Once-lers Anonymous

“It's not about what it is, it's about what it can become.” ― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Students Travel for Inspiration, Education

on September 29, 2011

Amanda Neely, a third-year architecture student at the University of Arkansas, leaned back from her desk strewn with sketches, incomplete models and a pineapple cup. “What scale are you doing your model in?” she asked a student a few desks away.

At 11:20 p.m. on a Thursday, it is just another night that won’t end until 2 a.m., spent with half of the other third-year students in Field House, the temporary home of the architecture studio while their normal location, Vol Walker Hall, is under construction.

Huge time commitments, such as working on architecture studio projects for days straight, are now an understood cost of being an architecture student. So spending the university’s first fall break on a class trip to Boston is just another weekend of long hours for the third-year architecture students.

“I’ve been wanting to go for a while,” Neely said, smiling at the mention of Boston.

Grace Smith, 20, perked up from her desk across from Neely’s. They had been discussing and planning what to pack since they found out about the trip, she said.

As well as its magnificent architectural sites, faculty chose Boston because of its proximity to Wells-Lamson Quarry in East Barre, Vt. Students will design an artist complex for the site during the spring semester, to compete for thousands of dollars in travel money from the Lyceum Fellowship.

The Lyceum Fellowship, founded by architect Jon McKee in 1985, seeks to “advance the development of the next generation of talent by…stimulating perceptive reasoning and inspiring creative thought in our field,” according to the fellowship’s website. Travel awards of $12,000 and $7,500 are awarded to the first and second place winners respectively, while the third place winner receives a $1,500 grant, the site reported.

“As a young man in college, [Jon traveled],” said Jennifer Sweet, a former architect and member of the Lyceum Fellowship’s board of directors. “It broadened his design insights tremendously. The effect of seeing a notable structure…is something you have to experience, the scale of a building, the way the light hits the building, the way the forms interact…all those aspects of design come alive when you are in person experiencing something.”

Each year no more than 15 schools are invited to compete for the Lyceum Fellowship, including the University of Arkansas, the University of Cincinnati and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln this year.

Sweet, who has been involved with the fellowship since its creation, said they originally picked schools where they thought students might not have had as many travel opportunities as those at others.

However, over the years they have also sought geographic variety and included other schools who expressed an interest in participating.

The University of Arkansas has received an invitation every year since 2008, after Marlon Blackwell, head of the university’s architecture department, served on the Lyceum Fellowship jury and then wrote the program students addressed with their designs in 2007.

Neely plans to spend the summer completing her study abroad requirement in Mexico City, which she chose for its emphasis on hand drawing over computer-aided design. However, if she won she would like to complete both programs. Traveling to other places is especially important because there is not a lot of architecture to see in Northwest Arkansas, she said.

The university’s first fall break will provide third-year architecture students the chance to visit Boston, Wells-Lamson Quarry and other architectural sites in the area.

“We probably would have taken [the trip] at the same time, but maybe not for as long,” said Russell Rudzinski, an adjunct assistant professor since 2000.

After flying to Massachusetts, the group of 40 students will spend two nights in Lowell, Mass. Their first full day will be spent almost three hours away in Vermont, exploring the competition site on the edge of an abandoned granite quarry, he said.

The 2012 program was written by Peter Bohlin and co-authored by his associates Ray Calabro and Denis Schofield. Bohlin received the 2010 Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects, and his work ranges from Seattle City Hall to Apple Stores around the world, according to Architectural Record’s website.

For the program, students must design a structure that is integrated with and reflective of the site, Wells-Lamson Quarry. The structure must have an educational pavilion, artists’ studios and residences as well as a memorial for quarry workers who lost their lives in the name of the industry, according to the fellowship’s website.

“Seeing the site will give them a chance to experience it with all their sense,” Rudzinski said. Walking around the site allows the students to experience its expansiveness and the scars of the quarry in a way they couldn’t with a few photos. It will also increase their understanding of the quarry, by allowing them to see the cutting and finishing of granite, he said.

The next day they will visit the famous Phillips Exeter Academy Library, designed by Lou Kahn in the ‘60s, according to the Phillips Exeter Academy website. The building was recognized in 1997 with the American Institute of Architects’ Twenty-Five Year Award for being artistically ahead of its time.

The remaining two days will be spent in Boston, Rudsinski said, touring fabrication labs at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as other sites around the city.

