A Montana State University architecture student’s design for an environmentally sustainable manufacturing facility was selected as one of the top 10 student designs in the country by one of the profession’s top professional groups.
Robin Wilder, a graduate student in MSU’s School of Architecture from Rockport, Maine, received the American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment’s Top Ten for Students award for his graduate design studio project, “Culture and Production of Home: Encouraging Sustainable Lifestyle Through Tiny Dwellings.”
Wilder designed the project for a theoretical manufacturing facility that produces prefabrications of tiny homes in two graduate courses taught by three MSU architecture professors: Steven Juroszek, Tom McNab and Jaya Mukhopadhyay. The School of Architecture is in the MSU College of Arts and Architecture.
The international competition received more than 600 submissions from 38 different universities. The contest, in partnership with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, challenged students to submit projects that considered natural systems and technology to find an architectural solution that would “protect and enhance the environment.” A judging committee recognized 10 projects that “seamlessly integrate innovative, regenerative strategies within their broader design concepts.”
Wilder’s project, which is posted online, was praised by jurors who said it rose to the top for its pragmatism and rational.
“The design is well-adapted for the cold, dry climate in Montana,” the jurors said in their written comments. “The student(s) integrated ventilation, light and air to optimize environmental benefits and create a pleasant environment. The project also addresses larger social issues affecting the region, such as affordable housing and employment.”
Wilder, who picked up the award recently at an AIA/ACSA conference in Orlando, Florida, said he was “blown away and humbled” when he learned he had won the recognition because many of the winning projects were designed by a group of students. He said that there was a contest on the same topic for professionals that paralleled the student competition. Wilder said he was inspired by seeing the other award winners and the designs that found creative solutions to growing populations.
He credits Juroszek and his other professors as well as the quality of the program at MSU for his success.
“MSU really prepared me for the competition,” said Wilder, who came to MSU because of the environment and the architecture program. “I like what Montana has to offer.”
While Montana’s environment and outdoor activities drew Wilder, he has become involved in a variety of activities at MSU. Wilder has studied abroad at the Danish Institute for International Studies program and conducts research in MSU’s Integrated Design Lab. Juroszek said that Wilder’s experiences have made him a “holistic and thoughtful designer.” Juroszek explained that Wilder’s ability to embrace the manufacturing process as a design component created “a wonderful aesthetic derived from the function, the environment and the educational components that form the heart of his design concept.”
“We are proud of the outstanding design that Robin produced — demonstrating innovative thinking about sustainable design within a challenging project type,” Juroszek said.
This summer Wilder plans to intern with JW Architects in Seattle. Julian Weber, principal of the firm, is an alumni of the MSU School of Architecture. When Wilder finishes his master’s program in architecture next May, he hopes to work full-time with an architectural firm in the Pacific Northwest. He said he believes MSU has also prepared him for that role.
“In terms of quality of work and rigor of the program, MSU is on par with the top (architectural school) programs,” he said. “It’s an incredible place to learn about architecture.”
Steven Juroszek (406) 994-3921, firstname.lastname@example.org