Architecture students build on BGSU-city partnership

BOWLING GREEN, O.—The partnership between BGSU and the city of Bowling Green provided a real-world experience for students in the University’s Architecture and Environmental Design Department.

Recently, eight students in the Master of Architecture program presented rehabilitation-addition design plans for the city administration building to a review panel of architects and more than 20 city and University officials and community members. The presentations were part of the graduate-level design studio Arch 6210 — themed the Human Nexus — taught by Dr. Salim Elwazani.

According to Elwazani, students were asked to create an adaptive reuse design for the City Building at 304 N. Church St. under the course area History and Utility.  As part of the project, they were challenged to consider the historical structure, the functionality of the building and the needs of the users, in addition to the existing conditions of the site, the vicinity and the aesthetics of the space. Students endeavored to respond to human behavior, universal access, and social responsibility as holistic student performance criteria.

In addition to understanding the building’s history as a school and library before becoming the administrative services facility for the city in 1976, the students gathered information from city employees to assess the needs of the workers and the building’s visitors.

Facing space constraints and the need for additional parking, the students offered suggestions such as adding a parking garage and creating a new atrium. Some of the designs utilized light as much as possible. Joe Philips, whose design was titled “Luminous Embrace,” explained he was trying to “make it a new building but keep the old feel.”

Kristi Hafer’s “Urban Pull” design was lauded by some members of the review panel for her renderings.  She wanted to convey a “sense of belonging and purpose” in her designs, she said.

Other presenters and their projects included Stefany Risner, “Bridging the Past”; Timur Valiulin, “Reminiscing the Future”; Sean Bostater, “(Hi)Story of Recall”; James Wilson, “Communal Hub”; Shilpa Mehta, “Befriending the Times,” and Matt Zix, “Bi-Axial Restructuring.”

“The community focus and the participation of Mayor (Richard) Edwards and John Fawcett, municipal administrator, and other city representatives makes a difference for the students,” Elwazani said. “They learn the value of working with others and they gain confidence in making presentations,” which is an important part of an architect’s job.  Elwazani also praised the presence of Dr. Venu Dasigi, interim dean of the College of Technology, Architecture, and Applied Engineering, in the event as well as the participation of Dr. Alan Atalah, associate dean, and Dr. Wil Roudebush, interim chair of the department.

“We place prime significance on the role of review panels in vetting the relevance and quality of students learning,” Elwazani said. “Our program is fortunate to have such support from the members of the American Institute of Architects-Toledo Chapter and from design professionals in northwest Ohio.”

Along with University Architect Barbara Shergalis, member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the reviewers included Erin Curley, a BGSU alumna and LEED Green associate, associate AIA, RCM Architects, Findlay; Kevin Castelo, AIA, SSOE, Toledo; Dwight Gilliland, AIA, LEED AP, Architecture by Design, Sylvania; and Paul Hollenbeck, AIA, Toledo Design Center.