Architecture Students Design the Future – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Architecture Students Design the Future

Rochester Exhibition Features HWS Designs

The Sketch: Anyone who spends a bit of time in a city could quickly give their analysis of ‘what the city needs’ or ‘what it doesn’t need.’ But few can make that survey with a sense of site-specific need as well as tangible, drafted designs for what future buildings will look like. That’s where HWS architecture students enter the blueprint.

The Site: Rochester Regional Community Design Center, 1115 East Main St., Rochester, N.Y.

The Designers: 10 HWS students in Architectural Design Studio 301 taught by Instructor of Art Robert Wolfe.

The Exhibition: Urban Design Studios opened on Friday, Dec. 12 and will run until Friday, Jan. 23. Since the RRCDC participates in the First Friday series in Rochester, the museum will have the exhibition open from 6 – 9 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 2. “We will be putting our work on display in the ‘real-world,’ something like this does not happen all too often for college students,” explained Jeff Maxwell ’10, a student in Wolfe’s course.

The Connection: “The Colleges are primarily involved with the exhibition due to my previous work with the RRCDC and the full support of Stan Mathews and the Provost’s office,” explained Wolfe.

The Assignment: The student work is the result of an intensive, semester-long project under Wolfe’s guidance. In all, the students have participated in four formal reviews, many group pin-ups and even more desk critiques as well as guest critiques.

“In fact, what each student, architect, or designer has created is an honest attempt to improve the city of Rochester.  What’s more, we certainly had a lot of fun doing it,” Maxwell said.

During their first visit to the city, students performed an intensive investigation of the High Falls neighborhood, which translated into a presentation for city planners and architects. They then created a 2-D collage expressing what they found to be compelling about the site.

Bringing their ideas to life from the page, students transformed their 2-D collages into a 3-D site interpretation, incorporating what type of building they wanted to design. From hard- to softcopy, they used computer software to produce several digital renderings of their designs to match their 2-D and 3-D concepts. The students then finalized their conventional, non-computer-based drafting to refine their designs, working back and forth between drawings and models to progress their designs.

The Importance: “The significance of participating is to expose the students to a design scenario that they will likely see if they continue to become architects,” Wolfe explained. “Cities like Rochester across the U.S. represent a large number of projects that architectural firms will be engaged in for years to come with the desire of many decaying cities to re-energize their urban cores.”

“An exhibition like this expands your ideas because it allows you to see other students at your same level in school and see what they are doing and how they are doing it because you have the opportunity to ask them,” explained Kevin Olson ’09, another student in the course. “It can give you inspiration for the future and also helpful and needed constructive criticism to make your own work better in the future.”

“The best part about this project and the class this semester is the sense of comradery,” Maxwell said.  “We’re working on something that is larger than the confines of a classroom.”

“The most rewarding part of this entire process is the now the ability to look at an incredible finished product, be proud of how much time and effort you have put in and realize how your design process has been enhanced through the constant pressure put on you from the great work of your peers and the critics views of your work,” Olson said.