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PSU Architecture students receive 2016 AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Student Design Awards
Author: Karen O'Donnell Stein
Posted: December 21, 2016

The work of six PSU Master of Architecture students was recognized at the 2016 AIA Northwest and Pacific Region Student Design Awards (AIA NW+PR) this fall.

At the November 5 awards ceremony held in Fairbanks, Alaska, Nicolas Pectol (Master of Architecture '16) earned the Honor Award for his "Vanport Necropolis" thesis project. Andrew Matia (B.S. Architecture ’16) was awarded a Citation award for his project, “Weave PDX.” Master of Architecture candidates Janna Ferguson, Peter Heibel, and Alejandra Ruiz received an Honorable Mention for their project "Opportunity Knocks," and Master of Architecture alumnus Matthew Rusnac (’16) received an Honorable Mention for his thesis project, “Dwelling in Wanderlust.”

PSU Architecture students have won honors in the AIA NW+PR Awards every year since their inception. 

The winning entries are described below:

Vanport Necropolis, the Master of Architecture thesis of Nicolas Pectol, explores the ways in which architecture responds to rituals of human death. In 1948, the city of Vanport, Ore., to the north of Portland, was destroyed in a catastrophic flood that resulted in the loss of at least 15 individuals and the eradication of the city itself. Pectol designed a funeral procession and burial ritual to honor those who died in the flood and provide them, and their city, a proper burial. Embracing the theme of naval shipbuilding, an industry that played an integral role in the economic and social life of this ethnically diverse community, Pectol’s design incorporates the waters of the nearby Columbia River Slough as well as thematic elements including ferries, canals, locks, scaffolding, steel tracks, casters, and cranes. The result is an imagined sacred ritual and monumental structure to honor and remember this fallen city.

Weave PDX was created by architecture major Andrew Matia in a senior design studio, in which Matia took the typical spatial arrangement of alternating alleyways and structures in a city block and redistributed the masses into a woven composition, based on his research into the history of textile production and industry techniques. “The resultant development creates moments of orientation and mystery, aligning itself to the city block but also deviating from moment to moment,” Matia writes about his project.

Opportunity Knocks is a proposal for a community of tiny homes constructed from reused dimensional lumber and doors, salvaged from deconstructed, rather than demolished, structures. Janna Ferguson, Peter Heibel, and Alejandra Ruiz designed a modular system using these two materials that can be affordably prefabricated through a partnership with a local architectural salvage center, and using a central community space (in this case, a shuttered elementary school) as a construction site. This concept, which grew out of a Master of Architecture design studio at Portland State University, addressed the construction-waste stream in Portland and included a research trip to Monterrey, Mexico, to learn from Professor Pedro Pacheco at the Instituto Tecnologicol y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM). Pacheco is now spending his sabbatical year working with students in PSU’s Center for Public Interest Design, within the School of Architecture, and is the School’s 2017 Distinguished Visiting Professor.

Dwelling in Wanderlust, Matthew Rusnac

Dwelling in Wanderlust: Architecture as a Vessel for Human Stories is the M.Arch thesis of Matthew Rusnac (’16), in which he asked the question “How can a story-driven architecture—confident in the cosmos—fortify a person’s sense of humanity, identity, and community in an objectifying, disorienting, and isolating age?” His response was rooted in telling the stories of several archetypes and expressing their habitats through word, drawing, and three-dimensional artifacts and models.