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Research! Bikes! Design!

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Hello!

In my architecture studio, we have been given our third project for the semester. This one will carry us through to the end of the semester, so it will be a big project with a lot of work. For this project, we are designing a small-scale museum space that will be located on the U of M campus. The museum space that I will be designing is to house bike collections. Not everyone has the same museum space topic, which makes it fun and interesting to hear about other research and design ideas. Some of the other collections include bees, bats, textiles, and wolves.

Last week during studio, my professor and I, along with two students who are also designing a space for bike collections, visited the Cycling Museum of Minnesota in Northeast Minneapolis. We learned about bicycles and their history in Minnesota. Most importantly, we received a lot of knowledge on museum design. A few of the people we met with have their education and background in museums. Talking with them about how to arrange collections and how to design a space to hold multiple exhibits was incredibly helpful.

When given a new project, it is essential to do as much research as possible. Being new to designing spaces, it is important for me to do research for this project not only on bikes, but also on museum design. What are the ways in which a bike can be displayed? What lighting is best in a museum setting? My research on both topics has been exciting and it sparks a number of ideas in my head.

Here are a couple of inspiration photos I've found from Method Bicycle.

--Margo
Architecture

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Connect.

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Hello and happy October! I am headed into week six of the school year and it is going by incredibly fast.

While I was still in high school, I remember hearing about my sister's Welcome Week experience during her first week of college at the U of M. Welcome Week is this incredible weeklong event held for first-year students. I'm a transfer student and my previous college didn't have a similar program. When I transferred to the U of M, I made the great decision to become a Welcome Week Leader for a few reasons.

First, since I transferred, I never got to experience Welcome Week as a freshman and it sounded really cool from my sister's experience. Second, I wanted to make sure the new students at the U of M felt welcomed and like they belonged. Lastly, I love meeting new people and being a leader, so it sounded like a perfect fit. Being a Welcome Week Leader was more than what I was expecting. Although it takes quite a bit of time dedication at the end of the summer, it was a blast and I made so many friends. It was such a blast, in fact, that I decided to do it two years in a row!

This past year during Welcome Week's College Day, I was able to connect with more than just first-year students. I had lunch with two architects -- one a current U of M professor, the other a former U of M professor. Meeting and chatting with them was spectacular. It was interesting to talk to professors on a more personal level about topics we all shared and felt passionate about: architecture and education. It was fun to hear their stories, and it was so cool that they wanted to hear mine as well. I got both of their business cards and I plan on taking the current professor's course next fall.
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The U of M has so many wonderful opportunities out there. Being at such a large university, you never know when you might make a meaningful connection. I went into being a Welcome Week Leader to help first-year students make strong connections with their peers, and surprisingly, I was able to make two very beneficial connections of my own!

Thank you Professor Donofrio!!

-Margo
Architecture

Bienvenue!

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Hello everyone!

My name is Margo and I am a third year student in the Architecture program here in the College of Design at the wonderful University of Minnesota Twin Cities! I am beyond excited to share my experiences with you this year. This is my first year in the Bachelor of Science program, so everything is just as new to me as it will be to you. Before we dive into everything that this University has to offer, let me tell you a bit about my background:

-- I have wanted to be an architect since I was nine years old. I love being immersed in the design culture that the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis have.

-- I LOVE to travel! So much so that I decided to have the world on my arm permanently :) I will also be studying abroad in Copenhagen in the spring!

-- I am a mother of a 2.5 year old cat named Nathaniel P. Archibald.

-- I have a lot of interest in Sustainability, so I'm a bit of a green freak.

-- I enjoy going to concerts, and Minneapolis is great for doing just that!

I love living, working, and being educated in a city as phenomenal as the Twin Cities. The possibilities are endless. Keep on board with my blogs through this year!

Margo
Architecture

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If I May Call Myself an Intern

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Hello everyone!

I am back for one more post before the new blogging crew arrives. To catch you up on these last couple weeks, I have been working at BWBR Architects in St. Paul. Their main location is here in St. Paul (and has been for over 100 years!) and they have recently opened a smaller location in Madison, WI. I found out today that BWBR first started in the Endicott building two blocks away from their current location. The building they were in was designed by Cass Gilbert and at the time there were 24 architecture firms sharing space in that building!

The internship has been so much fun! I have been working on a team (we have a project manager who oversees the stages of the design, interior designers who work with the interior architects on the inside of the building, and architects who work solely on the exterior of the building). The team works closely with our quality assurance department, the clients, and other companies like mechanical teams, electrical teams, plumbing, structural and more. I have been helping create callouts of building details, annotating documents, placing symbols and keynotes, working on redlines and more.

Next week I will temporarily help another project by going to the site and measuring rooms and double checking that dimensions and objects in the existing building are correct in the Revit model BWBR has created.

On Tuesday some of the interns went on a site visit to see the ending stages of the Eagle Bluff Church in Woodbury. The church is scheduled to open in September, so at this point all of the foundations have been poured, windows and walls placed, carpeting is being laid, paint applied, ceilings being assembled, etc. Construction site tours are some of my favorite events to go to. It is a lot of fun to see how a building comes together during different phases of the construction process. Below is a photo of one of BWBR's construction architects who led the tour. One photo is at the main entrance to the church and the other photo is above the worship space in the catwalk.

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I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their summer!

All the best,
Jen
B.S. in Architecture

What an Amazing Time it has Been!

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Well, I cannot believe it but I am finally able to say I have graduated with my undergraduate architecture bachelor of science degree! I still don't really feel as if I have graduated. It seems very surreal - like I am just on another summer break and will be starting school again in the fall (some day I will be back to begin my M'Arch degree!). The graduation ceremony was wonderful. It felt bittersweet lined up in Northrop with all of my classmates (and the entire graduating class from the College of Design). The ceremony was filled with wonderful speeches as well as a lot of excitement as we watched our friends walk across the stage. Afterward, I posed for a photo with my closest friends from the program. I will ALWAYS stay in touch with them - I feel like I've grown up with them in a sense.

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What do I do with all of my free time now? Well, I still don't even know! I am focusing on work and truly enjoying being able to get out and enjoy the beginnings of summer. I plan to stay involved in the architecture community as much as possible and I hope to return to Rapson again. I truly will miss my second home, but I wish the best for all of the students who still reside there. It has been an amazing time and a great four years filled with passion, tears, excitement, wonderful friendships and unforgettable opportunities.

I hope you have enjoyed keeping up with my blogs and I encourage you to continue following the architectural blogger for next year - they will be great!

All the best,
Jennifer
B.S. in Architecture

Bittersweet Review

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Today was my very last studio review for my undergraduate career. Normally, review is something students prepare for weeks and months in advance. We carefully craft our designs, focusing on the whole and then the details. Students spend hours diligently perfecting their models, rendering images and practicing their thesis to showcase their work. There is always a sense of relief after a review (and a hope for a night's break from homework), especially if it went well. I did have a sense of relief, but there was also a bittersweet moment as the realization set in. Until graduate school, I will not have another studio review. I will miss seeing my studio friends often and I will certainly miss the studio culture at Rapson. I hope to keep in touch with friends as we each begin our journeys after graduation (which is only one week away!).

Here is a section cut of my building (an organization that pays tribute to the column/grid structure of the Lowertown warehouses).

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Yesterday was the first day of my internship at BWBR. Everyone there is so welcoming and friendly! I have a mentor there who helps me get settled in for the first couple of weeks. We went out to lunch yesterday and she is planning on showing me the St. Paul skyway system tomorrow. I am already assigned to a project helping organize architectural drawings for a client. My desk is empty as of now - I have to think of some great things to fill it in over the next few months.

I look forward to telling more great stories about my internship during the next few weeks.

Until next time,
Jen
B.S. in Architecture

Three More Weeks!!!

