01/20/21 Tenth Annual Student Design Charrette Offers Solutions to Local Urban Challenges


On Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, the USC Architectural Guild presented awards to three student teams for their work in the 10th annual and first virtual Design Charrette. Chaired by Guild Board Member Annmarie Plenge, principal at Gensler, this year’s weeklong challenge asked fourth-year, fifth-year, and graduate students from the USC School of Architecture to reimagine a new future for downtown Los Angeles that re-engages the public realm. Teams prepared a design proposal for a two-block area of DTLA that reimagined the relationship between the street and buildings to support a vibrant and active community for a post-pandemic world.

First place went to students Katie Hayes, Abri Aiken, and Lucy Lyu for their proposal Ripple. Through its architecture and programming of a new cultural hub in DTLA, the project proposed a ripple effect that would impact all users and the future of the cityscape. At the center of their project is the Central Library, the origin of the ripple, which highlights the voices of the community as the source of change. Curved pathways, sculpture gardens, and raised planting beds extend from the amphitheater to the converted pedestrian-oriented and greenery-heavy streetscape. 

“We also hope to aid the homelessness crisis through social equity programs including a navigation center, permanent supportive housing, social services, and entrepreneurship incubators,” the team’s proposal stated. 

Second place went to Welcome Mat, a project by students Christina Shin, John Perez, and Jared McKnight, and third place went to Community Net, created by students Sam Anderson, Raul Menzes, and Annabelle Fung. The three winning teams received prizes of $7,500, $5,000, and $3,000, respectively. 

Two new awards were also introduced this year. The Student Choice Award went to The Net, comprised of Hanchen Xu, Emily Wu, and Rachel Alexander. The Guild Choice Award went to Cloud Valley, comprised of Ekaterina Bogdanova, Liudmila Sergeeva, and Wanting Zhou. Students on both of these winning teams received $250 each. 

The esteemed judges that evaluated this year’s entries were Kelli Bernard, Executive Vice President, National Cities Leader at AECOM; Sascha Delz, assistant professor at USC School of Architecture; Michael Maltzan, founder of Michael Maltzan Architecture; Dana McKinney, architect and urban planner at Gehry Partners, LLP.; and Justin Garrett Moore, AICP, NOMA, program officer, Humanities in Place at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

“The competition was developed to put the students’ classroom skills to the test and help them develop the tools to articulate concepts during future client meetings,” said Plenge. “I was profoundly impressed with the level of innovation and creativity in the designs submitted. The future of design is bright!”

To view this year’s projects, visit our virtual Design Charrette gallery here: https://exhibitions.uscarch.com/10th-annual-usc-architectural-guild-charrette/

Founded in 1958, the USC Architectural Guild serves as a support group for the School of Architecture by forming a unique link between students, alumni and faculty at the School of Architecture and the professional community. The Guild has provided countless hours and significant financial support to the School throughout its history, making a direct impact on students’ lives and the design/build industry overall.

To learn more about the USC Architectural Guild or to become a member of the Guild, visit https://arch.usc.edu/architectural-guild.


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