09/01/20 SPACED OUT Competition Winners Propose Pandemic-Driven School Modifications


This summer, over 50 students on 21 teams submitted proposals for SPACED OUT, a juried design competition at the School of Architecture that challenged students to reimagine the future of collaborative work environments in light of COVID‑19. In their proposals, students were to consider their project’s cultural impact on our community, innovatively use materials and technology, and value transdisciplinary thinking in order to create a strong sense of design synergy. While the primary focus was to provide a dynamic space for studying and working at USC, proposals for spaces that foster socially vibrant work and study environments, as well as critical guidance for designs that contribute to the well-being of users, were also encouraged. 

The competition’s prestigious jury included Annie Chu of Chu + Gooding Architects, Saidee Springall of a | 911, and Kulapat Yantrasast of wHY. Winners in the following three categories were announced on Saturday, Aug. 29. 

Jury Awards

Three teams received $2,000 each as jury award winners. “Open: Air,” designed by Vinisha Narendran (M.Arch '21), Candice Suh (M.Arch '21), and Michael Clarke (M.Arch '21), encouraged working outside. "Open: Air is a thoughtful and pragmatic set of solutions and suggestions to improve the learning and collaborating environment. The jury appreciates the comprehensiveness of the proposal as well as the details and logistics of the design solutions,” said juror Kulapat Yantrasast. 

Mask,” a proposal from Weilan Chen (B.Arch '23), An An Lee (B.S. Architectural Studies, '22), Yuanyang Zhou (B. Arch '23) and Zheng Cao (B.Arch '23), redesigned Watt Hall to improve circulation routes and divide studios into smaller rooms. "The jury recognizes and appreciates an ambitious architectural intervention that transforms and adapts an existing building to address the new requirements for spaces for learning, teaching and socializing,” said juror Saidee Springall. 

Cheers,” a proposal from JP Luikart (M.Arch ‘21) and Louise Rogier (M.Arch ‘21), won both a jury award and a prototype research award for its attempt to provide new entryways into the School of Architecture while activating outdoor spaces. Juror Annie Chu noted that this project proposed "multiscalar and elegant systemic improvements based on close observation of context, programmatic needs, and the procedures of activities. The jury appreciates the palpable potential of the comprehensive overhaul strategy to facilitate new use of marginal spaces, reinvigorate well-used areas, create a new identity for the entire complex, and enhance social interaction during COVID and beyond."

An honorable mention was also awarded to Jiawei Ji (M.Arch ‘21) for the “Virtual Extension” project, which envisioned the entire school becoming an immersive digital platform to reunite our dispersed selves in one location again.

Student Choice Awards

All USC School of Architecture students were invited to vote for their two favorite proposals. Over 100 students participated, and one graduate and one undergraduate team were granted $2,000 Student Choice Awards for their respective projects. “Form Follows Infection,” a proposal by Alexa Blanchet (B.Arch '21), Amanda Moore (B. Arch '21), and Lara Mendez (B.Arch '21), won the undergraduate award as well as a Prototype Research Award. Students noted in their online comments that the project was feasible and dynamic without requiring redesigns of the building structure. 

The graduate team of Yilu Chen (M.Arch '21) and Siyi Xie (M.Arch '21) won an award for their proposal, “Interweaving Archit Utopia,” which created a gallery bridge as a key design element. One student commented that “the project is a radical move to increase usable space that allows everybody to maintain social distancing. In addition, the gallery bridge facilitates interaction throughout the space.”

Two honorable mentions were also awarded in this category. The undergraduate honorable mention went to Katherine Poletti (B.Arch '21, Katie Hayes (B.Arch ’21), Yiwei Lyu (B.Arch '21), and Abriannah Aiken (B.Arch '21) for their project, “Tectonic Transparency.” The graduate honorable mention was awarded to Tara Akdora (M.Arch '22) and Katelyn Lentz (M.Arch '22) for “KOZA.”

Prototype Research Awards

Dean Curry selected the following committee to review all 21 proposals for potential prototype development: Professors Geoffrey von Oeyen (Chair), Amy Murphy, Scott Mitchell and Graduate Student Liem Tran. Three teams were awarded $2,500 each for materials to produce prototypes of their proposals as design research regarding COVID and the built environment. In addition to the two projects previously mentioned (“Cheers” and “Form Follows Infection”), Darwin Hu (B.Arch '22) and Noah Seador (B.Arch '22) won a Prototype Research Award for their project, “Reworking the Laser Cutting Procedure,” which would reimagine the current laser-cutting process at USC Architecture by incorporating social distancing guidelines. The award committee noted that "this proposal is deceptively simple in its approach but could radically transform the way some services at the USC School of Architecture are provided in a COVID landscape."

Several licensed faculty members mentored several teams, allowing students on those teams to submit their hours towards NCARB AXP credit hours. Participating faculty members included Rob Berry, Mina Chow, Kim Coleman, John Dutton, Alvin Huang, and Charles Lagreco. 

To view the full gallery of student project submissions, visit https://exhibitions.uscarch.com/spaced-out-design-competition-gallery/


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