2014 Laskey Design Challenge

In January, 2014, rofessor Ted Krueger of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute led the 2014 Laskey Sophomore Design Challenge at Washington University in St. Louis. Professor Krueger’s challenge to the students was issued on a Friday afternoon, with solutions to be turned in by Sunday at noon. Dr. Krueger spent that chilly January weekend working with nine randomly created teams of sophomore students in the College of Architecture, taking them through an ambitious project which stressed craft, scale, materials and joinery – as well as collaboration, time management and partnership.

The approach they were to take required new ways of thinking and sensing. At the end of the weekend, a jury led by Dr. Krueger and comprising architecture faculty and Studio L board members, awarded a $1500 cash First Prize and two Honorable Mentions.

A book documenting the 2014 Laskey Design Challenge is available on Lulu.com.

An excerpt from Professor Krueger’s challenge to the students, titled “From De-Material to Material:”

Over the course of the next few days, you’re offered an opportunity to see differently; to see with your mind rather than with your eyes, to discover new things about the environment you inhabit, and to share that discovery with the School. You are asked to perceive an invisible architecture within the architecture you normally see, to devise a way to build it, and to communicate your discoveries in the form of a three-dimensional construction. Therefore the project has three phases: perception, transduction, construction. Each one is an opportunity to strengthen and develop skills that are valuable to an architect. The design problem is intended to foster an ability to perceive beyond the surface and beyond objects; to become aware of non-visual and not visible aspects of the environment. Our culture is a visually-dominated one, and as the anthropologist Stephen Tyler notes, this has led to a privileging of the object over process, the static over the dynamic, and being over becoming. Architects as a group are especially visual, and architecture is closely identified with its status as an object. But it is far more than that….”

Cloud Mountains was awarded first prize by a jury comprised of architecture college faculty and board members of Studio L. The 2014 Laskey Fellows are seen here with charrette moderator Ted Krueger. From left to right, the fellows are Olivia Bolton, Benjamin Aiken and Guangdi Yao.