitely high.”

Each participating college was judged separately at the event, with students typically competing with projects or finals they had already created for school. Students presented their projects to a panel of BWBR employees who then critiqued them on their designs, presentation, and public speaking skills.

Students present to BWBR employees
Exterior rendering of the front side of the house

Exterior rendering of the front side of the house

Dunwoody student submissions consisted of their final projects for an Architecture Studio class. This was one of the first classes where students had the freedom to create their own client as well as independently design a building from start to finish.

Nelson—whose project was a single-family residential home—said the entire process provided her with a new way of thinking and working.

“It was nice to create the parameters of the client first and then design for the client,” Nelson said. “Instead of just being willy nilly like, ‘I want a fireplace here’, ‘I want a door here.’

Interior rendering of the kitchen/dining area

Interior rendering of the kitchen/dining area

“Because when you have a real client, you have to have empathy and have to understand where they’re coming from and design for them, not for yourself. That was a really important lesson that I took away from this: learning how to say ‘their house’, ‘they wanted this’, instead of ‘I wanted this.’”

The first round of Architecture graduates are set to graduate in May of 2018.

Learn more about Dunwoody Architecture.

Architecture students install functional ceramic art in Loring Corners

Students merge the art of digital fabrication and ceramics in semester studio.

Architecture Students spent their spring semester merging the modern art of digital fabrication with the age-old art of ceramics. The result was the installation of two beautiful ceramic displays in Loring Corners near Loring Park.

The first installation, titled “Bird-Planters”, includes a wall of small ceramic planters and birdhouses. Planted foliage includes Japanese spurge and ferns, Sweet Woodruff, Blue Moon Woodland Phlox, Tiarella, and other plants that thrive in full shade, while the birdhouses were specifically designed for house sparrows—the most common bird found near the installation site.

IMG_2779

“Bird-Planters” by Hannah Biros, Josiah Hanka, James Matthes, Aaron McCauley, Ben Sherman, Kevin Xiong

The second installation, titled “Lumivine”, is a tessellating light fixture that will serve as both art and a source of light. The design, which resembles a long vine, was inspired by both natural patterns and the traditional architecture of Loring Corners. The purchased light string should last around 12 years.

“Lumivine” by Guyon Brenna, Kyle Huberty, Ryan Kelly, and Marcos Villalobos

“Lumivine” by Guyon Brenna, Kyle Huberty, Ryan Kelly, and Marcos Villalobos

Both pieces were part of a final project for a semester-long studio. The course, titled Digital Ceramics, addressed the issues architects face when introducing variation of building systems and materials. Students learned new ways of making, including 3d modeling and parametric design as well as digital fabrication with the use of a laser cutter and CNC router. The learned techniques were then applied to the ceramic reproductive process of slip casting.

Stroll down the alleyway in Loring Corners near Maple St. in downtown Minneapolis to see the projects for yourself. Be sure to tag Dunwoody in any photos you take on Instagram or Facebook!

Student Spotlight: Aaron McCauley-Aburto

Student Spotlight
Aaron McCauley-Aburto, Bachelor of Architecture
Expected Graduation: May 2019

Aaron McCauley-Aburto is a military veteran and part of the first group of students who are enrolled in the Bachelor of Architecture program here at Dunwoody.

“There is a huge sense of ownership in the program,” McCauley-Aburto said. “Not only do we get to be founders in a new architecture program, but we get to have ownership in a new architectural style of learning, where we place emphasis on technical abilities and learning our tools first and then we transition into theory. I respond really well to that.”

Architecture Students Present Design Proposals for Steger Wilderness Center Dining Hall

In August 2016, third-year Architecture students were asked to help design a brand new dining hall for the Steger Wilderness Center, an ecologically-focused building devoted to sustainability education and climate change solution.

Splitting into three groups, the students spent their fall semester studying the land, documenting their experience, creating schematic designs of the hall, designing 3D digital models and building full-scale detail models of the building. Birchwood Café’s Chef Marshall Paulson even critiqued the students designs.

In December 2016, students presented their design proposals to students, faculty, Will Steger, and members of the design faculty.

These are their final designs.

 

 

Architecture students to design dining hall for Steger Wilderness Center

Renowned adventurer Will Steger to play key role in the design process.
Photo of Steger Wilderness Center

The Steger Wilderness Center, located in Ely, MN.

