The Architecture Traveling Studio program was started 27 years ago by Architecture and Interior Design Associate Professor Craig L. Hinrichs to provide students with the opportunity to connect with successful program alumni while applying their skills on a hypothetical project based on a real site.
According to Associate Professor Hinrichs, "The Alumni Traveling Studio is a unique teaching opportunity to connect with our professional Alumni as they co-teach this studio. Every year I write a different design brief, on a different site, in a different city with a different focus and a new studio cohort."
This year, five first-year Architecture graduate students have been working with Hinrichs and Miami University distinguished alumna Mary Shoufan.
Shoufan came to Miami as a graduate student from Damascus, Syria in 2015 during the Syrian war to build a career and better life. She is doing just that as an Architectural Designer at a top international architecture firm NBBJ after graduating from Miami University master’s program in 2018. As a previous student herself, Shoufan understands the value of this program, especially for international students. For this year’s project, Shoufan identified the site for the Boston-based high-rise biomedical mixed-use facility that the students work on for the fall semester.
“Traveling studio is a great platform that provides students with exposure to the profession and some insight of what to expect after graduation,” Shoufan explained. “It is a great tool to connect students with professionals, especially when the type of project aligns with the market needs, it sets the students up for success. In this program, half of the students are international and it is their first time experiencing how U.S. architectural firms operate.”
At the beginning of the semester—in September—students traveled to Boston to look at the site and work with Shoufan and the Boston studio design principal Jay Siebenmorgen on their designs and drawings. The students continued their work after returning to Oxford, designing their own individual project that considered a sustainable solution for a complex mixed-use program, relating it to the contextual fabric, as well as the zoning and building codes.
The students received further feedback from Shoufan when she visited campus in late October. While here, Shoufan presented a lecture titled “Overcoming Architecture” to an audience of faculty and students that discussed overcoming challenges in the profession and the path after graduation for young architects. On November 28, Shoufan returned to campus to provide students with final feedback. Each student presented their work, answered questions, and received feedback from Shoufan and others.
Due to the time and expertise Shoufan and others at NBBJ generously shared, graduate students are able to get real-world and impactful experience starting in the first semester of their graduate work.