IKM Design Competition Spotlight: Electrifying College Residential

IKM Design Competition Spotlight: Electrifying College Residential

Websites like Bustler and ArchDaily give designers a platform for testing out their wildest ideas without the constraints of time and budget. It is widely accepted that we are made better by taking the time to explore big ideas in order to inform the real-world work we do for clients. We believe that this practice should not end in the  Architecture school Studio. This past December, we launched our inaugural, office-wide design competition surrounding a real multi-use residential project on an urban university campus. The competition served as the testing ground for staff to not only ideate and model their interpretation of the building and site plan, but also share a part of themselves through their concept of an urban oasis for students. We were not disappointed.

What did we learn? Opportunities to let our minds wander not only allows individuals to showcase their strengths, but it also unites us as a firm to make client work richer. It won’t be long before 3D models are once again taking shape at every corner of the office.

Until next time, we hope you find inspiration in these winning designs that are so much more than a dorm.



1.) Keith Bartley: “Transistor”


Most of us carry technology in our pockets that, as Dr. Michio Kaku describes, “has more computer power than all of NASA back in 1969, when it placed two astronauts on the moon”. The millions of circuits we encounter everyday impact where we go, what we do, how we get there, and how we live. As a transistor is the unit which amplifies a charge in a circuit board, the students should amplify the charge and desire to develop new technologies to help us make our way through a world run by technology. The building in which those students live is their circuit board; their space where energy runs through and ideas come to fruition.

Can the building they live in inspire them to innovate?



Inspired by the elements of these circuits, an elegantly curved continuous outline intersects horizontal lines while also splitting its path and returning to its origin. The large mass formed by the circuit of outlines wraps the site in a continuous form, breaking at the south elevation. The heavy mass evokes a sense of security, creating a massive boundary one must cross to enter the building. The weight of the mass is made lighter by a cantilevered bridge, yet remains a strong boundary as one passes through to enter via the main pedestrian entry just off the central partial-four season courtyard, half of which remains under the protection of the building’s third floor and can be enclosed in winter to remain in use. The primary driveway entry at the north of the building also sits beneath an overhanging second floor, creating protection from weather and another intimidating boundary. Multi-use spaces are accessed via entries on street side.

Rooftop terraces with gardens allow students to enjoy a connection to and inspiration from nature without having to leave the safety of their building.



2.) Zoe Demple: “The Intersection”


The new student living and academic center on a busy corner of an urban campus seeks to fuse Student Life with Faculty spaces through the intersection of a large academic atrium space. The space will interconnect two secluded branches of student living quarters and faculty spaces. The exposed structure and translucent facade of the atrium space not only allows for the volume to act as a beacon of light, but it alludes to the open plan of the space itself; providing flexible, versatile, and open learning and lounge spaces. These varied spaces seek to create a new typology of academic building; where student life is truly integrated with academic experience.



“It was refreshing to take a step back and think about one’s personal design process with this charrette style project. With IKM allowing us the time to work on this, everyone was really able to dive in and come up with a broad range of unique and creative solutions to this seemingly simple design prompt. It was an invaluable experience to be given the opportunity to express individual creativity while seeing how differently our colleagues think through design.”



3.) Robyn Engel: “Refuge”


This design competition was a blast.  Since I first learned about translucent concrete in school, I’ve been obsessed with it, but it’s so prohibitively expensive not many clients can incorporate it into their budgets. In an in-house design competition, though, anything is game. Being able to transcend the constraints of reality was invigorating. I wanted to sculpt a design that served as a safe place for students to grow without being closed off from their surroundings. Cue translucent concrete with a weathered-steel core and green courtyards. When I was rummaging around the office and came across an LED plate, it was like angels singing – since I envisioned translucent concrete, I knew lighting it would make it pop and the illuminated plate was perfect.



Guest Contributors:

Keith Bartley, Project Designer

Zoe Demple, Project Designer

Robyn Engel, AIA, Project Architect