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Students to present Gateway Project designs at public reception

Nearly 60 WSU School of Design and Construction students will present their concepts for redesigning the Gateway District, an area between the WSU Pullman campus and downtown Pullman, during a reception at 5 p.m., on Tuesday, Dec. 6, in the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center. 

The projects are part of the Gateway Studio class taught by Robert Krikac, Matthew Melcher, and Kate Kraszewski, professors in the School of Design and Construction. The senior-level interdisciplinary class is designed to explore the potential of the built environment while strengthening the connectivity between the WSU campus and downtown Pullman. With stakeholder input from the City of Pullman and WSU Pullman Chancellor Elizabeth Chilton, students are tasked with envisioning innovative solutions that address big problems and provide creative solutions towards a zero-carbon, equitable, resilient, economically, and socially vital and healthy built environment.

The studio strives to teach a holistic understanding of the interaction between built and natural environments. It also focuses on designing environments to mitigate climate change by leveraging ecological, advanced performance, adaption, and resilience principles. Students from architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design were assigned to teams of 5-7 students. For many, this course is the first experience of working on an interdisciplinary team, requiring each student to look at the same challenge and design a solution with both their individual and collective disciplines in mind.

“We’re bringing in these different disciplines to provide an understanding of what it’s like to work in an interdisciplinary team,” said Krikac. “We want to teach students that these disciplines are intertwined so that when they get jobs after graduation, they are prepared to work on teams that include areas of design beyond their own concentrated area.”

The teams created a concept to redesign an area on the western edge of campus. This area extends from Spokane Street to Grand Avenue, along the South Fork of the Palouse River, and includes downtown Pullman. Along with the design element of the project, students were tasked with learning about the Pullman and WSU communities. 

“We asked our students to learn about the city of Pullman and about the university to identify opportunities, constraints, and needs while considering social, ecological, and economic dimensions,” said Melcher.

During the first half of the semester, each team created a master plan to redesign the Gateway District. To facilitate effective collaboration, a personality traits test was given to each team member to provide insight into how their personality traits interact with other members of their team. Guest speakers were also invited to present on the nature of collaboration in the design world. Additionally, students were assigned case studies showcasing designs that combined architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design together to successfully solve a challenge in the environment.

“Each team member then identified the strengths and weaknesses in their projects. The peer-to-peer feedback was valuable both to the individual student and to their team’s design,” said Kraszewski.

During the second half of the semester, each team member focused on their individual part of the project while still collaborating with their team to carry out the master plan. 

“This studio class is a unique opportunity where students can start to make the connection between all the aspects of design while taking what they learned in their coursework and applying it to a real-world project,” said Melcher. “It also allows students to understand why collaboration is important in design, while also allowing them to tackle the challenge from their own disciplinary perspective.”

Students will present their final group and individual projects to the WSU and Pullman communities during the reception. The reception is free and open to the public.

“The reception will celebrate students’ achievements on the project and provide a chance for our students to get feedback to help them learn and grow as they continue on in their academic courses,” said Krikac. “Additionally, it also provides our students with experience presenting their work to stakeholders.”

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