If other options had been presented, Clark would probably still have chosen Boston, he said. “These trips are valuable. …Boston is a really unique city.”

“It’s kind of the general philosophy of the school that we should try to get our students out to real live architecture as often as we can,” Rudzinski said. ““We live in a world that is headed towards globalization,” so students need to be exposed to it, he said.

With 15 schools competing, there can be around 200 entries, most of which will be very strong, Sweet said.

A UA student received a merit award in 2008, recognition that at least one aspect of the project was exceptional, and another received second place in 2011.

“It definitely makes [winning] a realistic and achievable goal,” said third-year Michael Clark.

Architecture students are required to study abroad either during the summer in Mexico City, or for a semester at the UA Rome Center.

“If I won, I would probably look at [both] Mexico City and Rome,” Clark said. He plans to spend the fall 2012 semester studying in Rome.

“You just have to treat it like any other project,” Neely said. “If you get too hyped up about it you’ll overwork yourself.”

Regardless of the project, they are used to putting in as much time effort as it takes.

“Pretty much every opportunity you get, you [should spend] a good amount of it in studio,” said Clark, who spent around nine hours working in the architecture studio on Thursday alone.

“Our students will do the best work they can, and will hold their own,” Rudzinski said. “They are well prepared to do it and do it well.”

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One response to “Students Travel for Inspiration, Education

  1. Bret Schulte says:

    I love the new lede. Nicely written! Good details. I can see it. As a general rule, if you have someone asking a question in your scene, you need to provide the answer — even if it means little to the story itself. otherwise, it just feels unfinished and is a nagging annoyance to the reader.
    –Amanda Neely, a third-year architecture student at the University of Arkansas, leaned back from her desk strewn with sketches, incomplete models and a pineapple cup. “What scale are you doing your model in?” she asked a student a few desks away.

    At 11:20 p.m. on a Thursday, it is just another night that won’t end until 2 a.m., spent with half of the other third-year students in Field House, the temporary home of the architecture studio while their normal location, Vol Walker Hall, is under construction.

    Nut graf is much better. But we need a bit more. If this Boston trip isn’t a big deal then why are we reading about it? You’ve got to lay out for the reader what the stakes are.
    –Huge time commitments, such as working on architecture studio projects for days straight, are now an understood cost of being an architecture student. So spending the university’s first fall break on a class trip to Boston is just another weekend of long hours for the third-year architecture students.

    Not a great quote. Great quotes have emotion or analysis or humor.
    –“I’ve been wanting to go for a while,” Neely said, smiling at the mention of Boston.

    dangling modifiers:
    –As well as its magnificent architectural sites, faculty chose Boston because of its proximity to Wells-Lamson Quarry in East Barre, Vt.

    It’s taking too long to get to the meat of this story, which is the fellowship/contest and why it’s a big deal. Why the fellowship matters 00 its prestige — is key and needs to be established quickly. You’ve got to hook the reader early.
    –Grace Smith, 20, perked up from her desk across from Neely’s. They had been discussing and planning what to pack since they found out about the trip, she said.

    As well as its magnificent architectural sites, faculty chose Boston because of its proximity to Wells-Lamson Quarry in East Barre, Vt. Students will design an artist complex for the site during the spring semester, to compete for thousands of dollars in travel money from the Lyceum Fellowship.
    don’t need. You’ve already established where the material is coming from.
    –the site reported.

    You need to refer to him by last name:
    –[Jon traveled]

    who is ‘they’. The fellowship is an ‘it’
    –Sweet, who has been involved with the fellowship since its creation, said they originally picked schools where they thought students might not have had as many travel opportunities as those at others.

    I get why this is in here, but you need to make it clearer to the reader. Seems random.
    –Neely plans to spend the summer completing her study abroad requirement in Mexico City, which she chose for its emphasis on hand drawing over computer-aided design. However, if she won she would like to complete both programs. Traveling to other places is especially important because there is not a lot of architecture to see in Northwest Arkansas, she said.

    senses? typo?
    –with all their sense,”

    still think this story isn’t making the case about why this fellowship is a big deal. Seems to be a part of a story about why architecture students travel, which would be fine. But then the nut graf would have to reflect that.

    This story is much improved, but still has a ways to go. I like the details you’ve added and the effort you’ve put into reconnoitering the angle.

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