Mensching ’11 Talks Architecture – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Mensching ’11 Talks Architecture

As an architectural designer and 3D renderer/modeler at the international architecture and design firm, the Rockwell Group, Maxwell Mensching ’11 tests the boundaries between architecture and technology on a daily basis.

At the Rockwell Group, Mensching started in the model shop, but soon, he says, “I took it upon myself to do iterations of some of the models I was building for other architects. They started to notice I could design and build upon their concepts, which is what HWS teaches so well-how to design and iterate, the ability to be creative and generate content based on any given set of design principles. Within a few months I was pulled out of model shop and placed on to the main floor with architects and designers.” At Hobart, Mensching was an architectural studies major who studied abroad in Copenhagen.

“Now I work in a part of the Rockwell Group that deals mostly with technology and its integration in architecture,” Mensching says, referring to “The LAB.”

In “The LAB”-an LLC within the Rockwell Group comprised of designers, strategists, writers, creative coders, hardware and software engineers-Mensching and his colleagues recently completed a proposal for the new interior lobby for Viacom’s New York City headquarters, large interactive display.

“It uses infrared sensors to tell where people are in the space,” Mensching explains. “The display is composed of super-high resolution LED tiles, and each tile has a switchable glass overlay. As you get closer to this 20′ x 25′ wall the glass tiles become transparent and reveal content as you pass by. It’s one of the many interactive modes we incorporated into our design. The work pushes the boundaries between interaction and how you create a space with technology that’s a fun, interactive, playful spectacle.”

The LAB is also working on a project called “Illuminarium Experiences,” a 50,000 square-foot temporary structure designed to travel the world.

“Temporary structures and mobile architecture are things we’re really interested in,” Mensching says. “Mobile architecture is a niche area that’s growing due to sustainability and temporary nature. People shift focus so quickly, but with mobile architecture you can bring it to multiple locations and make an impact rather than staying in one location.”

Mensching has been working on these projects with the same team in the small studio for more than two years now. “It’s tight knit,” Mensching says. “Everyone knows everyone; everyone is fully integrated into the design of projects; everyone’s making design decisions. We all play off of each other’s strengths; it’s great to be a part of such a collaborative and fun work environment.”

Now, with his experience from HWS and what he’s learned at the Rockwell Group, Mensching hopes now to get back into the classroom and refine his skills.

“Grad school was always something I wanted to do, but the Rockwell Group gave me the opportunity to take some time and get professional training,” he says. “I’m ready to learn in the classroom again, to expedite the path to becoming an architect and reinforce what I’ve done.”

While the Rockwell Group helped him “dream and take things from my mind and put them on paper, I’m really looking forward to taking things to the next level and learning everything I can about the industry from the ground up,” Mensching says.

Even with applications submitted to the architecture schools at the Pratt Institute, Syracuse University, Cornell University, Yale University, Harvard University, the University of Virginia and Columbia University, Mensching is still “constantly building and refining my portfolio.”

He hopes grad school will be a chance to “develop and enhance my design skills. I’m ready to learn more about cohesive design and work on bigger projects. I’m really interested in mobile and contemporary arch as well as more kinetic designs-stuff that moves. I’m drawn to things that don’t stand still.”