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Architecture Thesis Students Honored

Bruce Buescher's 'Beauty' model

This spring, in recognition of fifth year thesis work, three separate awards were given. The Thesis Writing Award was given for excellence in the formulation of a thesis idea and its supportive research expressed in an essay, while the Thesis Design Award recognized outstanding architectural design as an expression of the thesis idea. The Thesis Studio Award recognized exemplary leadership within the studio environment.  The Thesis Studio Award is given by Professors Behazd Nakhjavan and Randal Vaughan as leaders of the studios, while recipients of the Thesis Writing Award and Thesis Design Award are chosen by review juries.

View the students' gallery of work 

This year’s Thesis Writing Award was received by Bruce Buescher for his essay entitled “Beauty, Ecology, and Architecture.” The essay seeks a refocusing of the question of beauty by exploring its relationship to ecology understood as an order that permeates our world played out in the “relationships that inevitably tie everything together. Beauty arises out of the revealing of these relationships.” Within the paper, ground and light are shown as “two fundamental elements of our world, offering a particular ecological order to explore. Light contains order in its movement and behavior, and ties everything to itself as the ultimate source of life,” while, “ground has an order in its layering and self-concealing nature.” The two are bound together: “light falls to reveal the ground and ground rises to reveal the light.” Following the thoughts from the essay, the architectural implications of ground and light were developed through physical model cast in plaster, a method chosen because “casting lends itself to mass and void,” which are possible articulations of ground and light. The reading committee cited the paper as an excellent and fresh approach to its subject. Along with this writing recognition, Bruce also received the Thesis Studio Award for his engaging pursuit of his thesis project that provided a leading example for his colleagues. 

Stephan Bianchi merited the Thesis Design Award work as recognized by the end of the year invited guest design jury. Stephen’s theme of research was slowness in architecture. In pursuit of this idea, his building pairs the “responsibilities of creating a functional building” with the tactful insertion of moments of reprieve.” These “extra” moments begin to make up this idea of slowness. “They offer the opportunity to relax and reflect, to think and discover, to expand the mind by offering nothing more that time and space to do so.” The review jury noted the patient pursuit of the theme and careful attention to materials and detail.

This year’s thesis studio produced a wealth of other excellent work. Essays of note were Kevin Laferriere's “Connect/Create: Metaphor and Emergent Possibilities in Architecture” and Ian Maple’s paper entitled “Intervallum.” Emily Johnson’s careful design work pursuing the process of healing along with Mary Elsa Tomlin’s exploration of the practices of quilting received praise from the design review jury. Laura Bathke’s consideration of the vernacular of Montgomery, Alabama raised the question of just how to design for local culture within an increasingly global condition. This question was relevant to all the students' work since as in previous years, all the design projects where set in Montgomery, which continues to be a rich site of research for the fifth year thesis studio.