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I cannot believe I have only three weeks until graduation! I am excited to be the first class to walk across the newly renovated Northrop auditorium. I have been trying to prepare to the best of my ability. I have my gown, cap and tassel and have been thinking about ordering a diploma frame. I am also excited to announce that I have accepted an intern position at BWBR! I cannot wait to start!

Until then, I have been developing my studio project pretty well. I have only two weeks until our final review for studio. Floor plans, elevations, section cuts, models and renderings are all underway! We have been having mock-up reviews every Friday for the past few weeks. These reviews have included musicians (since this is sound studio), acoustical designers, detail architects and more. Each one of them has helped us refine our building designs in a unique way.

Amanda and I took photos the other day for our AIAS National Chapter Leader of the Month award for being the Spring Quad Cochairs. We will be on National's website for May. Here is the photo we submitted:

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I hope everyone is getting excited for summer!

Until next time,
Jen
B.S. in Architecture

Quad Came, Quad Saw, Quad Conquered

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Hello again!

This past weekend the AIAS Midwest Quad event hosted by AIAS Minnesota took place in Minneapolis. Fourteen of the AIAS Midwest chapters were represented this past weekend at the conference. It was great to see old friends made at previous conferences and make new ones. There were many first time Quad attendees there and many veterans. Ryan Gann, our Midwest Quad Director from IIT, has been to seventeen AIAS conferences and his final one was ours. We received numerous compliments from our guests including that they liked the hands on approach to our track sessions. We mixed networking with professionals, guest presentations, construction tour, firm tours, technology workshops, etc. We also were complimented on our dance - many said this was one of their top, if not favorite, AIAS conferences they have attended. The Beaux Arts Ball, themed 'White Out Brite Out' was the event everyone was waiting for. Even Goldy made an appearance!

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We provided neon party favors, a photo booth with colorful and creative props, black lights and an amazing DJ. University of Minnesota alumn and now public interest design leader, John Cary, was our keynote speaker during the ball. He gave a thoughtful and inspiring presentation on designing with intention (designing for the user by the user). He ended his speech with a surprise costume for the ball - an Evel Knievel outfit. 4

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The photo below is from the Council of Presidents Meeting. The national AIAS president, chapter presidents, vice presidents and future members interested in a leadership position attended.

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The event was an amazing success and I am glad all had a wonderful time. Now, back to focusing on studio.

Until next time,
Jen
B.S. in Architecture

Spring Break!

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Hello everyone!

It is spring break week at the U and Rapson Hall is quiet, but not too quiet. Although many students are on vacation, Rapson Hall still has many working away on projects. I, myself, have been catching up on midterm review comments. My final project for sound studio will mimic historical warehouse characteristics, while introducing a few modern approaches to building structure like glass and steel. The goal is to follow the organized patterns and datum lines of the surrounding warehouse buildings, then, introduce program and create a new order of window openings that follow the program.

The photo below portrays the idea I am trying to recreate, but on a residential scale.
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I have been also using spring break as time to continue planning the details for Quad. There are only two weeks left until the event! My registration committee and I visited the Marriott hotel to finalize our plans and layout for Friday's registration. I also visited HGA's office to pick up some of the swag for our registration swag bags. Planning will continue right up until the day of the event. I am excited to see all of our guests arriving from the other AIAS Midwest chapters. Friends from IIT, Milwaukee, Chicago, North Dakota, Kentucky, Lawrence Tech and more will be coming in to experience the event.

I hope everyone is enjoying their break as well!

Until next time,
Jen Cunningham
B.S. in Architecture

The Fun with AIAS Never Ends!

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The American Institute of Architecture Students Minnesota Chapter has been having a lot of fun lately! We participated in the annual Skyway Open event where firms and student organizations design and build mini golf holes based on a certain theme. Then, the public is allowed to come and play the holes during the scheduled event weekend. This year, we designed a hole based on our Quad theme of 'Bridging.' Everyone involved had a great time building the hole and then playing it.

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AIAS Minnesota also participated in the annual AIA Bowling Night held at Bryant Lake Bowl. Each year we participate in this event with other architecture professionals and University staff. It is an absolute blast and wonderful networking opportunity! This year, we made Archihat's and wore our AIAS Minnesota t-shirts as part of the best dressed award. Below is a photo of our AIAS team and the UMN Faculty who participated in the event.

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Lastly, we have been incredibly busy but absolutely excited about hosting the Spring Quad Conference here in Minneapolis! The conference is one month away and we are finalizing details as we go. The conference weekend will include multiple opportunities to network with professionals and other students from the Midwest AIAS chapters. Thus far we are collaborating with HGA and MS&R for firm tours, site tours of Pillsbury A-Mill with BKV Group, tours of the Central Library and the Guthrie with Architectural Alliance, a construction site tour of the Interchange Station with 4RM+ULA, and a tour of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Building with BWBR.

The fun does not stop there! Once Saturday events are over, conference attendees will head to the McNamara Alumni Center for dinner, a keynote presentation with John Cary (a past AIAS Minnesota president who has grown to become one of the fore fronting leaders in Public Interest Design) and the anticipated Beau Arts Ball! Our theme this year for the dance is 'White Out, Brite Out' and will include white backdrops with splashes of color coming from lighting effects and party favors.

Check out the Quad Conference Facebook page and website to learn more.

AIAS is a wonderful organization and I hope in your educational journey that you will become a member!

Until next time,
Jen
B.S. in Architecture

I Am Loving Studio!!

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Sound Studio has been amazing thus far! We have studied musical instruments through architectural drawings (axonometric views, isometric views, plans, sections, details, elevations, etc.) and have regenerated particular interests of these instruments through models. Each student received a specific instrument; mine is the harmonica. Now, we are creating a mobile pavilion where this instrument can be played. Our site for our mobile pavilion is the St. Paul Union Depot (BEAUTIFUL if you have not been! It is free and I suggest you go!). My pavilion reflects the harmonica being cradled in the player's hands. A canopy is cantilevered over the interior play room by large finger like structures and the playroom resembles the intimacy of a small instrument. The playroom wall is built from varying lengths of projected wood pieces reflecting the in and out movement of the breath when playing the harmonica as well as the various lengths of the chambers within the harmonica that control the pitch of the note.

I am also excited for our multiple field trips including a visit to our site in Lowertown, St. Paul, the MPR broadcasting station, MacPhail Center for Music and possibly more! We recently went to First Avenue and got a tour behind the scenes! The venue was a completely different atmosphere seeing it empty! I have been there many times for concerts and was extremely pleased to see the main room, the green rooms, 7th Street Entry, the Depot and other rooms. Below is a photo of band's set lists taped to the wall behind the main stage.

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Until next time,
Jen
B.S. in Architecture

Sound Studio!

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And my final studio is... the Sound Studio!

The focus of the studio is to explore the interaction between music, architecture and the community and how these elements intertwine and shape one another. Throughout this studio we will be researching how sound is affected by a space, how oral perception affects one's concept of space, how architecture influences music, niche musical communities and more. The final project will be a design for a recording and performance of music in the Lowertown neighborhood of St. Paul. The building will contain rooms for musical recording and performance areas, practice areas and housing for artists, a concert venue for over 300 people and attendant support spaces.

Our first assignment for the class is to take a musical instrument, dissect it, and draw it in plan, elevation, exploded axon or another method that tells the story of how the instrument and its parts work to make sound. We must focus on how air moves through the space and the textural qualities that make these sounds.

Below is an example of a fire station that was turned into a music hall. One of the Sound Studio professors, Jody McGuire, worked on this project. You may find more photos of the project here.

