Architecture student awarded in the Gensler 2018 Diversity Scholarship program

Amazon Public Factory by Michel Al Najm
Amazon Public Factory by Michel Al Najm

Architecture graduate student Michel Al Najm was selected as a finalist and has received Honorable Mention in the Gensler 2018 Diversity Scholarship program.

Gensler is a global architecture, design, and planning firm. The Gensler Diversity Scholarship is a juried program that recognizes emerging talent among college architecture and design students from underrepresented or minority communities. Applicants must be enrolled in accredited architecture programs. The jury, which is composed of global design leaders across Gensler, selects finalists from applications across the nation. Finalists and winners are selected based on academic excellence, design ability, and presentation creativity.

The Process

Michel Al Najm was selected as a finalist based on the jury’s review of his application and project, Amazon Public Factory. In the second round of the scholarship review process, finalists were invited to submit creative videos that explained their design process and their unique design point of view. After submitting the creative video in February, Al Najm was notified that he had received Honorable Mention and would be considered for a paid summer internship position in one of Gensler’s regional offices.

Al Najm interviewed and accepted an internship in Gensler’s Detroit office where he will work this summer before returning to Miami University to complete the final year of the Master of Architecture program. Sam Coats, an Associate with Gensler Research Institute, said about Al Najm, “We were also excited to have this opportunity to meet Michel and become familiar with his incredible design talent.”

The Project and the Alumni Traveling Studio

Originally from Syria, Al Najm studied architecture at Damascus University in Syria and at St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario before entering Miami University’s graduate architecture program in 2017.

Al Najm’s winning project was completed in the Alumni Traveling Studio, taught by Craig Hinrichs (Associate Professor, Architecture + Interior Design).

Each year the Alumni Traveling Studio travels to a different city to design a hypothetical project on an existing urban site with a complex program, which is co-authored by the faculty member and a local architect, who is an alumni member of the program. This year’s project, Amazon HQ2, was located in St. Louis and was comprised of residential, office, commercial and light manufacturing use groups.

Al Najm’s concept for his project was to transform the delivery drone manufacturing facility into a public cultural center. In his design, the process of manufacturing drones begins on the outside of the building and shapes the structure. Axial views and screened transparent facades “convert the traditional closed factory to a dynamic form that encourages people to discover it.”