July 1, 2020

Baltimore Office Provides Critiques, Project Lessons for Senior Architecture Students

A team of architects from CannonDesign recently partnered with a senior architecture studio at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Over the course of the last month, multiple designers had the chance to present recent CannonDesign and ModularDesign+ projects, as well as review and provide feedback for senior capstone projects within a Comprehensive Design Development studio.

The students are pursuing a design competition entitled “No Man’s Land” – a project with heavy political influences located along the US / Mexico border, which aims to provide temporary shelter for asylum seekers.

Project Brief:

As asylum seekers occupy border walkways and bridges, it’s function expands from a transit medium to space for rehabilitation. These bridges connect Mexico and USA not only physically, but also culturally and emotionally. It’s a gateway for asylum seekers – for their dreams, freedom and security. Border bridges essentially are shared spaces, belonging to no one country. With migrant facilities limiting total intake and asylum seekers refusing to leave bridges, idea is to expand it to become a temporary habitat. The challenge is to design an immigrant respite center. It will function as a temporary accommodation facility for 1500 asylum seekers – over a pedestrian vehicular border bridge.

Christina LoConte, Karen Martin, Ryan Pietrowski, Anthony Vischansky, Design Leader Kent Muirhead, and Executive Director of Design David M. Polzin, among other design professionals, were invited by Professor Brent White to critique the students’ work over multiple sessions. An architect in the Baltimore office for several years, Brent recently relocated to Georgia to become a professor at his alma mater. Utilizing connections developed within the tight-knit Baltimore office, Brent reached out to our team to participate.

Reviewers received a package to prepare for the critiques, complete with VR glasses which allowed for an interactive presentation experience.

“This was a true testament to the optimism and tenacity in our profession, especially in these troubling times. The praise I received from students following critiques was overwhelming. I look forward to sharing more student work…” – Brent White, AIA, NCARB

In-between weeks of capstone reviews, Brent invited Brian Skripac, Director of Virtual Design & Construction, and Ryan Pietrowski to present on recent projects, and how virtual design + construction is further enabling modular design, prefabrication, and integrated project teams at CannonDesign. The aim was to provide value to students through shared professional experiences and provide relevance to their capstone project. The presentation featured two recent projects: the Los Angeles County Restorative Care Village (LAC RCV), and our work to develop customized, kit-of-parts solutions for new medical office buildings. The firm is working with national health providers on these types of solutions.

In the presentation, Ryan drew connections between the politics and design narrative of the LAC RCV with the students’ work on “No Man’s Land.” He shared how the design narrative for the project developed, how the building facades evolved, and the involvement the local community had in providing contextual inspiration during the design process.

Brian Skripac highlighted integrated project teams and the exciting future of modular construction, including the role of ModularDesign+ on the LAC RCV project. Brian showed the evolution of the design team’s model to a fabrication ready model for a series of fully finished modular rooms that will be built in Lawrence, Kansas then transported across the country to be inserted into the building shell in Los Angeles. By embracing a Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA) for repeatable building elements, the modular design and prefabrication approach reduces project cost, speed-to-market and material costs while providing predictable outcomes.


Other work shared included an early look at how CannonDesign is in the early development of a robust library of digital components from medical equipment to room templates to module floor layouts for national health clients. These building components can then be built with prefabricated interior wall panels while sitting within a predefined structural grid that utilizes a series of standardized steel frame components that are assembled on site. In addition, these buildings take advantage of prefabricated structural exterior enclosure panels that when combined with all of the other systems, highlight how a virtual build and automation approach to design and construction can create prefabricated, better quality buildings at an affordable price in less time.

The final capstone review for SCAD senior students took place on May 27th. Congratulations to all the seniors for making it to this point, throughout all the unknowns. A round-of-applause for teachers and professors alike – for adapting and crafting new ways for students to learn and grow. CannonDesign is honored to be involved and provide additional support for these future architects.