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Until next time,
Jen
B.S. in Architecture

The First Day of My Final Undergrad Semester

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WOW. I cannot believe four years has flown by. i remember my first day of class like it was yesterday - the classes and all of the friends I met. I am happy to say I still have all of those friends and it has been fun to grow with them, watch those who graduated before me and look forward to graduating with those who haven't.

I am looking entirely forward to this semester. I have three classes - Studio IV, Revit, and a Directed Study underneath Jim Lutz. Studio will be interesting because it has three different options and I get to choose which option I would like to take. However, I have to wait until the first day of studio to find out what the options are. I am also looking forward to working with Jim on a Directed Study. The study will pertain to the planning process and weekend-of tips for the American Institute of Architecture Students Spring Quad Conference that AIAS Minnesota is hosting April 4-6th. I'll keep everyone updated with how the study is going throughout the semester. Here is the promotional video link AIAS Minnesota has developed so far for the conference. Check it out here! If you would like to participate in the conference, you can register to become an AIAS member by clicking here. Registration fees have dropped to $27 for the Spring semester!!! It is a great time to become a member and see what AIAS is all about!

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I hope everyone has a wonderful first day back and has rested up enough over winter break!

Until next time,
Jen
B.S. in Architecture

Get Involved Over Winter Break!

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Winter break is a wonderful time to look into organizations, clubs and other architectural activities in the Twin Cities that you just couldn't quite commit to during the semester.

One idea is to entertain your own firm crawl... visit AIA Minnesota's website here and locate their firm directory. Select a few firms within walking (or driving distance) from one another and visit them. Visiting them is a great way to familiarize yourself with their locations and put a visual with their name. Don't be afraid to stop in and introduce yourself, you may be able to find out more information about the firm, speak with a few staff members or possibly receive a tour.

Two more organizations that would be delighted to have younger members are the AIA's Emerging Professional Draughting Club and Architecture for Humanity's Minneapolis chapter. Both organizations provide a vast networking opportunity. Grab a friend or two and utilize these organizations! They may open doors to places you could only dream of.

Lastly, two historic homes featured in the Twin Cities are the James J. Hill House and Alexander Ramsey House. Students may tour these homes to learn more about the significance both homes have to Minnesota's history as well as admire the architectural details and design from their eras. These would be good opportunities to do with your family, special someone or a group of friends.

James J. Hill House
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Alexander Ramsey House
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Take advantage of the rich architectural community Minneapolis and St. Paul offer. The Twin Cities is proud to show off our architectural feats and gems and we have a plethora of them!

I wish everyone a very happy holidays and bright new year!

Best,
Jen
B.S. in Architecture

Getting the Best from Finals Week

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Finals week is packed with late nights, last minute cram sessions, and final presentations. Make sure to drink lots of water and take lots of walks - your body with thank you later!

I encourage everyone to walk around and take a look at student's work pinned up around Rapson. Don't feel silly either if you want to stop in a listen to any final presentation that interests you - lots of students sit in a listen to reviews. It is one of the best ways to learn and to see each others work. This is a fantastic way to also get a feel for the types of projects that a specific architecture course has to offer. If you are interested in a course, but are unsure what it entails go to the final review! I have done this before and have found it to be quite helpful in picking future courses. I have also found myself very intrigued by courses I thought I would not enjoy.

Some of my favorite final presentations to sit in on are the graduate students. Not only do I get to see highly developed and thoughtful work, but half of the fun is finding out who their guest reviewers are - usually very well known architects! It is great to hear the feedback given by the reviewers and I can usually use this information and put it towards my own work ethic and projects. Below is an image of one final review for a third year graduate studio. It was inspiring to see all of the students, professors and reviewers gathered around such a large project.

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I hope this information is helpful and encourages you to check out at least one final presentation you find interesting. Good luck on finals week and enjoy the holiday break!

- Jen
B.S. in Architecture

Almost Time to Wrap It Up!

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I cannot believe that the semester is almost over. It seems like just yesterday that I was prepping my notebooks, textbooks and myself for the semester to begin. With so many weeks behind us, studio life has become very focused as many of us fine tune our final projects and prepare for our final presentation in front of our classmates, professors and guest reviewers. To help us prepare for our final review, our studio has practice runs where we can pin up and present everything we hope to show off and review for the final. Before Thanksgiving break, our first dry run included feedback about our structural plans and sections, overall thesis statement about our project, and suggestions about improvements to make on our models. The next dry run will allow us to present the same work with the improvements we have made. We are also going to be practicing our verbal presentation and really enhancing how we introduce and explain the ideas invested into each of our designs. These dry runs are wonderful because they give us many chances for feedback both from our professors, classmates and reviewers, which in return allows us to fine tune our projects as best as we can and prepare ourselves as best as we can for the final review. Practicing our presentations does help take some of the nerves away from the final presentation and really makes us understand our project and our argument. The photo below is of one of my classmate's work. Our final project entails a park pavilion at one of these three lakes (Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles and Lake Nokomis) with the addition of a wild card program that is up to our choosing. The focus is to create a program and building that relates to the lake and site context.

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Another one of my classmates made us a treat as well! They are Reese's cups, Oreos and other tasty treats combined to make turkeys! Very cute!

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I wish everyone the best as you prepare for finals! Remember to take breaks when you need them and to breathe!

Best,
Jen
B.S. Architecture

CDes Mentor Program

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The College of Design has a mentor program that is offered to juniors and seniors. The goal of the college is to pair all applicants with mentors who work in the fields of design offered through CDes.

This year, as a senior, I applied again for the program and was paired with a professional working at KaasWilson Architects. The kick-off meeting is held in the Great Room at the McNamara Alumni Center - a very inspirational space for design students!

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Appetizers are served, a short announcement about the program is made both by Dean Fisher and program coordinator, Lucy Reile, and then the rest of the time is spent conversing with our mentors. The goal of the program is to learn as much as you want or can about the field you are studying from a professional who can share their expertise with you.

The program encourages each mentee to meet with their mentor once per month (more if your mentor agrees to it). From November to April, I have created a list of one thing I would like to do with my mentor each month:
1. Kick-Off Meeting
2. Cover Letter and Resume
3. Visit KaasWilson Architects and shadow my mentor for the morning
4. Coffee
5. Site Visit for a project my mentor is working on
6. Portfolio Review

I look forward to learning more about architecture from my mentor and encourage everyone to apply for the program! The program is a great success and many professionals love to mentor students. You can check out the mentor program website here. You can no longer apply for this year, but keep an eye out in your emails next September!

Best,
Jen
B.S. in Architecture

Join some amazing students in AIAS

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The nationally recognized architecture student organization at the University is the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) Minnesota chapter. Minnesota represents one of thirty Midwest chapters within AIAS. Other chapters make up the East, West and South to total in 7,000 plus AIAS members nationwide. As the student representation under the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the AIAS works hard to help their members network with the architecture profession through monthly firm tours, biweekly guest speaking events and volunteering opportunities.

The AIAS-Minnesota chapter has had the opportunity to hear from wonderful professionals such as Jennifer Yoos of award winning firm VJAA and John Cook from the world recognized firm HGA. We have toured many firms such as the smaller custom residential frim TEA2 to larger firms like RSP Architects in the historic Grain Belt Brew House building as well as construction site tours like the Northrop and multi unit housing. The AIAS also strives to help improve your educational experience through the AIAS Mentor Program where first and second year students are paired with third and fourth year students. This is another great networking program that helps students with questions about portfolio, decisions between the B.S. and B.D.A. programs, helping learn the facilities at Rapson hall, pointers on projects, classes and professors and so much more. Other events AIAS Minnesota have held are bake sales, pumpkin carving, volunteering at the Gopher football games, a 5K marathon and bowling to name a few. The major events AIAS offers are the Fall Forum and the Spring Quad conferences. On these trips members travel to a destination within the country for a very reasonable cost and are able to take tracks where members learn from professionals about topics related to architecture or architectural issues within that region. This is a fantastic way to discover architecture outside of our own back yard as well as explore new cities and meet tons of AIAS members from other chapters. These are experiences you will not forget or regret! As an AIAS member you may also be part of Freedom by Design, which is our design-build organization. FBD finds local clients with specific design-build needs and implements new designs for the client and within the client's home. Freedom by Design offers wonderful design and construction experience as well as unique projects for your portfolio!