Architecture Instructor Molly Reichert had quite a surprise for third year Architecture students this fall semester: a chance to work with prominent wilderness adventurer and conservationist Will Steger.

Students were asked to help design and build a brand new dining hall for the Steger Wilderness Center, an earth-friendly building devoted to sustainability education and climate change solution. The dining hall, the latest step in the completion of the Center, will serve as a gathering place where center guests can eat, read, study, socialize, and meet. The dining space will be solar-powered and feature a full kitchen and rotating chefs.

Week-long studio prepares students for project

Students began the semester-long project earlier this year by spending a week up in Ely, MN, home of the Center. Completely “off the grid”, students spent their time touring the space, meeting with Will and Center staff, and fleshing out design ideas for the project.

Photo of Dunwoody students camping at the Steger Wilderness Center

Dunwoody students camping on the site of the proposed dining hall

The Dunwoody group even camped out on the site where the dining hall will be built to gain a better understanding of how the land worked in relation to the rest of the Center.

At the end of the studio, Reichert said it became very clear to her that the students were not only impressed with the space, but also with their client.

“It was very interesting and eye-opening for students to see the capacity that Will—just one person—has,” Reichert said. “From going on arctic expeditions, to designing buildings, building buildings, working on policy work and educating—I think they were all very inspired by him.”

“Many of the students described the experience as broadening, which I think is such a beautiful way to think about something.”

Final building designs to be presented in December
Photo of where the dining hall will be built in relation to the rest of the Center

Proposed dining hall program diagram

Since the studio, students have primarily been working on documentation, including gathering information on Will’s vision, zoning constraints, building codes for the area, kitchen requirements, etc. But now, Reichert said, they are ready enter the schematic design portion of the project.

“It was quite funny because everyone was so inspired and interested in Will and this project that it was hard keeping everyone at bay and to not get into design and to just focus on research and documentation. So, I think everyone is really chomping at the bit to just dig in. They can’t wait to get started.”

Will Steger at Dunwoody College working with students on design possibilities for the dining hall

Will Steger at Dunwoody College working with students on design possibilities for the dining hall

Reichert explained that students will have to learn how to design to the constraints and mission of the Center. This means taking into account the harsh winters and freezing temperatures of northern MN. The design of the building must also reflect the local ecosystem and speak to the other structures that are part of the Steger Wilderness Center. The entire design process is expected to take several weeks.

At the end of the semester, students will present their final designs to Will, who will then choose several designs, or portions of those designs, to move forward with. The final building design will be dependent on funding and community support.

The hope is to break ground as early as 2018.

Learn more  

This is the first design studio in the 5-year Bachelor of Architecture degree at Dunwoody. The course aims to introduce students to the importance of site and precedent in relationship to architecture.

Learn more about Dunwoody Architecture.

Monitor the project’s progress.

 

International, local Architects donate napkin sketches to scholarship auction

Dunwoody Architecture students and American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) chapter members have spent the last few months asking established architects for sketches of buildings—on paper napkins.

Kyle Huberty, James Matthes, Taylor Parker-Greene, Nick Schurhammer, Brenda Pliego-Geniz, Ryan Kelly, Devyn Smoter, Chris Eklund, Charles Evans  Bille (L to R) and Aaron McCauly-Aburto (not pictured)

Kyle Huberty, James Matthes, Taylor Parker-Greene, Nick Schurhammer, Brenda Pliego-Geniz, Ryan Kelly, Devyn Smoter, Chris Eklund, Charles Evans Bille (L to R) and Aaron McCauly-Aburto (not pictured)

The group of students voluntarily sent out more than 170 letters—reaching 25 different countries and 6 continents—to well-known architectural firms asking for architects to participate in their June 9 fundraiser: a silent auction event where attendees can bid on the one-of-a-kind sketches.

Proceeds from the event, which is titled “Process: Sketches from Masters to Students”, will fund study abroad scholarships for the Architecture students.

Why napkin art?

But, why sketches on napkins?

Well, according to AIAS Treasurer Taylor Parker-Greene and AIAS Chapter President Kyle Huberty, napkin art actually dates back many years, evolving from the notion that writers, artists and architects can’t help but sketch ideas on any form of medium within reach—many times napkins.

“There’s an age-long history to the concept,” Huberty said. “It’s the excessively creative person that just can’t stop. They’re in a restaurant talking–but still drawing something.”

