Monday, June 20, 2011


At every school of architecture, students are offered an ultimate test, an opportunity to show that they have assimilated the teachings of their faculty, synthesized the curricula, and are able to produce a competent architectural project. At the UA School of Architecture, the opportunity for a student to demonstrate worthiness to become an Architect is the Capstone: the final project in the five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree. Over two semesters, students are asked to envision an issue, take a stand, and figure out how design can make a difference.

In the capstone review, each student makes a presentation of his/her project for review by UA School of Architecture professors, industry professionals, and members of the local community associated with the projects.

Andrea Young, a second-year student in the five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree program took on the design of a Reggio Emilia elementary school for her second-year project.


ANDREA YOUNG: This is my third project, a preschool. Each student was assigned to one of two studios. One studio had a Montessori school and the other, a Reggio Emilia school. My studio has the Reggio Emilia school.

We visited a Reggio Emilia-inspired school in Tucson, the Second Street School. Each student got to choose their own site—a site along Tucson's Rillito River wash. I chose a site at Cholla Blvd and the Rillito River wash.

Reggio Emilia values an open environment for the teachers and the kids. At the site I chose there was a city park, an industrial development and a neighborhood close by. Looking at the buildable area, I got a strong sense of community with the park and the neighborhood. There's a smaller wash feeding into the Rillito with a good deal of vegetation.

Reggio Emilia values the environment and so the environment is the third teacher. Teachers and parents are the first two. Having the site framed by the community and environment was why I chose that particular one.

UACALA: What was it like going through the capstone review?

AY: I'm not nervous about the presentation—it's the critique. I had some judges on my review board who were past professors, a teacher from a Reggio Emilia-inspired school, practicing architects as guest reviewers, and the director of the School of Architecture. I had him for both of my reviews.

The feedback was good. This project wasn't fully developed because I had restarted after the interim, the halfway point in the project where you pin up your process work. You take that critique at the interim and move on with it. Depending on how far you are along with your interim, that determines how much and what kind of feedback you get at that time.

You move forward with that review to take that project to the next level before you produce your drawings for the final capstone review.

UACALA: Where do you take the review's critique and feedback from here?

AY: Projects are never done, they tell you that! Over the summer, I'll take the feedback from the final review and rework it for my portfolio to have a stronger project to show for internships and to firms for jobs.

This is a five-year professional program that I'm in. All students go through the first year (Foundation Studio/Pre-Architecture) and then must apply to get into the program. I applied and got in.

UACALA: What's in store for you next year?

AY: Land Ethics Studio—how to understand the site, respect the site and value the land you are building on. Spring is Tectonics Studio—the interworking of pieces to create a lightweight design.

UACALA: Why did you choose architecture as a degree program?

AY: I've always been interested in design. I'm a creative person and as a child I loved designing and building things. I've always been good at math and science and interested in how things go together. I wasn't even sure I was right for this until last semester, and now I'm very intentional about my learning and the avenues of study. With this major, you can find your passion within the different facets of architecture, whether it be the design, the construction. This year has been a learning process of how I work and the value of the major. It's a lot of absorbing all the information that I can.