To find out more about AIAS-MN and FBD click here. To register to become an AIAS member please visit the National AIAS website here and click Join AIAS.

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See you next time,
Jen
Architecture

Getting To Know Rapson

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The College of Design is split between the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses. McNeal Hall in the St. Paul campus includes fashion design, graphic design, housing studies and other design programs that lie outside of the architecture curriculum. Both architecture and landscape architecture are housed in Rapson Hall, named after Minnesota native architect Ralph Rapson, located in the Minneapolis campus.

Rapson Hall is best known for its old courtyard portion designed by nationally recognized and award-winning architect John Rauma of Thorshov and Cerny (Rauma also received his undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Minnesota and taught in the architecture department for 41 years) and the new "X" shaped addition designed by world renowned architect, Steven Holl.

The New Addition
1. Rapson 100, a large lecture hall where many courses and lecture series take place like the Architecture & Landscape Architecture Lecture Series occurring now through November 15th ().
2. Counselor's offices
3. Dean's office
4. Drafting and drawing labs located in the basement level
5. Architecture and Landscape Architecture library located on the second level

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The Old Portion
1. Courtyard
2. General Purpose Classrooms
3. Graduate, B.S. and B.D.A. studio spaces
4. The Architecture and Landscape Architecture offices
5. Staff offices and the mail room
6. Woodshop
7. Digital Fabrication Lab
8. Imaging Lab
9. Computer Labs (The main lab is located in Rapson 127, but there is another lab in Rapson 33 where additional computers can be utilized when no classes are in session. This is helpful when the main lab is packed!)

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Visit the College of Design's link for easy access to information about all of Rapson Hall's facilities.

Also, check out this link for tips to be successful in architecture school. You will use these all throughout your education (and they are great to carry on into your career as well!).

See you next time!

Jen, Architecture major

Believe it or not, graduate school should be considered the very minute you step foot on campus as a freshman. Although you may not know specifically what graduate school you want to choose or if you even want to go to graduate school after you obtain your undergraduate degree, but it is wise to utilize your time as an undergraduate to begin researching potential graduate programs. As a senior, I have spent the last few months researching schools and I certainly wish I had given myself more time to make my decision. I attended a graduate emissions session today with University of Minnesota Graduate Program professors Mark Swackhamer and Jim Lutz. The session provided some great tips:

1) when on vacation schedule a time to tour the local architectural college (many students can decide if it is the right college for them based on the first 60 seconds of the tour).
2) Location. choose a collage that is geographically right for you. Do you want to attend the East Coast? West Coast? Go South? Or stay in the Midwest?
3) Areas of Interest. Take note of what architectural subjects interest you (historical preservation, sustainability, etc.) and research what campuses offer these areas of focus.
4) GPA. If you want to attend a top ten school, your GPA is very important. It is recommended to apply to one school that you think is out of your "reach", one school that you are certain you will get into and others that you want to apply to. Undergraduates typically apply to 5-7 graduate schools.
5) Cost. Think about the cost of tuition, fees and living for the school(s) you choose to apply to.

You can order a published guide to architecture schools, which has all accredited graduate programs and the above information listed in one resource for you. I just ordered mine and cannot wait to get it. This publication will save lots of time from researching online. Find the book here:

Remember, it is never too late to begin researching graduate schools! There are lots of wonderful resources to help you - don't be afraid to ask your professors and peers too!

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Jen, Architecture major

Life Happens Outside of Studio

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The most important rule I always remember while in school is to make time for yourself and to take breaks when you need them. The design process can be very intense and the studio and workshop culture will keep you busy as you research, create, diagram and model your ideas. Take advantage of your classmates! They are wonderful people to befriend, as they are great resources and the select few who understand the process you are going through as an architecture student. If you need a break, take a walk to a nearby restaurant in Dinkytown or along Washington Avenue to grab lunch or dinner with your classmates or simply stop and chat with them in the hallways. The bond between architecture students is amazing and often you find yourself laughing uncontrollably at jokes only an architecture student could understand. Don't give up your hobbies outside of school either. Try your best to manage your time and schoolwork so you can fit your hobbies into your schedule at least once a week. I often plan out my assignments at the beginning of the week so I can complete them in time and fit my hobbies in as well. Continuing your hobbies is a great way to clear your mind and distress. Check out this link for Student Unions and Activities offered at the U. There are so many things to discover and become involved in! Lastly, enjoy what you are doing in school. Don't be afraid to take risks and test design boundaries because that is what makes great and intriguing architecture!

I'm an Architect, OH!!!

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Well, I'm not an architect quite yet. My name is Jen Cunningham and I am a senior in the Bachelor of Science in Architecture program here at the University of Minnesota. My love for design; space, form and order have all been confirmed through studying architecture. When not at school I enjoy spending my time in good company and discovering new places. I look forward to blogging throughout the year about my experiences as an architecture student, campus life, student organizations, the studio atmosphere and much more! You can stay connected with me by visiting this link: z.umn.edu/cdesblogs.

This photograph is from my trip to Seattle, Washington when I went to visit the University of Washington's graduate program for architecture. During my trip I explored the beautiful natural environment including hiking up the 3,500 foot elevation of Little Si. LittleSi.jpg

Here is a little parody to leave you with. Enjoy!

New Arch blogger coming soon!

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Greetings everyone...once we work out some technical issues our new architecture blogger, Jennifer Cunningham, will begin blogging. Otherwise, please enjoy Beau Sinchai's awesome blogs from last year!

College of Design Student Services

The Day to Remember

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Hello again!

This blog is the most special one because I am officially graduated! This past Saturday was the commencement ceremony for all the graduates of College of Design. Did I mention that I was one of the student speakers? It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime moment. After the speech, I took a shameless selfie from the stage as a keepsake. Here is the photo for you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Left: with Lucie, our apparel design blogger. Right: architecture students


The University of Minnesota and the College of Design have given me so much in the past four years. I learned to appreciate and love all types of differences including knowledge, ideas, age, background, etc. I was able to create lifelong friendship and even lifelong mentorship. Not to mention the leadership skills, social skills, Knowing what I know now, the University of Minnesota will still be my first choice of school.

It is sad to say that this will be my last blog. However, there will be student bloggers who will consistently update blog this summer.

Farewell,
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

It Is All Ending

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Hello again!

Final Week is officially here. Rapson Hall, home of the architecture and landscape architecture majors has been super busy in the past few days. Master degree students and undergraduate students are presenting their works non-stop. It is definitely my favorite time of the semester because all the works that your peers and your teaching assistant (TA) have been working on are up on display. You get to see the result of their interest. There are many wonderful projects being presented. One of the classes in the BDA program presented their concrete modular variation. The full-scale project was installed outside Rapson Hall. Not to mention many master degree projects that students have been working through blood, sweat, tears, and it definitely show their commitment and care.

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Meanwhile, my students at my internship at the homeless emergency housing also completed their art installation. Our program is called D3 which is a design-based teens program that blends the teen interests' with a community need and builds relevant projects around that need. For example, the bird installation in the lobby of People Serving People was created around the need for more meaningful visual element at PSP. The teens based their design off the idea of PSP guests being part of a larger community, flying in a V-formation toward a more stable and hopeful future. The 200 birds were hung up one by one and are now in the lobby of People Serving People.

