Nels L.EST|m (Sept 2014)
Hometown: Starkville, MS
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What is it about architecture that drives you?
As architects and designers we have the unique ability to envision our future environment and create it. Architecture is an interesting field in that it borrows nearly everything from another discipline. We borrow our theory from philosophers, our tools from artists and filmmakers and our science from engineers. Today however, we are reaching a point in our discipline where we are developing faster than our borrowing can support. This is opening the door for architects to imagine new tools and environments with which to produce work. It is very exciting to be part of this paradigm shift and work towards the development of a new architecture for a new world.
Why did you choose to attend SCI-Arc?
With a professional bachelor’s degree, when I was looking for a master’s program I wanted a place that would provide me with both the freedom and the resources to explore my vision for the future of our profession while still challenging me technologically and formally. Coming from a very pragmatic and traditional undergraduate degree, SCI-Arc provides me with the other end of the spectrum allowing me to experiment and explore the virtual, more fantastical side of architecture.
What are the strengths of SCI-Arc’s curriculum?
Throughout history, every so many years a new tool comes along which changes the way architects work. Today there are several competing for this title and at SCI-Arc we have access to all of them. From robotics technology to virtual reality the curriculum of the EST|m program allows students to pursue their interests in these technologies. I was frustrated in the beginning because I felt that the first semester was too formally oriented but I found that by voicing my concerns and outlining a specific plan for my desires out of the program that the proper doors were opened for me to pursue these desires.
What are the defining or unique characteristics of SCI-Arc students?
Every program has students who are there because they were encouraged to by their parents or because they liked the idea of working in that field but lack a passion for it. At SCI-Arc I have found this to be much less the case than anywhere else I have attended. The students here all seem to be incredibly passionate about architecture and design but also about culture and building the relationships that are necessary to challenge the status quo and initiate a new normal.
What is your favorite studio experience?
My favorite aspect of the studios at SCI-Arc is the shear breadth of opinions you will receive in your work. Whether it’s from your professor, classmates, or the odd guest lecturer that happens to walk up to your desk and ask what you are working on, SCI-Arc never seems to disappoint when it comes to surprising me with who I’m talking to about my work.
Have you been involved in projects outside of the required coursework?
I have been fortunate enough to be the first student in a number of years to be giving a directed independent study with a faculty member of my choosing. This came about because of a specific research direction I intended to pursue during my program. I am working under Michael Rotondi to develop a project that looks at the virtual world of online gaming as it pertains to architectural design environments and how the virtual world can blend with the physical world using architecture as a bridge to increase interdisciplinary collaboration, and mitigate environmental stress.
What are your plans upon graduation from SCI-Arc? How will your education at SCI-Arc help you achieve your goals in the future? I am preparing a business plan for a professional research laboratory I intend to present to a number of offices with the intent to embed my laboratory within an existing architectural office to streamline the workflow of research and innovation directly into a built environment. In this way the topics developed in this lab can be experienced by the general public rather than only being available to those also engaged in research or other academics. In many ways SCI-Arc already acts as such a laboratory. I am attempting to learn as much as possible from the running of this institution as well as making connections I hope will help me in the initiation of my professional goals.
"I think the most exciting thing about architecture is that it is extremely multifaceted—especially as an academic pursuit. It provides opportunities to explore both very broad territories and very specific niches in the same arena, all of which affect each other in some way." Read more >>
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"I am excited knowing a small school like SCI-Arc would give me the chance to build valuable relationships with both the students and faculty."
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"Architecture as a study and practice has a potential of changing cultural and traditional relationship with the society."
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