AIAS NEQuad Fall Conference 2012 Recap

AIAS NEQuad Fall Conference 2012 Recap ::
Design Charrette and Portfolio Review
by Anna Mezheritskaya, B. Arch Candidate
+ AIASBAC BSA Student Liaison

The AIAS Northeast Quad Design Charrette was a four-hour workshop that focused on activating a historical neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey. This tied in with the topic of the conference – urban revitalization.

The site was an empty infill lot that the community wanted to use for events, such as concerts and farmers’ markets, and as a neighborhood gathering and bulleting area. The building materials for the site would be provided by local recycling and shipping companies, while the structure was to be designed for easy installation by community members.

The students were split into teams and spent an hour visiting and documenting the site. Then everyone headed to the New Jersey Institute of Technology campus for a brief presentation by the founders of Todo Design about their Manhattan project, First Street Green. The First Street Green project served as an example of infill site revitalization through community ownership and a participatory design process.

Given an hour to collaborate on production of plans, sections, and perspectives of their designs, the ten student teams immersed into the process, inspired by Fred Kent and Todo Design. Even though the Charrette judges chose only one winning team, the learning experience of designing in a group that you just met extended to all students that participated. This was an invaluable lesson in leadership, teamwork, problem solving and quick thinking.

After the Design Charrette, some students attended a Portfolio Review. This two-hour session featured seven practicing architects and professors from New Jersey, who were available to provide feedback and advice on students’ portfolios, resumes, and work samples.

The review process was fairly casual and while waiting for a meeting with a professional, students shared their work with one another. There was a range of experience and types of work discussed; some students were graduating and preparing for the job search, others for graduate school, and some were just starting their architectural education.

As someone currently looking for employment in an architectural firm, I asked for advice on my resume and work samples. The key recommendations were to keep the resume clean and clear with minimal design elements and to make sure the work samples include high-quality attention-grabbing images demonstrating the applicant’s skills with minimal text. Overall, this experience was very useful for the feedback provided, but also for the exposure to other students’ work and points of view."