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Flying birds installation by my students at the homeless emergency housing

Last, my commencement ceremony is this Saturday, May 18th at Mariucci. I will be one of the speakers as well. So, feel free to stop by!

See you next blog!

Beau S.

Architecture B.D.A.


Hi, Science!

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Hello again!

Final week is approaching. I have less than a week to prepare myself for the last week of my undergraduate degree. The feeling is unreal. Because everyone have so much going on their plates in terms of projects, test, papers, and reviews, I decided to take a little break and recharge myself. Last week, my friend and I went to the Science Museum. Conveniently, our campus has MANY bus routes pass through. This allowed us to take public transportation directly from school to the Science Museum at a very low cost compare to a taxi or driving there. Another advantage that I have to mention is the student discount that you will get when carrying the University of Minnesota ID. We got a great discount rate for being a student. The Science Museum is not the only place you are able to use your ID to take advantage of student discount...or even free admission in most cases. Be sure to check out all the fun things around town such as theaters, restaurants, sport events, or even concerts.

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Hanging out with the animals at the Science Museum. Photo by Nou H.

It was nice to take a little time off of our busy schedules to do something fun and recharge ourselves during the crazy time like this. Make sure you take care of yourself and do whatever necessary to keep a healthy mind and body, whether it is visiting the Recreational Center, or University Counseling and Consulting Services, or any other resources we have for you. Good luck with your finals!


See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

A Day to Remember

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Hello again!

This week, I was honored to be part of the 2013 Multicultural Celebration of Achievement. This event was a special celebration for the students of color who are graduating as class of 2013. There are students from all colleges at the University of Minnesota, including master degree candidates and Ph. D candidates. It was a truly emotional and inspiring event. Many of the students shared a similar experience of being the first-generation college student. The feeling of seeing your peers competed higher education, what is known to be unachievable to their parents, was beyond words. I am proud of all of them. College was a hard journey for everyone at the event, but we all have made it. Getting a college degree is not only the achievement of the graduating students, but it is also the achievement of everyone in their family who did not have a chance to attend college. It is a pretty big deal for many.


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At the MCAE Celebration of Achievement, wearing the stole, with my friend. Photo by Vall A.

We received a stole, Ghana traditional hand-woven stole to wear at our graduation. The stole was design to represent the multicultural and the unity of all. It is a reminder for us to wisely entering the world and create great changes. I cannot wait to wear it as part of my gown during graduation!


See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

Sweet and Calm

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Hello again!

The end of the last semester of my undergraduate is approaching...with less than three weeks of class! It is nice that I do not have to ride the wave and stress out over finding jobs, applying for schools, or finishing projects. Everything is in place in terms of jobs, internship, and grad school. I officially finished with all my architecture class. The only thing left I have this semester is an art studio. So, my semester is ending in a very calm way.

This past week, I visited a class taught by a former instructor, Tom Oliphant. It is a furniture design class, one of the design minor courses. Having a minor is a great way to expand your knowledge to other discipline you are interested in. Students in this class have been working very hard in the past couple weeks designing and making a pair of chairs. We also have guest critics who are professionals practicing furniture and industrial design. Hearing from the professionals was always an enlightenment experience.

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Students are presenting their chairs.

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All the chairs by students in the class.

This is what I love about the College of Design. Every time there is a review going on, regardless of my enrollment in the class, I can always ask the instructor if I can visit as a guest and listen in on what students are doing. The graduate thesis works are always interesting. It is a great way to learn about other projects people are working on and to network!


See you next blog!

Beau S.

Architecture B.D.A.

Good Arts, Good Cause

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Hello again!

I hope you are all enjoying this snowy Minnesota weather. I cannot believe this is happening during the month of April. At least the weather is making me feel like this sweet senior year is not yet to be over soon. On that note, I still forgot to purchase my cap, gown, and tassel for the commencement ceremony. The facebook page "Meanwhile in Minnesota" has some humor to spread.

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A meme from the Meanwhile in Minnesota facebook page.


Today, an architecture student group Freedom By Design (FBD) is hosting a silent auction event in the courtyard of Rapson. Because FBD is a non-profit student organization aiming to help the individuals with low-income and disability in our community. All the works that students do for the clients are free of charge to the clients. This means that the group solely relying on fundraising as a way to support the work we do.


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Photo by AIAS Freedom By Design - UMN group

This silent auction event is the 6th annual art auction event for Freedom By Design. I donated quite a few of my pieces to the event. The committee and volunteers did an amazing job of hosting the event and advertisement of the event. The public is bidding on many amazing artworks by local artists, students, and faculty. What a great way to be part of something great! I really hope that they made a lot of money to help those in need. I bid on a few amazing pieces, and I hope to win them all!


See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

None Other Is Better Than MN

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Hello again,

This week I will give you the reason why the University of Minnesota is the place to be. Besides the part that we have wonderful resources, ranked among the top universities in the nation, and located in the land of nice people, we are officially the healthiest city in the U.S.!

Minneapolis is ranked the "Healthiest City in the U.S." by Forbes Magazine.

"Minneapolis residents breathe clean air, prioritize exercise and keep their weight down, supported by a city that was among the first to add bike trails and ban smoking in public places. If you live in Minneapolis-St. Paul, you and your neighbors are less likely to have cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and asthma and are more likely to be in excellent or very good health. (It helps that you're less likely to smoke and more likely to walk or bike to work -- in the summer, at least). "Minneapolis has lots of open spaces, parks, and walking areas, and you see people walking everywhere," Thompson says. The twin cities do their part by setting aside a high percent of the city as parkland, offering plenty of ball fields, tennis courts, playgrounds, dog parks, golf courses,and recreation centers. How do Twin Cities residents keep up their commitment to fitness during the area's notoriously cold winters? Snow sports and "lots of fitness centers," says Thompson.


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Salsa Dancing Night in front of the Northrop Mall, U of M. Another fun recreational activity for the public.

I can only confirm this statement. We have our expanded Recreational Center that will be completed in 2014 and it is free for students! You will also find parks and over 10,000 lakes to enjoy year round. There are also bike lanes everywhere on campus and in the city. If you prefer not to own a bike, there are a bike-share option such as Nice Ride. Students are also get great discount for Nice Ride subscription as well and there are Nice Ride stations throughout our campus. Very convenient.

Or if you are thinking about other types of transportation, we have over 90 bus routes run through our campuses everyday. U of M students can get a U-pass, a $97 bus pass that allow you for unlimited rides for the whole semester. You will be spending approximately less than a dollar per day for this commuting option. Great way to be sustainable for your wallet and for the environment!


See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

The Past, The Present, The Future

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Hello again,

It is less than two months until graduation! One blog length is not enough to describe how excited I am, so I am going to make it short and say that I am super excited. I got all my cap and gown ready, but I still manage forgot to purchase the tassel...I must have been too excited.

Let's take this sweet moment to recap this senior year together. I started the year with being an Orientation Leader, welcoming the Class of 2016 to the University of Minnesota. It was one of the best experience I have ever had in terms of leadership involvement. I learned so much from the position especially about social justice! Not to mention the friendship I made with other Orientation Leaders. I highly recommend that you find involvement outside classroom. There is not a single thing I regret about being involved during my four years here. There are more than 700 student groups on campus for you to choose from!


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2012 Orientation Leaders...Can you find me in this picture? *Photo by Orientation and First-Year Program

Currently, my internship at a homeless shelter is going great. I am using design as a way of thinking to end homelessness. Many challenges, but I would never trade this experience for anything. Also, I am still enjoying my Research Assistant position with the Center for World Heritage Studies. Everyday at work was an eye-opening. There are so many things I have never know about the World Heritage Sites and all the works that was behind it in order to establish a site. I now have many random facts to tell people. For example, there are only one flight to Kiribati (an island country in the pacific ocean) every two weeks. So, if you want to visit this place, you better plan ahead!

