Shaping the Future with AIAOC Student Design Competition

IMG_7571As a student, if you could preview the workload and skills it takes to have success in your potential profession, would you take the opportunity? Nearly 50 projects from students at Orange Coast College and Saddleback College have been entered in the AIA Orange County’s (AIAOC) Student Design Competition.

Starting in 2014 LPA took on the sponsorship of this unique design competition, an open forum for students in community college architecture programs to experience a real-life professional environment while in their first few years of college. As sponsors through LPA Foundation, our firm support the students with scholarships, professional mentorship, hosts all design competition meetings, including the final jury process, and displaying all projects in our Irvine office coLAB.

IMG_5494Students are challenged to rationalize all the nuances of a built environment, from how all the details will fit into a building, to how the building fits into its immediate context and larger surroundings. From there, they develop concrete ideas that transform it into a building design. 

Participation in the competition gives students an chance to experience ownership over a project from beginning to end. It also gives them the opportunity to experience a professional practice environment. Being first- and second-year community college students, most of them are coming straight from high school, so it’s their first take on what the design profession is. Oftentimes architecture students don’t have such an opportunity until they’re halfway into their education and take on an internship. It’s valuable for them to see the whole of the profession from the very beginning of their careers. They also get to experience recognition from their peers and active professionals in the community.

IMG_7580For the final jury, we brought in an independent group of practicing architects and designers who are involved in academia. They came in with fresh eyes and the right perspective to recognize which entries had a high level of design sensibility and a complete package in terms of presentation, thoughtfulness about sustainability and a strong overall design. They narrowed down the potential winners to 20, and again to seven. Honor and merit award winners will be announced at the Annual AIAOC Design Awards on September 17, 2015.

Ultimately it’s about giving back to the future generations of our profession, which are the students that are in school right now. Our goal is for us to instill a passion and awareness about architecture and how fundamental sustainable design is to our future in these young minds. One day these people will be our peers and will be shaping the communities around us. From what we’ve seen, this is great news for our future local communities.

Ozzie Tapia is an associate at California-based LPA Inc. Ozzie designs sustainable higher education facilities and is a LEED Accredited Professional BD+C and active member of the U.S. Green Building Council and the AIA Orange County chapter.

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