California College of the Arts challenges architecture students to shatter boundaries, defy norms, and envision a better future for the common good. Interdisciplinary by nature, CCA Architecture projects are often experimental and go on to win major awards. This year was no exception as four CCA architecture students were announced to the coveted 2023 Metropolis Future 100 list, designed to designate the top graduating architecture and interior design students. Nominated by their instructors to compete for this top honor, these students are testing new ideas and exploring the future of architecture.
Two undergraduate and two graduate students harnessed a free exchange of ideas about how our buildings, cities, and planet could look by leveraging CCA as a laboratory where ideas are tested. Our metropolitan setting in San Francisco informs the educational experience and functions as an urban laboratory, inspiring new ways to configure and inhabit architecture. Throughout their studies, students are encouraged to collaborate within and across disciplines to take full advantage of CCA's studio culture.
Graduate students push conceptual and material boundaries
Chair of Graduate Architecture Brian Price nominated two graduate students: Martin Hitch (MArch Architecture 2023) for uniquely understanding the capacity of design to be a cooperative endeavor between design and the environment works are situated in, and Lizzy Wilson (MArch Architecture 2023) for exposing societal contradictions while proposing optimistic ways to live with unresolved situations.
“I think of my design portfolio as conceptual and theoretical, and I am really interested in working on projects that analyze or critique our society,” Lizzy says. “For example, I am currently working on a project to redesign an abortion clinic. When Roe v. Wade got overturned last summer, I was researching gender and architecture, how the profession has been mostly white and male, and the kind of biases that have seeped into how we design our world.”
“How can you design a space that’s not shameful?” asks Lizzy, “Currently, abortion clinics are designed in a way that emphasizes shame. They’re heavily guarded. There's no natural light. And in states like Texas before Roe v. Wade was overturned, they were required to make them feel austere and kind of traumatic places to enter.”
Martin is also pushing the boundaries of architecture and thinking about how people move through and use space by innovatively exploring the potential of materials such as concrete. He says, “I’ve been looking at ways that concrete can be used in alternative formworks and casting methods that emphasize the liquid nature of the concrete, while also thinking about the whole life cycle of concrete as well as looking at alternative mixtures with concrete.”
“I feel like in all of my work, I’m thinking about the act of construction and how it has these implications on the way that people inhabit those constructed spaces,” he adds. “And so much of my work has now taken on the form of these full-scale material experiments.”
“Architecture feels like it has a soul,” says Lizzy. “So it’s important for architects to be making things because it changes how you approach design. Being in an art school, you take courses in ceramics, sculpture, fashion and textiles. The arts can influence architectural work, especially in a unique setting like CCA. The arts influence design. Here there is a freedom to go outside the lines. CCA faculty inspire students with the idea that we don’t have just one answer to what architecture can be.”
Undergraduates reimagine construction and design
Associate Professor and Chair Antje Steinmuller nominated undergraduate student Alden Gendreau (BArch Architecture 2023) for combining urban ecological and social concepts with elegant formal approaches. Associate Professor Janette Kim nominated undergraduate student Rizwana Lubis (BArch Architecture 2023) for her form-making that transgresses boundaries, relating soil, water and social life in powerful and inventive ways.
“What does it mean to create a building? I am interested in projects that are more expressive and focus on this question,” says Rizwana.
Alden says, “I’m excited by environmentally sustainable projects that are centered in urban living, working with community members, and collecting feedback with what is needed within communities.”
“We already have a lot built in the environment, and I think we can use adaptive reuse and historical preservation in preserving and reinventing spaces,” he adds. “We have spaces that are hungry to be adapted and thought of in new ways. There is both physical and non-physical storytelling about how people are living or interacting with space. I don’t think architects should be stuck at their desks. At CCA, we learned a breadth of skills that enable us to draw beyond our desks and truly start to shape the world.”
Rizwana recognizes that architecture is a profession with multiple inherent challenges. “In this industry, we take a lot of risks because we have to iterate new ideas all of the time,” she says.
Alden is aware that there are many aspects to working on solutions to issues faced in the industry. “Being able to see how things can interlock and exchange with one another in order to create dialogue is key,” he says.
Congratulations to our Metropolis Future 100 award winners. Celebrating the next generation of designers ensures the success of the industry, as together, we continue to meet the future’s challenges with creativity, innovation, and vision.
Published on Thursday, May 25, 2023