The future, however, is not unknown. I got accepted to the MFA 3D Design program at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. It is where the well-known designers and architects such as Eero Saarinen, Ralph Rapson, Charles and Ray Eames, and Florence Knoll went to school! I love the U and Minneapolis, but I think this is the time that I go out and explore more cities. So, it seems to be the perfect time to say goodbye to Minneapolis. Come to the U, and you will understand why it is so hard to leave!

See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

PID WEEK!

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Hello again,

I have been mentioning the Public Interest Design Week for the past several months. Thank you for waiting so patiently, this blog entry is dedicated to PID Week just for you all!


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Images from the PID Week by John Cary. Click HERE for the slideshow.

I attended the PID Institute on Thursday and Friday. It was one of the most inspiring events in my life. There were so many people from all around the country, who are doing public interest design work all over the world. I get to learn about projects in places like Kenya, Indonesia, and Detroit. the most important knowledge I gained from this institute was how to start a public interest design project and how to get those who are outside the design discipline to join you. People still see public interest design as a separate type of design, when in fact it should be part of every design project we do. We should design for the people, not for the profit. There were also many important people at the event. There were Michael Kimmelman who is the New York Times architecture critic, Liz Ogbu who is an award-winning designer and my role-model, Bryan Bell who is the founder of SEED and Design Corps, and John Cary who is the founder of publicinterestdesign.org. This Friday at the College of Design, students will be holding a discussion on how us, the students, can start public interest design project in our community. If you happen to be nearby Rapson Hall this Friday, be sure to check it out!

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Some of the photos from CDes facebook page.

See you next blog!

Beau S.

Architecture B.D.A.

All for the Good Cause

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Hello again,

One of the architecture student groups that I involve with is having a fundraising event. This group is Freedom by Design, which I mentioned in my older blog. Freedom by Design is a group of design students who go out and create a moderate design structure for disabled, low-income individuals in our community. It is putting our knowledge into real world by helping those in needs. Because everything that Freedom by Design does is free to our client, fundraising is the only source of income for the group. This year, the group will be hosting the 5th Annual Art Auction "The Fine Collection." More detail of the date and time will be posted at later time.

I spent my spring break making artwork and jewelry for the auction. All proceed goes toward helping our clients. So, I hope that you will be able to attend the event and auction off some artwork when the time comes. Join their facebook group for more photos of the past projects and info.


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Artworks I made for the auction, including jewelry, pottery, and painting.

Also, the Public Interest Design Week is HERE! I am the happiest I could be. I will be attending the Public Interest Design Institute workshop and attending the guest speaker event: Liz Ogbu. I will spill out a little detail for now that the name tag is super fancy. I hope this gets you excited. Hold on tight! I will update you on all the details next week!

See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

Bitter Sweet

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Hello again,

This past week in my BDA workshop, we had a chance to video skype with a professor from Harvard University who is also the author of "Creating Innovator", Tony Wagner. It was a very casual conversation about education, how we can create the culture for innovations, and the future of education and design.


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Skype session with Tony Wagner in our BDA Lounge

This past Monday was really bitter sweet for me. That is because it was the last day of my last architecture class! What a great four years. I cannot ask for a better college experience. I am so glad I chose the U of M, no regrets. The best part is that my last project was super fun. I mentioned a couple weeks ago about my project to redesign the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. We recognize that traditional classroom and lecture hall setting was not an effective way of learning. Our goal is to create a new type of learning environment that supports collaboration, innovation, and create great leaders for the future. We propose our design to architects who are working in the Educational Design field of architecture, current Humphrey School of Public Affairs students, and classmates. Below are the picture from the final review. Being at the College of Design and the University of Minnesota was the best thing that ever happened to me. It shaped and defined my view as a designer in this diverse and changing world.


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Final presentation for the design proposal (Photos by Sara Marquardt)


See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

I wish you were there...

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Hello again,

Last week I promised you all that I will write about the Dean's Reception that happened on February 23rd, 2013. The wait is over, you can find all the insights and updates here. We invited admitted Class of 2017 students to visit College of Design. There were tours to both McNeal Hall (home to our Apparel Design, Graphic Design, Housing Studies, Interior Design, and Retail Merchandising programs) and Rapson Hall (home to the Architecture and Landscape Architecture programs.) The students get to meet and chat with the Dean Tom Fisher, professors, current students, and alumni over lunch. Meeting over food is always a good idea. The most exciting part will have to be visiting all the facilities and studios. Students had the chance to try our Virtual Reality Lab, Digital Fabrication Lab, Imaging Lab, W.L. Hall Workshop and both the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Design in Architecture studios. Moreover, it was a beautiful day to tour the U of M campus.

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(Left) Virtual Reality experiment, (right) casual lunch with parents, students and professors. Photos by College of Design

The highlight for me was speaking to some of you throughout the day. I got to know so many families, learn about your interests and what you bring to the College of Design. Besides all the amazing facilities in the College of Design, many more developments around the U of M will finish within this upcoming year as well. This includes the new expansion of the Recreational Center, the Light Rail Transit, the new student housing. What a great time to be a gopher!

  1. The Light Rail Transit animation

More photos from the Dean's Reception, click here!
See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

A Week of Greatness

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Hello again,

As I mentioned in one of my previous blog that the College of Design will be hosting the first ever Public Interest Design Week during March 19th -24th. There will be people from all over the places. It sure will be the largest gathering of people who are involved with public interest design. The best news is that the University of Minnesota students can now attend events for free! This is the best thing that happened to me in a month. There will be tons of great speakers, designers, policy makers, architects, educators, and students from across the country. What a great networking opportunity! So, what exactly is public interest design? It is a movement that intersect design with services. This includes, but not limited to affordable housing, education, social issues at hand, etc. It is a MUST ATTEND event. Register here: http://pidweek.eventbrite.com/ I hope to see you there!

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Also, I was part of the Dean's Reception last Saturday. It was nice to see some of you at the event. We had a presentation about each program at the College of Design. The best part was talking to prospective CDes members and getting to know some of you and your parents. I really enjoyed learning about what you all are interested in and looking forward to at the U. If you were unable to attend the event, but still have some questions, please feel free to contact me anytime. I will write about the Dean's Reception in details next week. Get excited!


See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

Rethink Lecture Hall

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Hello again,

My class ARCH 3250 Creating a Culture of Innovation: the Link between Environment and Learning is doing something very exciting. We will be redesigning the learning spaces to better support the education. We have been discussing and researching about the ineffective of traditional classrooms and lecture halls. Let's think about this. How much information do we actually absorb or how much fun do we have when sitting in classroom where you cannot move out of your seat or chat. Not everyone learn the same way. Some people prefer quiet environment, some people prefer louder environment. Some people prefer discussion, some people prefer working alone, and some people want both. This raises a very important question of how can we serve all types of learners and support they way they learn and still flexible enough to be able to adapt to any new technology that will happen in the next decade.


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Old top view of Humphrey School of Public Affairs scale model

So, our task is to redesign 2 institutions. The first one is the Humphrey School of Public Affairs which is a higher education institution. The second one is the North Park Elementary School, an elementary school in Minnesota. I choose Humphrey School of Public Affair because I am interested in higher education. I will show you the process of redesigning the building next week. Also, I will be part of the Dean's reception this weekend. If you will be there, please feel free to ask me any questions or just chat. I hope to see everyone there.


See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

Design for Change

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Hello again,

I started my internship a month ago as a Social Design Intern at People Serving People (PSP). People Serving People is a homeless emergency housing with the emphasis in providing a broad range of on-site programs to help the families with jobs, housing, etc. I had the privilege to be working with an educational organization and a design studio in Los Angeles for a project at PSP. Our project is to create a new program for teens at PSP. We hope to use the design methodology that us, designers, are familiar with. We call it D3 which stands for Dream It, Design It, Do It. It has been implemented in Los Angeles and the results are extremely positive.


