The challenges of Colorado State University’s Fall 2020 semester have inspired students’ hard work and resilience amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Students in the Interior Architecture and Design program in the Department of Design and Merchandising were able to present their senior capstone projects through a virtual platform.
The IAD Senior Show, which would normally be held in person during graduation week, gives students an opportunity to showcase their hard work and design projects to friends, family, and colleagues. The students’ capstone projects consists of renderings, floorplans, and a description of their design in an 80,000-100,000 square foot area. Students also had to incorporate social and cultural issues in their designs.
Virtual Senior Show
A team of three students who are part of the student organizations for the program, took a lead role in organizing the Senior Show. Morgan Sehi, Saige Pedigo, and Julianna Brown collected and organized the project materials for the virtual show and made sure they met electronic accessibility guidelines under the supervision of Jain Kwon, assistant professor in the Department of Design and Merchandising.
Pedigo said that she has been able to learn about the behind-the-scenes process being a part of the team.
“There is so much work that goes into reviewing students’ projects, developing the show, and making sure that we are ready as a program to highlight our seniors,” said Pedigo.
Because of a curriculum shift in the major, this is the final semester for some of the seniors in the program, leading to an unusual occurrence of a fall Senior Show in addition to the usual spring event.
“I wanted to give all students an opportunity to celebrate their achievements with family and friends before they graduate,” said Kwon. “Hosting major exhibitions in two consecutive semesters takes much effort and time, but it is worth it.”
Student projects and learning remotely
The students produced their final projects as part of their senior capstone class for the interior architecture and design major. To help keep students and faculty healthy, lectures and lab time were held both in-person and online. Students were also able to access the software they needed in the computer labs remotely.
“Several students needed remote access accommodations due to various circumstances, and the students attending class in person were very understanding and supportive, so all students could collaborate with one another for class discussions and peer-critiques,” said Kwon.
Pedigo designed an elementary school for her capstone project. She was inspired to design a learning space that is accessible to all learners.
“I want students, of all ability levels, backgrounds, capacities to have equal opportunity to learn in a positive environment, so I took this project as an opportunity to create an accessible environment for young learners,” said Pedigo. “Faculty were very supportive of this design process. They allowed me to make creative choices and explore design decisions, but also challenged me to consider how I can make the design functional and realistic.”
After graduation, Pedigo plans to explore the design industry and the different avenues in the field.
“I truly hope to never stop growing as a designer and I can’t wait to begin this career journey,” she said.
Brown designed a community center for her hometown of Hayden, a small rural community in northwest Colorado. The town is currently developing this project with an architectural firm.
“It’s fun to pick the coolest technology, the prettiest finishes, and so on, but it was important to me to design my capstone as if this was the real project with a strict budget and real clients,” said Brown. “This experience has been enriching to learn from real stakeholders to design my project as true-to-life as possible.”
Next semester, Brown will be moving to Florida to complete her internship at an interior design studio in Sarasota.
“I feel very fortunate to be a part of the team putting together the Senior Show,” said Brown. “It’s a great deal of responsibility, and since this is virtual, we are doing our best to make sure our peers still get their time in the spotlight that they worked so hard for.”
Sehi’s capstone project design of a corporate headquarters for a non-profit was inspired by her concern for climate change and its impact on the global community. She is also pursuing a minor in global environmental sustainability, where she has learned about natural resources, conflict, and systems thinking.
“From this place of passion came my interest in creating a project that would evolve over time to address these increasingly large issues, such as climate migration, affordable housing, and resilient infrastructure,” she said. “The global pandemic strengthened the validity of my project and got me more excited to design a project that addressed issues like these.”
Sehi will graduate in Spring 2021 and is hoping to get in internship next semester in a firm that focuses on commercial projects, specifically workplace, retail, or community design.
“Overall, the process of capstone is stressful, intensive, and extremely rewarding. At the end of the semester, each student has something that they developed and brought to life entirely on their own.”
Arlee Walls contributed to this story.