The students explained they were further inspired by the idea of a napkin sketch auction after learning that a few other colleges have held similar, successful fundraisers.

The process

The group began their request earlier last year by first compiling a list of architects to approach for the project—many of whom included students’ inspirations and personal favorites. The students then worked to draft their initial “ask” letter.

However, Huberty and Parker-Greene said their main concern was having the bustling architects even notice—let alone open—the letter.

“We didn’t want it to be just another plain envelope asking for something,” Huberty said.

“We wanted to catch their eye,” Parker-Greene agreed.

So, on each envelope the students sketched a famous building designed by the architect, hoping the personal touch would pique their interest.

Examples of the student-drawn envelopes can be found below.

The student’s approach appears to have worked, as the group has since received 25 sketches back—including art from big names like Renzo Piano (Italy), Tom Wright (United Kingdom), Christopher Charles Benninger (India), and Cesar Pelli (United States). The students are also in the process of contacting local architects in the Twin Cities area.

Parker-Greene and Huberty say they are very excited for the event and the funds it could bring to their program.

To be able to “go to a new place, take tours, meet other architects—it really enriches the student experience,” Huberty said.

About the auction

The auction is scheduled for Thursday, June 9, from 7 – 9 p.m. at the Independent Filmmaker Project: 550 Vandalia St #120, St. Paul. Tickets are $40.

For questions on the event, or to RSVP, please contact arch@dunwoody.edu.

Dunwoody Architecture students help create 8 affordable housing projects at Search for Shelter Design Charrette

Photo of Aaron McCauley-Aburto, Kyle Huberty, and Gianna Madison

From L to R: Aaron McCauley-Aburto, Kyle Huberty and Gianna Madison.

Dunwoody Architecture students Aaron McCauley-Aburto, Kyle Huberty, and Gianna Madison,  joined nearly 60 other students and professionals for a rigorous three-day, pro bono brainstorm at the annual Search for Shelter Design Charrette Feb 19-21.

The goal of the Charrette—organized by industry partner American Institute of Architects (AIA)—is to bring together architects, interior designers, landscapers, students, and affordable housing representatives to help generate housing solutions for the homeless.

Despite Search for Shelter beginning over 3 decades ago, AIA representatives say homelessness continues to be a problem throughout the nation—and right here in Minnesota.

The Dunwoody students volunteered their time and expertise to assist in the project, which could help participating affordable housing organizations to move forward with eight different developments.

The entire Search for Shelter event lasted around 42 hours.

For both the students and the future residents, however, the impact will last much longer.

Dunwoody students humbled by event

“Everyone participating at the event really came together to work for a common goal—one that didn’t have a paycheck attached to it,” Madison said. “It made it a very sincere, untainted and humbling experience.”

Huberty agreed: “I think the appearance of architecture is that sometimes it’s for only the 1% who can afford an architect to design a home–and that is somewhat a reality of the industry. And so, I enjoy when opportunities like this come along where we can serve people who couldn’t normally afford it,” he said.

Hands-on, technical education proved invaluable at event

When asked if a Dunwoody education helped prepare the students for the project, the answer “yes” was unanimous. The group agreed that had they not been receiving a technical education, actively participating in an event of this magnitude would have been nearly impossible.

“Our technical education allowed us to become valuable assets within the group, and to make meaningful contributions to the group—especially as relatively inexperienced students,” McCauley-Aburto said.

Huberty agreed explaining that because of his Dunwoody education, he felt confident in working and designing with the other practicing architects in the room—and in some instances, even felt on the same level of expertise as them.

“I think the impression with a technical school is that it limits your creativity,” Huberty said. “People think since you are focusing on the software, that that gets in the way of the actual artistic expression.”

“But I think it is the opposite,” he continued. “We have been able to get our technical foundation first so that we can jump right into the artistic expression–because we know our tools are sufficient to get us there.”

Students hope to continue with Search for Shelter, affordable housing

The Dunwoody students hope to stay involved with the organization, their projects, and the affordable housing movement. In fact, some of the students are even considering specializing in affordable housing work upon graduation.

And while the students don’t know their exact career plans just yet, the group agreed that no matter where life takes them, they are just looking to “do something meaningful.”

Madison is set to graduate in May 2018. Huberty and McCauley-Aburto follow in May 2019.

Learn more about Dunwoody Architecture.