This is the first time that D3 will be implemented in the setting like homeless emergency housing. We hope that we can empower the teens because they are the ones who could potentially break the homeless cycle their parents are living in.


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D3 Methodology

You may wonder how this is relates to architecture. As a designer, it is important that we realize the capability of design and its potential. Who knows, I might be designing a new facility to support this unique D3 program at PSP because the current facility was not design for that. Architecture is much more than designing buildings and design is much more than creating objects. It is invisible architecture and design. We provide these teens with the tools that they can apply to their lives. I am so glad that the unique architecture and design knowledge I have been gaining from the BDA program allows me to think outside the box. It was not hard for me to find the connection between design, homelessness, and social change.

See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

Whose Basement?

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Hello again,

Last week, I had a chance to visit Leonardo's Basement, an innovative educational organization. It was our field trip for one of the BDA workshops, ARCH 3250 - Creating a Culture of Innovation: the Link Between Environment and Learning. We look at new ways to create learning environments that will foster the individuality and creativity of every student. This means that the old traditional classroom setting with rows of table and teacher standing in front of the whiteboard is no longer relevant. It is bringing architecture to the changing world and think about how we can prepare ourselves and the future generation for the ever-evolving technology.

The moment I stepped into the space, I was amazed by the amount of random stuff ranging from glitters to mechanical piece inside a grand piano. The only instruction we had was to create an environment for learning for kids that were there. We can use anything that is available in the space. This freedom of making and doing is also applied to the kids. I saw kids using saw, climb up and down to get the stuff they want without any fear. What a wonderful way of teaching! I love how they just let the kids take risks and learn from mistake rather than preventing kids from making mistakes and hurt themselves a little.


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Left: Critique by Prof. Wes. Right: Project by a group of class ARCH 3250
Photos by Justin Sims Photography

At the end, we have "Professor Wes" who is about 8 year-old, critique our design of the space. He told us what he likes and what we can work on. For example, "I think the bubble wrap floor would be nice" -Professor Wes. I can only agree to that comment.

Last thing before I leave: the Dean's Reception is coming up. I hope to see some of you there. I will also blog about this after the event!

See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

http://www.justinzsimsphotography.com/

Architecture with Hearts

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Hello again,

I am beyond excited because the Public Interest Design Week is coming up! What is Public Interest Design? Well, let me sum it up for you. It is using design as a method of making the world a better place and by helping others through the things we can, such as architecture and design. If it helps, you can think about emergency shelters, affordable housing, etc.

The College of Design is a proud host of the first, ever, Public Interest Design Week during March 19-24. This week is full with good stuff, great speakers, amazing projects, and many more. The best thing is, it will be in Minneapolis! At the College of Design! Right at Rapson Hall! Moreover, students can attend at a very discounted price, and even free for some events. There is no excuse not to attend.


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It is a big deal. People are coming from all over the country and around the world for this event. This is a must attend for us. There are many things you can do as an architecture students relating to public interest design. Our graduate students have done some work in Haiti, the B.D.A. program also have some courses relating public interest design. We also have several student group on campus such as Freedom By Design, doing great works for our community. It is important as a designer that we all take responsibility in creating the world a better place. Be an architect with a good heart!

See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

Joining the Real World

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Hello again,

The weather in Minneapolis has been unkind lately. However, it did not stop students to come to Rapson on the first day of class (yesterday!) It was nice to see Rapson hall filled with wonderful and familiar faces again.

Recently, I got a job offer as a Social Design Intern. I will be working with a design firm, an educational institution, and a homeless emergency housing to develop new strategy program for homeless teens. It is design meets education meets homelessness. The best job I could ever ask for. You may wonder how architecture is related to my job as a Social Design Intern. First, I have to destroy any misunderstanding that architecture degree means building buildings only. There are a lot more to architecture and design than just pretty buildings. Second, I am using what we all designers are familiar with...design thinking process, and incorporate with other needed areas in our community such as education and homelessness.

Before I go, I will leave you with an inspiring video from a well-known designer, Emily Pilloton, about the importance of design education and the changing world. Enjoy!



See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

Getting Social: tweets, feeds, etc.

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Hello again,

Is your relationship with College of Design FBO*?

In case you are not aware, College of Design is everywhere on the internet. MySpace may not be one of them, but you can be sure to find CDes on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and of course, CDes website. I also hope you no longer own a MySpace account.

Social Network is a great way to connect with College of Design family. I am following the College of Design on all sites, facebook, linkedin, youtube, and twitter. After a long day with your relative's baby pictures or instagram photos online, let me tell you how nice it is to see updates about your peers, your professors, or design news. It is refreshing! There are also updates about lab hours, and changes students need to know. It is a great way to be informed in addition to emails. LinkedIn is another social network that is specialize in professional networking. As you will hear many more times, networking is really important. So, start now! Besides the student blogs you are reading, there is also D@MN blog for stories of students, alumni, and faculty.


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CDes facebook page

To get on the list, follow the links below:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UofMDesign
Twitter: https://twitter.com/uofmdesign
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=908907
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/umndesign
D@MN Blog: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/design/designatmn/

See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.
*FBO = Facebook Official

The End Is Near

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Hello again,

I proudly present the BDA studio in its most complete stage. With all the hard work of every party involved, our studio is now looking more beautiful than ever. It all started with the wonderful, forward-thinking BDA Director who recognized that the traditional architecture studio does not fully serve the needs of the unique BDA curriculum. Last year, a small number of BDA students, including myself, were part of creating the new learning environment that is suitable for the variety of design works produce by BDA students. We worked on paper, created model, built full-scale cardboard prototype to test the design, and the final design is built with plywood. Check out my older blog for information about this transformation.

We recently had the BDA Open House to celebrate this exciting completion with all the supporters who are behind the success of the BDA Studio Re-built. There were many talented professionals attended. It was great to have conversations with professionals in architecture and design about what we have done, and how we arrived to the final design of our studio. I found out that many of them are working with projects that are similar to the Re-built BDA project. They called it an Innovative Learning space projects. Sounds pretty fancy, right?

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Images from the Open House event by College of Design. For more images, visit College of Design Facebook page.

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Panorama of the current studio.


I hope you will have a chance to visit us and be part of the College of Design family!

See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

Step Into the Picture

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Hello again,

It's officially 2013! Happy New Year to you all. A couple months ago, I had a chance to be part of Step Into the Picture promotional photo-shoot with the Office for Student Engagement Program. University of Minnesota highly encourages its students to be involved outside classroom. There are plenty of opportunities for you such as internships, student organizations, study abroad, employments, volunteer, leadership positions, etc. The list is endless. With over 700 student groups on campus, there are everything to match any types of interests you may have. I have been involved with several students organizations in the past, including American Institute of Architecture Students, Freedom By Design, and Thai Student Association of Minnesota. I was also employed by Housing and Residential Life as a Community Advisor. As you can see, my involvement did not limit to only architectural-related topics.


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A poster from the photoshoot. I took this from a posting board as a keepsake. They are now being posted around campus. Look for me!


Being involved has taught me many things: time management, social skills, professional skills and most importantly friendship. The reason we encourage you to be involved is everyone who walks into classroom will walk out with the same information. Involvement will be the one thing that sets you apart from the crowd. The university is a big place, but you can make it smaller by finding the place where you belong. I definitely feel the sense of belonging because I was involved and I would advise you to do the same. There are many pictures waiting for you to step into. I did!

See you next blog!
Beau Sinchai
Architecture B.D.A.

