10 April 2017
By: Walt Cousineau
USC Architectural Guild Member
Congratulations to the 2017 USC Architectural Guild Haworth Charette Teams
The 2017 USC Architectural Guild Haworth Charette was held on April 1st this year, and was our most successful charette yet! With talented teams and an outstanding group of judges, our topic examined the growing issue of homelessness in Los Angeles drawing interest from a large cross section of the industry.
How Did the Haworth Charette Begin?
About six years ago I had a conversation with Dean Ma that focused on our students and how they are being prepared for the real world. Beyond Professional Practice courses and studio critiques, what mechanisms were in place at the school to help students prepare for client meetings and articulating a concept to others? Because the School of Architecture has worked diligently to diversify the student body, we thought additional presentation practice would especially benefit our foreign students.
The idea was simple: create a presentation competition wherein students would present their ideas to a client that would pass a “napkin sketch” test. Frequently, clients will explain a need, and you, as an architect, should be able to devise a solution, or a sketch on a napkin, that illustrates an understanding of the problem and a possible solution that addresses the problem.
The idea on the napkin must then be articulated to the client to prove the architect is listening and willing to collaborate with the client.
The Nuts & Bolts Of The Day
A generous donation and a continued partnership, Haworth is proud to sponsor this annual charette for the past 6 years. Teams of 2 or 3 students receive the problem at breakfast and they have 6 hours to think through the challenges, create a solution and produce drawings on a board by end of the day. The topics in the past have covered the future of educational delivery, with a traveling campus on a train, underwater and floating cities. Over the last few years the drawings were more computer based, however, this year we returned to hand drawing and with the renderings came an incredibly personal experience.
The judging panel reviews the drawing boards anonymously. The top 6 teams are chosen, and the afternoon is devoted to presentations of the finalists. The ideas the students invent are highly innovative and creative, but the ability to communicate the idea to the client is equally as important as the ability to draw and design it. After the jury deliberates on the presentations, the top three prize winners are announced followed by a reception to end the day.
I am always impressed by how creative the students are. Though these ideas will not be built, we expand the students’ visual and presentational vocabulary. They will be able to push a client’s creative boundaries in turn to something just outside their comfort zones, while remaining constructable.
Highlights From 2017
This years topic addressed homeless housing in downtown Los Angeles, a problem which has become an epidemic. Encampments are popping up in more and more areas from the Historic Core to tent cities along highway overpasses. Part of the solution to finding shelter for homeless people may exist in high rise parking structures that sit empty at night. If we re-purpose unused space during the evening, there are many possibilities to add utility to these structures. Our top three teams included:
1st Place- Untitled, by Blake Weber, Matthew Bianco-Splann and Chase Ashley
2nd Place- ArchDog by Kaiyu Xi, Tianlei Guo, Ye Yuan
3rd Place- The Three Stooges by Charlotte Garret, Sandra Gehring, Laura Gehring
Our jury panels are unsurpassed, and this year was no exception: Annie Chu, Michael Lehrer and Joey Shimoda and Michael Arnold joined us for the day. Our jury was expanded this year because the topic sparked quite a bit of interest in the industry. Our many thanks to Amy Pokawatana of Gensler, who did an exceptional job leading the committee this year.
Our first place winning team will join us at the USC Architectural Guild Annual dinner honoring Paul Williams. Additionally, the boards for first, second and third place will be on display that night at one of the largest industry networking events in Los Angeles.