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Pillars Scholarships Awarded for 2023!

Four students received scholarships to allow them to pursue educational enhancement activities over summer 2023.

Bobby Dirkmaat is an M.Arch 4+3 student starting his last year. He will research human-centered design methods in order to understand the discrepancies between human-centered design thinking and the prevalent market-driven design thinking and investor-driven design thinking. As part of this research, Bobby will examine historic and contemporary examples of homes around the world, collect and analyze data, travel, and speak with residents of the projects researched. Bobby plans to synthesize his findings and propose a prototype that would be "the basis for future iterations of design in an attempt to create homes and communities that will help people be better and happier and live in greater harmony with one another".


Shonali Fuchs is an M.Arch 4+3 student starting her last year. She will travel through Central America visiting museums and notable architecture, deepening her understanding of construction methods and design philosophies. Shonali will gather inspiration for her thesis project through this research and she notes that each of the countries she plans to visit offer "unique insights into indigenous, colonial, and contemporary influences, allowing [her] to understand their architectural traditions, materials, and design philosophies.


Rex Thompson is a B.Arch student starting his fourth year. He began thinking about the significance and impact something like a chair could have on a space when he designed and built one for his studio desk. Rex notes that "classmates would come over and just hang out. The chair became a place to be, have conversations, and a new opportunity to make friends. It was an open invitation to something more." He plans to spend the summer designing and fabricating chairs and other furniture pieces that he hopes can become "a conversation starter, a gathering space, and a showcase". As part of this experience, he hopes to better "understand and form a connection with craft" through "building in the physical world outside of computer models and VR headsets".


Angelo Vera is a B.Arch student starting his fourth year. He will research urban design and planning issues and opportunities that "would eliminate the necessity of cars" in American cities and implement environmental and social change. Angelo grew up in New York and Philadelphia before moving to San Diego, and he plans to analyze and compare these cities and their dependence on private transportation with European cities including Paris, Barcelona, and Rome that have a different approach. He is interested in further understanding why "boulevards and green spaces are key components in European cities" and what the United States can implement in the future.


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