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What's Your Solution? #summerstudio13 Concludes

Image © Gensler

The #summerstudio13 program is up for a #SxSW Place by Design Award, and you can vote for 'Future Campus--#summerstudio13' here.

How can design improve on-campus life? From this simple question emerged a seven-week intensive design exploration between Barnard+Columbia Design for America and Gensler. Harnessing an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire for good design, four interdisciplinary teams made up of Gensler summer interns and DFA members, produced a diverse range of projects focused on community needs on college campuses and the development of scalable campus solutions.

Team One developed a template for a day long festival, entitled “UNI Festival,” that aims to bridge the town-gown divide facing urban schools across the country. Free to the public, the festival would include activities, food trucks, and cultural events, fusing energies both inside and outside of campus walls to create a day of communal learning and play. Identifying a lack of public social space on campus, Team Two’s project, “The Shack,” provides students with an outdoor, communal and storage space that facilitates recreational activity through rentable equipment. Paired with a mobile app, “The Shack” caters to students needs, transforming from a presentation space to an outdoor barbeque. “Sensecape,” Team Three’s response to reducing stress on campuses, is a collapsible structure that utilizes sensory stimulation to create a playful moment of respite for students. Versatile in its design, Sensecape has the potential to replace perceptions of a stressful environment with an exciting, playful, and encouraging one. Seeking to foster community, Team Four’s “Scribble Matrix,” a network of interactive, digital bulletin boards, unites individuals through its multi-faceted interface, which allows for ultimate flexibility and sharing of community projects and ideas. Serving at the epicenter of community projects, the cube-like, human-sized structures have the power to transform community engagement, uniting campuses across the nation.

After weeks of investigation, ideation, and innovation, #summerstudio13 culminated in a final presentation to a panel of Columbia and Barnard administrators and faculty, including Director of Communications and Special Projects Student Affairs, Katherine Cutler and Associate Director of Community Outreach and Education, Schawannah Wright. “The presentations were top notch -- the teams approached the project with a 360 degree viewpoint which produced well-considered and fresh concepts. We hope to push these ideas to reality,” said Maddy Burke-Vigeland, Gensler Principal and Education and Culture Practice Area Leader.

Summer studio was a learning and research experience for both Gensler and DFA. DFA members from various backgrounds and fields of study were able to collaborate with Gensler interns and designers to create vibrant design environments. Ideas were exchanged, norms were challenged, and inventions were created. The interdisciplinary team environment allowed for creative as well as personal relationships to be fostered—participants were able to take ownership of their projects and develop design solutions with great potential for implementation.

The collaboration between Gensler and DFA set a new paradigm for urban design ideas. Having completed one program successfully, we’re looking to amplify our vision, and make a stronger impact in years to come.

Andrew J. Demas is a junior at Columbia University majoring in Financial Economics with a concentration in History and Theory of Architecture. He has been interning at UBS in Wealth Management for a year, is President of Barnard-Columbia Design for America (DFA), and serves as a member of the Adobe Student Advisory Board.
Eric Tan one of Curbed Magazine’s ‘Young Guns 2013,’ is committed to developing innovative, socially responsible, and sustainable design solutions for a rapidly growing world with diminishing resources. Contact Eric at eric_tan@gensler.com.

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