Dept. of Architecture celebrates excellence, honors top achievers

An afternoon of juried presentations showcasing the Texas A&M Department of Architecture's best graduate student work from the academic year culminated with the selection of the year’s top project and the presentation of student and faculty awards, all part of the department's second annual Celebration of Excellence, held Thursday, May 9 at the Hilton College Station and Conference Center.

“This annual celebration identifies and recognizes excellence in the classroom and myriad other special achievements by our students and faculty,” said Ward Wells, head of the department.

The event featured student presentations of the year’s top five design proposals as selected by department faculty. The top project, chosen by a jury of distinguished design professionals, went to Jing Zhang's Cowboy Pantheon, a museum for showcasing cowboy heritage.

Shane Bearrow presented his design of a concert venue, Jake McKinney presented his design of a downtown sports stadium, Kevin Walsh presented his design of structures in Haiti that could help the nation recover from an earthquake and improve it's ailing economy and Fang Xu presented his design of a senior health care complex.

Judges for the 2013 Celebration of Excellence design competition were:

  • Joe Mashburn, dean of the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture at the University of Houston;
  • Sandra Paret, director of corporate accounts at HOK;
  • Elizabeth Price, project manager at Upchurch Architects, Inc., 
  • Adrian Smith, founding principal of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture and designer of the world’s tallest building, and
  • David Zatopek, vice president, Corgan Associates.

Ryan Buys was presented with the AIA Henry Adams Medal and Certificate and Kristen Robbins was presented with the AIA Henry Adams Certificate, which recognize students who have demonstrated excellence throughout their program’s studies.

Lance Kubiak was presented with the Alpha Rho Chi Medal , which recognizes outstanding leadership, accomplishment, service and promise of professional merit.

The Architectural Research Centers Consortium’s King Medal, which recognizes innovation, integrity and scholarship in research was awarded to Rana Zadeh, who couldn't attend because she has joined the faculty at Cornell University as an assistant professor of design and environmental analysis.

Undergraduate students recognized with top integrated studio projects were Sam Florance, Ben Wilde, Chloe Bennett, Jaclyn Gutierrez, Clinton Stanford, Brandon Vento, Dylan Weiser, Caroline Vaughn, Josh Cristy and Meredith Monroe.

Michael O' Brien, professor of architecture, and Gabriel Esquivel, assistant professor of architecture, were announced as recipients of graduate and undergraduate teaching awards, respectively, on the basis of a student vote.

“These awards recognize not only our most promising students and their individual accomplishments, but also represent the level of excellence of all our students,” said Wells. “The recognition of students and faculty is truly a cause for a celebration of excellence.”

The Celebration of Excellence is a project of the Department of Architecture’s Council of Excellence, an elite group of department friends and former students committed to supporting and enhancing architecture program excellence, building relationships with students, and bridging gaps between the academic and professional worlds.

posted April 16, 2013