News from Montgomery College

900 Hungerford Drive, Suite 200, Rockville, MD 20850 

Date: January 3, 2003 (03-02)
Contact: Dave Willingham, 240-567-7970; Pager: 301-930-0972
               Steve Simon, 240-567-7952

Montgomery College Architectural Students Design
‘Place of Peace’ for Glory, Awards, and Experience

Montgomery College has announced the winners of its fourth annual student architectural design competition sponsored in association with Torti Gallas and Partners, the county’s  largest architectural firm.

            For the second year in a row, Cesar Ramos captured first place honors.  Melanie Schultz came in second and Anh Vu took third.  All three students major in architectural technology at the College’s Rockville Campus and received prizes ranging from $100 to $250.

            At a recent awards ceremony at Torti Gallas in Silver Spring, the students shared their ideas about what constitutes “a place of peace” with members of the architectural firm.  According to Randy Steiner, faculty advisor of the Architectural Student Club and head of the College’s architectural technology program, it was a reflective hour during which students discussed how to create moments of silence, spaces of tranquility, and use materials that promote a sense of serenity. 

The annual student design competition began in 1999 when Steiner became exasperated that her community college students were excluded from architectural design competitions because they were not “third year students in accredited four-year institutions.”  She developed a design program, established a competition, and searched for a sponsor to provide prize money.

Steiner enlisted the support of the award-winning architectural firm, Torti Gallas and Partners, whose projects include the College’s Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center, the master plan of King Farm in Rockville, the new Silver Spring Metro Transit Center, and the neighborhood design of Celebration, Florida.

            Initially, Steiner thought about a monument to 9/11 for this competition, but after the Washington area’s sniper crisis in October, she decided to shift simply to a theme of peace.

Steiner’s concept, a “Place of Peace,” envisioned a hypothetical structure built beside the Rockville Campus duck pond, for small gatherings of students.  The structure was to provide a quiet space where groups of students could meet to work on resolving conflicts and share cultural ideas, art, and good times.  Each design was required to include a map of the world or a globe.  The students had to consider such needs as acoustics, lighting, and alternate energy sources as well as accessibility for the disabled.

The students had only six weeks to prepare their designs and create a model, site plan, floor plan, and written essay on their proposed projects. 

Steiner received more than 20 entries, ranging from a modest Native American structure to a monument symbolizing the ruins of past empires.  The jury of Torti Gallas architects complimented the entrants for their use of a theme in their designs, the quality of their drawings, and the variety of design solutions.  The winning designs, however, were selected because of their originality, execution, and sensitivity to the site.

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