BAC NOMAS Goes to Atlanta :: Days 3 & 4

BAC NOMAS Goes to Atlanta :: Days 3 & 4
by Christopher McIntosh, Vice President, BAC NOMAS

Read about BAC NOMAS' Day 1 and Day 2 of the NOMA Conference.

Fridays during NOMA Conferences are usually reserved for great events and evening celebrations. However, when you’re a team trying to win a competition, it's all about business. Our Friday in Atlanta was spent preparing everything for Saturday’s intense Student Design Competition and making sure our game was tight. We started with an inspirational visit to th
e Ashby MARTA station site, which is the subject of the design competition. The goal of the competition is to design a transit village surrounding this existing station and to “build a community through the movement,” highlighting the neighborhood’s extensive Civil Rights Movement history.

The visit opened our eyes to just how pleasant and inviting this neighborhood really is. Clean streets, quaint single-family homes, and the meticulously kept Washington Park all highlight just how much potential the area has. Being able to place our design for the site within the actual context of the neighborhood was truly an invaluable experience. We all left the site with a feeling of peace with our design intent and determination to make our final push to win the competition.

We gathered the materials we needed to make the finishing touches to our model, mounted our boards, and turned in our final submission early Friday evening. It was great to get a first look at the other schools’ submissions, and do a little pre-judging of our own. Meeting some of the other participating student teams and getting kudos on our design work was also very rewarding for us. So as other students and conference attendees prepared for the evening’s events, we decided that our time would be better spent that night practicing our 5-minute presentation, making sure we represented ourselves and the BAC well on competition day.

Saturday morning arrived and our nerves and excitement were flowing. 16 teams from schools all over the nation were getting ready to have their work critiqued and analyzed by a prominent set of judges, including the incoming President of the AIA. This is the largest amount of entries for the NOMA Student Design Competition in six years. The pressure is mounting, but our confidence in our work never wavered. We learned we would be presenting third and joined the other participants in the competition hall.

It was showtime for us as we took the stage, set up our boards and model, and got ready to deliver our proposal. Months of research, intense design work, and very long hours were about to be summed up in five minutes. Our presentation flowed smoothly as each of us delivered our points beautifully and on time. The judges reacted with nearly unanimous praise for our ideas of incorporating economic activity, social awareness, and attention to detail. The judges loved our graphic presentation, praised our sustainable strategies, and gave us more ideas to potentially take the design further.

As we left the stage, an overwhelming feeling of relief and confidence came over us. Our extremely hard work was paying off, and we definitely felt like we were one of the strongest competitors. Our feelings were echoed by other students and attendees who approached us with congratulations and adulation for our performance. Schools with strong design reputations, such as Cornell, Syracuse, Auburn, Howard, etc., all came up to us wanting to meet us and praise our work. As the day went on, and the other schools presented, we always felt that we had as good a chance as anyone to bring the win home.

Saturday night at the NOMA Conference began with a pre-banquet mixer, where the student competing projects were on display for all to see. We met with many other influential designers, networked with other students, and congratulated everyone for a job well done earlier in the day. The anticipation was intense as the night went on. The awards banquet represents the end of the conference journey, where new board members are announced, competition winners are announced (both student and professional competitions), and the next year’s city makes a presentation. It was time for the big announcement, the winners of the student design competition...3rd Place goes to the BAC! We were extremely excited as we took the stage to be congratulated by the entire conference.

We came in to the competition knowing that we could potentially win.  We left with a feeling of pride that our team had come this far, worked this hard, and put our skills up to the test with the rest of the nation and came out with a third-place finish. With that, the 2011 NOMA Conference had come to a close, and it would be time to return to Boston with a victory for us and our school.

We know we could never have accomplished so much ourselves without the help and support of the BAC community. We want to thank Atelier and Student Development for their continuing support of BACNOMAS and our mission. We especially want to thank the numerous students, faculty and staff who offered their support, good luck wishes, and guidance as we made our way to Atlanta. We felt your presence with us in Atlanta, and we can’t wait to share our experiences with you. We feel as if this is the beginning of even bigger and better things to come for the BAC, and soon we will be the ones taking 1st place at upcoming NOMA competitions.

Thanks for taking the journey with us, and we hope to see you in Detroit for NOMA 2012!