One of my best decisions in college was choosing a concentration for my major. Within civil engineering, there are a lot of different concentrations: water resources, structural, construction, etc. My concentration is called Building Science, which combines both structural engineering and architecture. Building Science students take almost all of the same classes as all the other civil engineers, except starting sophomore year we take a studio class in the architecture school. A studio class is a small sized class where students receive hands on instruction in architectural design. There are eight building science majors in my year so we have a very small, tight-knit studio class.

Building Science:  Class of 2016!

Building Science: Class of 2016!

The two sophomore semester studio classes focus on an introduction to architecture and learning about the fundamental design principles. Throughout last year we were assigned different projects that each taught a different component of architectural design, like ordering principles, figure vs. ground, material studies, and structural properties.

One of our projects first semester was to create the tallest standing paper tower, using only folding and no glue or tape. This project helped us learn about unity and order, as well as beauty through a singular vision in concept and detail. I chose to take a simple cube with a corner and stack them on top of each other. The taller my tower got, the more columns of cubes I added so that the columns could lean against each other for support. My final tower ended up being 6 ft. tall, taller than me! If I had more time I think I could have made my tower even taller, since it was already extremely steady at 6 ft.

Me standing next to my tower - I'm 5'4!

Me standing next to my tower – I’m 5’4!

Another project from first semester was to create a cardboard chair that could hold 150 lbs. minimum. This project focused on ergonomic properties as well as connection details since once again we weren’t allowed to use glue or tape. For my chair I decided to combine two opposing forms: orthogonals and curves. This resulted in a orthogonal base with a delicate curve draped over the top. After the project I took my chair home, and now it is a piece of furniture in my apartment!

Enjoying a seat on my cardboard chair!

Enjoying a seat on my cardboard chair!

For second semester, our projects applied the principles we learned first semester into more real life applications. One of our projects was to make an “artist’s retreat”, basically a townhome where an artist can practice their craft. I chose a fashion designer, and focused on the idea of work vs. display, as fashion requires both. At the end, our class put all our townhomes together and made a complete neighborhood.

Our neighborhood of artist retreats!

Our neighborhood of artist’s retreats!

Although building science is a lot of work, I love getting a break from my engineering classes and getting to tap into my creative side. My first year in studio was  great, and can’t wait for my studio classes as a junior. Feel free to ask me any questions about Building Science, or any of the other civil engineering concentrations. Fight on!

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Civil Engineering, Class of 2016, Learn more on her profile here!