In a class of its own

Kansas City design professionals judge second-year architecture students’ projects

They won’t graduate for a few more years, but second-year architecture students in the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s (UMKC) Department of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design (AUPD) have already presented their work to a jury of Kansas City architecture and design leaders.

During the spring 2009 semester — as part of the Bud Persons Scholarship Competition — students toiled for hours on designs and models of museum additions to the UMKC Fine Arts Building. On the second floor of Epperson House, a tower of energy drinks decorated the mantle while one student slumbered on a cot and several others worked for hours on end.

“For the last three weeks before the professional critique, we hardly ever left — except to go home, shower, eat or go to other classes,” said Jonathan Phillips, a second-year architecture student and the winner of the 2009 Bud Persons Scholarship Competition. “But a lot of very knowledgeable people are judging this competition. Most architecture programs don’t get the opportunity to have a critique like this.”

Jonathan Phillips, 2009 Bud Persons Scholarship winner.

Jonathan Phillips, 2009 Bud Persons Scholarship winner.

Although they sacrificed sleep, these students have grown from the trials of professional design critiques, said Lauren Wendlandt, visiting instructor and architect. “It becomes a rite of passage. They hate it, but at the same time it makes them better professionals and students,” Wendlandt said. “All the jurors had really great comments and said they were so surprised at how advanced these students’ projects were.”

AUPD selected jury members to model how The American Institute of Architects would assemble a jury. The jury included Rachael Blackburn Cozad, director and chief executive officer of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art; Kathy Kelly, principal at Helix Architecture + Design; Scott Francis, a member of the Francis Family Foundation, member of the UMKC Department of Architecture, Urban Planning and Design Board of Directors and a member of the UMKC Board of Trustees; Richard Findley, architect and university instructor; and Bob Simmons, assistant vice chancellor of UMKC Campus Facilities.

AUPD thrives upon such collaborations with design professionals, and the department works constantly with the Kansas City community, said Ted Seligson, visiting professor and architect. In addition to working with the local community, AUPD coordinates with the Kansas State University College of Architecture, Planning and Design.

Once students complete two years at AUPD, they matriculate to K-State to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture, interior architecture/product design or landscape architecture.

Helix Architecture + Design created the $750 scholarship to honor the late Bud Persons, who served as a senior architect at Helix and taught architecture courses at UMKC. Persons’ family also contributed to the scholarship.

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