Well, That's Poetic

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Hello again,

I just turned in my last final online. So, now it is time to plan activities for winter break. The first thing on my list is to visit an exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. There is a visiting exhibition that people cannot stop talking about: China's Terracotta Warriors. Not to mention that college students get the lowest admission rate with college ID. How can I miss this? The next thing on my list is going to see Christmas Carol at the Guthrie Theater. It is a perfect time for that. I wrote about the Guthrie in one of my past blogs. Minneapolis ranks number second in the U.S. for the highest theater seats per capita. I have no option, but to take advantage of all the resources around me.

The list is still going, but I think it is better to recap the best moment of finals week. I had a review for my BDA workshop, Furniture Design, last week. We had four weeks to design and create a piece of furniture for our own home. I chose to make a floor table because I do all my works on the floor. Here is the result:

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Whaaalaaa...a three-legged table.

It is a single line metal leg with single sheet hardwood table top. Height can be adjusted when tilting at angle. One of my critique said the table was very poetic in the way the metal leg and table piece married together. I think that comment was very poetic.

I hope you are finishing up with your finals as well. Good luck with all the things in life and happy holidays!!


See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

The Glory of Final Week

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Hello again,

Final week has officially started. Several classes in the architecture programs already have their final reviews going on. So, what is final review? Think of it like a final, but with you presenting what you have done, what you have learned, and your greatest work from that particular course. Most of the design courses will test your knowledge and your ability during the semester by "reviewing" your project. Students will most likely be faced with a review than a test or a paper. It allows students to get feedback from their peers, instructors, and even professionals in the field you are studying.

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I snapshot a view of Rapson Hall during final review week for you. It was definitely the liveliest time of the semester. Every space in the courtyard was occupied. I visited several reviews, listening to people explaining their projects and what they have been working on. It was super interesting and inspiring. The type of projects ranged from landscape architecture, to architectural photography, to furniture, and much more. Every review also have professionals in that particular field visiting and giving feedback to students. I had a review this past Monday for my furniture design class, and we have real furniture designers from company like Blu Dot as our guest critiques. Nothing is better than having these "big deal" people look at your project and talk about your project.

The final week is still going on and I cannot wait to be inspired by all of the talented design students. I hope you are as excited as I am.


See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

Escaping Plan: Venice

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Hello again,

The temperature has been up and down lately and it makes me think about escaping Minnesota during winter. My plan is about to come true because I just submitted my study abroad application! The destination is Venice, Italy. This program will occur during the month of May, so I will have to bear this Minnesota weather in the meantime. Even though May is not really winter anymore, this plan still sounds amazing.

I chose Venice for many reasons. First, I am already familiar with Asian culture and American culture. I want to explore the European culture. Second, Venice is a city on water where car is not the primary mode of commuting. Third and the most important reason, Venice has a long history of architecture and establishment. It is the perfect place to study the changes in culture, history, landscape, and architecture through buildings. Not to mention that it is one of the prettiest places on earth.

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An old Venice map, drawn in 1847

There are so many learning abroad opportunities here at the University of Minnesota. Check out the Learning Abroad website for more information. You can choose to do study abroad, volunteer abroad, intern abroad, you name it. I chose to study abroad during the month of May because it works best with my schedule. You can choose to do a semester long, year long, January term, or May term like I did. Have fun exploring the world!

See you next blog!
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

It Was A Chair. Is It a CHAIR?

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Hello again,

It's crazy to think that the end of this semester is less than a month away. On that note, I think it would be a good idea to show you one of the project I recently completed for a class. I talked about a furniture design class I am taking and how we are going to "pimp my ride" dumpster chairs in my past blog. Well, the wait is over. I have the re-designed chair(?) prototype right here for you.

As I mentioned in previous blog, I don't use a chair, I don't own a chair, and I am not planning on getting one anytime soon. So, the dumpster chair I found has to evolve into something else that would enhance my experience of working on the floor. Below is my 3-minute proposal and result sketch presentation. I discovered that the backrest piece has a unique curvature that allow my body to shift at different angle when resting on top of it. After several trials and errors, I came up with a system of multipurpose angled wood piece as you see in the image below.


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The Sketch Presentation


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This image was taken after the class was over. The professor left his camera unattended for a short period of time, so we decided to have a little fun with it. *Photo by Tom Oliphant

Your health is the most important thing around this time of year. So, use all the resources you need to help you end your semester well. Visit the Writing Center, SMART Tutoring, Counseling and Consulting services, Recreational Center, and whatever else you need. The U of M got it all for you.


Good luck with classes and see you next blog!
-Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

Be My Guest!

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Hello again!

I wrote about the progress of rebuilding the BDA studio in the last blog, so this blog is dedicated to our dearest friend, BS studio. B.S. stands for Bachelor of Sciences in Architecture which is the other program option beside Bachelor of Design in Architecture (B.D.A.)

I visited the senior BS studio last night to see what projects the BS students are working on. They are currently redesign the Weisman Art Museum plaza and the Washington Avenue Bridge, both located on campus. The intent of the redesign was to create a space that would bring people in and connect the space to the river. Right now, the Washington Avenue Bridge is just a bridge without any significant use. BS students want to connect the bridge to its surrounding, the river, the daylight, and create more uses for the University students. What a great idea!

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Nathan S. is working on his model of a pavilion space on the bridge with the program of a space for studying and gathering with the view of the river.


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(left) BS students are staying late after hours to work on their projects, (middle) wall of process works and ideas over the semester, (right) Ze C.'s work of a gallery that will be on the bridge to draw the connection to the museum exhibit

I also visited an architecture elective class which opens to all upperclassmen BDA, BS, and graduate students. The class is ARCH 4150: From Trait to Form Performance: Study of Masonry Structure. The students researched several precedent works to study stereotomy with the focus on the underlying geometry and construction of vaults. Nou H., my friend in this class said that they are creating a vault from the Municipal building in New York by Guastavino. They created several models of different vaults, then they chose a vault to build at ΒΌ scale you see below. I witnessed the construction and I was amazed by how strong the vault is when considering the amount of material and the thickness of material used. Simply mind-blowing.

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(left) students are working on the vault, (right) constructed vault is being tested *Photo by Sara Marquardt

I hope these works get you excited about architecture program. We would love to have you as part of our family. Remember that the deadline for Fall 2013 admission is December 15th!


See you next blog,
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

Rules #1 Don't Talk About the BDA

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Hello again!

Nothing can start off this week blog better than this picture:

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This is the entrance of the BDA (Bachelor of Design in Architecture) Studio which references an all-time great movie, Fight Club. In my first blog, I talked about the work I did in one of my BDA classes where we re-designed and prototyped the entire work space of the BDA program for all BDA students. Design-build like this is a rare opportunity for design students worldwide. We have the opportunity to do that right here at the University of Minnesota - College of Design.

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BDA studio, just look at the amazing amount of space students get to work with

I was part of the first "Re-build the BDA" workshop and now it is in its fifth generation. There have been great ideas and works produced by the students in each generation. So, I went to the 5th generation class to talk to students about the progress, their experience, and here is what I got for you.

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Students are constructing their design out of wood. The products will be used by students in the BDA program.


The class are currently working on building multiple prototypes variation of the shelving units along the wall, and the multipurpose dividing panels for classrooms. They are using wood instead of cardboard which was the material used in the first generation class. This gives students an opportunity to be hands on and learn how to turn their design ideas into a well-constructed object.

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(Left) 1st generation of the class- Spring 2012, (right) 5th generation of the class - Fall 2012

There are many things that were produced in the 2nd -4th generation classes and I want to give all the credit to everyone who is involved with the project. It's hard to believe that students are the ones who design and build all these, but they did. Remember that this could be you one day. If you have a chance to visit the U, I highly recommend stopping by the BDA studio to see what is going on. Be sure to ask a lot of questions when you are visiting!

See you next blog,
Beau S.
Architecture B.D.A.

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