Raquel at Fay Jones School of Architecture: 5th Year Reviews

 In Culture, Design

This is the last blog post from our esteemed team member, Raquel Mayorga. After 5 years with Gettliffe Architecture, Raquel has moved on to new architectural adventures.  Our studio will miss her generous, creative, and invigorating approach to work.  We’re proud of how far she has come these past 5 years, completing her I.D.P. as a step in the path to architectural licensure.  We look forward to future professional interactions (and parties)!

by Raquel Mayorga

I was invited to be part of the jury during the fifth year reviews at the Fay Jones School of Architecture in Fayetteville, Arkansas this year. What an honor to receive an email from the head department extending such invite! I was excited to finally be “on the other side.” It would also be my first time visiting Fayetteville since I graduated in 2010.

Those who have made it through architecture school understand the implications of being in the jury:

After working on a project for many hours, days, months, pulling all-nighters and preparing graphics and boards for their final presentation, architecture students present their projects in front of a jury. The jury is usually comprised of faculty, successful practicing architects, and other architecture professionals – people who have accumulated experience in the field and possess a great sense of design.

And now I was there, in that jury that once seemed so scary! I was my own worst nightmare from 7 years ago. Being confronted with complex and unexpected questions, as the culmination of a year’s work developing a project, is a rattling experience – and not one of my favorite parts about architecture school! Remembering that, I was committed to:

  1. Avoid making someone cry.
  2. Ask simple, straightforward questions that would help me and my fellow jurors understand the project better.
  3. Give constructive criticism, and when needed, offer thoughtful disagreement.
  4. Celebrate victories. Express satisfaction and praise when a project is deserving!

This year’s projects focused on the development of an urban design and strategy for Huntsville, Arkansas, a small farming town that has need to redefine their pedestrian paths, bike lanes, and civic areas. Huntsville is expecting growth, and will need to accommodate an increase in traffic over the next few years. The current population is 2,346 people. The student projects focused on the creation of a “cultural center” in the town, where the community can congregate and hold meetings and activities. The projects also took into account an awareness of wildlife and natural vegetation, ideas to reclaim unused interstitial spaces, a revitalization of a creek walk in town, and the creation of a potential sculpture garden.

Students walked the jury through well-defined 3D models of their projects, elaborating on their proposals. I was interested to see that the class developed their proposals in pairs – one student of architecture, and one of interior design. The resulting projects showed a holistic approach where finishes, textures, colors, etc., were taken into account to enrich the project. And of course, collaboration is a key part of professional practice for students to develop while in school.

After being in reviews for 8 hours, I was ready to take a break and catch up with my former professors over a celebratory dinner. It was such a clear confirmation of how far I have travelled on my professional path, finally meeting my professors eye-to-eye as adults. My experience as a jury member at Fay Jones was a great reminder of the creativity, passion, and commitment that is required to make this world a better place through design.

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