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Morrisville State College Students Display Dramatic Architectural Room-Play Projects

MORRISVILLE, N.Y.— Jasmin Medina and her teammates spent a lot of time researching hurricanes before they completed their class project.

As it hung from the ceiling, their architectural masterpiece, Hurricane Aftermath, defined by plastic walls, seemed simple in design, but packed a powerful meaning.

The project was one of four created by teams of Morrisville State College students in the Architectural Studies and Design and Landscape Architectural Studies programs, as a final class project, titled Room-Play, for their Architectural Design I Class. Each was a full-scale model of a vernacular place for seclusion for one person, containing a sequence of three defined spaces that represent a meditation state.

The students employed tinted lights and images to evoke emotions from viewers and heighten the drama of their projects, which were constructed in the Architectural Studies and Design Studio Complex.

“We learned about hurricanes—how there is contemplation when the storm is developing then we selected colors to portray each space,” Medina, of Manhattan, N.Y., a first-year student in the Architectural Studies and Design program, said.

The three spaces inside their contemplative environment represented the calm before the storm, the eye of the storm, and the aftermath of the storm. The first space in their project was illuminated in blue representing peace and calm before the storm, while their second space was purple, depicting meditation. A fiery red tone conveyed the aftermath and destruction of the storm in their final space.

Students in several of the groups incorporated sound tracks, a movie, photographs, and other elements to intensify the experience of moving through the succession of spaces they created. Medina and her teammates used a blowing fan and projected recordings of rain and wind.

“When you entered their project, you had the sensation that a storm was coming,” Dr. Anne Englot, associate professor of Architectural Studies and Design, said. “It was very emotional and powerful.”

Room-Play is an example of what is known as full-scale modeling, where students first model a design at a small scale and then create a mock-up of the spaces at full or human scale.

“The materials used are nothing more than common plastic sheeting, wood sticks, string, and clamps,” Kurt Ofer, AIA, adjunct professor and originator of the Room-Play concept, said. “Yet, the students showed enormous creativity as they transformed their ideas into works of art.”

Schools that offer full-scale modeling include Vienna University of Technology, Austria, Universidad Central de Venezuala, Caracas, and University of Lund, Sweden.

“Full-scale modeling as an architectural design tool is really a nascent medium, and it is wonderful for the Morrisville students to have this experience; this is cutting edge.” Ofer said. “Hopefully, students now have an inkling of the link between the lines that they put on paper and the spatial experience.”

Lavon Prescott, of Morrisville, an Architectural Studies and Design major, was part of a team that worked on The Kite House, designed by Jon King, a Cazenovia resident and Architectural Studies and Design major. Prescott said their project represented the experience of putting one’s self in a box kite, creating a feeling of a kite floating and soaring.

Room-Play enabled students to apply what they had learned in class, including understanding design as a process and the placement of planes to design spaces and place.

“As we were going through the process of creating our project, we realized what it is to define a space,” Prescott said.

Students who participated were: (LA notes Landscape Architectural Studies students. ARCH notes Architectural Studies and Design students)

Competition Winner Lead Designer -
T. Oliver McAbee, LA Tully, NY

Team Members:
Christopher Kulak, LA Scotia, NY
Andrew Dillman, ARCH Rome, NY
Michael “Cosmo” Pascuzzi, ARCH Waterford, NY
Cory Davies, ARCH Mohegan Lake, NY
Jackilyn Winchell, LA Fort Ann, NY
Jermecia Paylor, LA Brooklyn, NY

Competition Winner Lead Designer -
Jasmin Medina, ARCH Manhattan, NY

Team Members:
Bijan Dendtler-Clark, LA Brooklyn, NY
Austin Kron, LA Alpine, NY
Chantay Kelly, ARCH Mt. Vernon, NY
Mark Hanna, LA Clinton, NY
Ryan Himmelreich, ARCH Stuyvesant, NY
Chris DeCoursey, ARCH East Syracuse, NY

Competition Winner Lead Designer -
Brian Butcher, LA Guilford, NY

Team Members:
Matt Faffley, LA Rome, NY
Matt Swendsen, ARCH Cochecton, NY
Nick George, LA Utica, New York
Rachellé Gillis, ARCH Hudson, NY
Jordan Claus, LA St. Johnsville, NY

Competition Winner Lead Designer -
Jon King, ARCH Cazenovia, NY

Team Members:
Andrew Elsmore, LA Scituate, Massachusetts
Gary Colman, LA Croton on Hudson, NY
Lavon Prescott, ARCH Morrisville, NY
Casey Marino, LA Marion, NY
James Mulrain, ARCH Lockport, NY
Jack Gunio, ARCH Walworth, NY

Morrisville State College offers more than 75 bachelor and associate degrees and options with eight new degrees being offered this fall: entrepreneurship and small business management, B.B.A.; nursing, B.S.; science, technology, and society, B.S.; journalism and communication for online media, B.S.; horticulture business management, B.T.; human performance and health promotion, B.S.; criminal justice, A.A.S. (Norwich Campus only); and human services, A.A.S. (Norwich Campus only).

Considered to be one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the nation for its ThinkPad University program and wireless technology initiative, the college recently became the first in the nation to comprehensively replace landlines in residence halls with individual cellular phones. Morrisville State College was also chosen as one of the top five colleges in the nation for campus activities by Campus Activities magazine.

The Morrisville State College Norwich Campus offers associate degree programs in accounting, business, computer systems technology, office administration, liberal arts transfer, nursing, early childhood, criminal justice and human services to south central New York residents and employers. Students may also apply coursework to other associate or bachelor degrees at the main campus.