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Students and faculty from the School of Visual Arts in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech won seven ADDY awards in the American Advertising Federation’s recent Western Virginia awards competition. Their designs, ranging from beer labels to mobile apps created for regional and national clients, now advance to the next round in the world’s largest advertising competition, which draws more than 40,000 entries annually.

ADDY awards recognize the best in creativity, originality, and strategy in areas ranging from logo and publication design to videos, websites, consumer apps, and animation. Out of 365 entries, AAF judges awarded 90 gold and silver awards in over 50 categories to students and professionals throughout the Roanoke Valley, New River Valley, and Lynchburg. Winners now head to the regional ADDYs – encompassing Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina – April 8 in Raleigh, North Carolina, to find out if they’ll move on to the national finals.

Professional/Faculty Awards:

Meaghan Dee’s ward-winning materials for the 2016 SECAC Educator Conference.

Meaghan Dee, assistant professor and chair of Visual Communication Design, earned two ADDYs, including a gold ADDY for a laser-cut holiday card and chocolate packaging set that garnered a 2017 Graphic Design USA American Package Design Award earlier this year.

Dee also won a silver ADDY for the 2016 SECAC Art Educator Conference branding and promotional materials, which included the conference program, notebook, mobile app visuals, name badges, signage, and tote bags.

Patrick Finley, assistant professor of Graphic Design, won a silver ADDY for app design with FitHub, a fitness app that links to all wearable fitness devices and encourages users to track fitness based statistics and compete against friends in challenges. FitHub also earned the Google Developer “Best of Show” Award in the fitness category and has over 50,000 downloads to date.

 Student Awards:

Students at SOVA’s student-run design studio, FourDesign, earned three ADDY awards for client projects.

FourDesign, a student-run design studio that creates branding and marketing materials for local, regional, and national clients, earned three silver ADDYs. Led by Assistant Professor of Practice Jeff Joiner, FourDesign connects top-notch student talent with businesses and organizations in need of professional, affordable, strategy-based branding and marketing materials.

The Peachicot Blonde Ale beer label for River Company Brewery’s most popular ale, designed and illustrated by 2015 Visual Communication Design graduates Sarah Goforth and Becca Grogan, earned a silver ADDY. Both Goforth and Grogan now work as graphic designers in Richmond, Virginia.

Logo designs for Virginia Cyber Range and Molecular Sciences Software Institute by junior Visual Communication Design major Charlotte DeWolfe of Vienna, Virginia, each earned silver ADDYs.

The Peachicot Blonde Ale label designed for River Company Brewery by SOVA students was one of seven ADDY award winning projects from the school.

The Park Place app, which helps people find parking in Blacksburg and on the Virginia Tech campus using real-time interactive maps and data, garnered a silver ADDY for students JT Beach of Quinton, Virginia, Justin Bull, of Herndon, Virginia, Kathryne Cashwell of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Katherine Fairbanks of Fairfax Station, Virginia. Developed with Virginia Tech engineering and computer science students, the students designed the app in Dee’s Advanced Visual Communication Design class in fall 2016.

Students presented their Fall 2016 studio work to a professional audience at the By Design conference, hosted by Roanoke architectural office SFCS, a firm that specializes in housing for the elderly.

The Senior Living Studio, sponsored by SFCS and Autodesk sought fresh solutions to challenges of aging and was led by industrial design and architecture faculty Nathan King, Brook Kennedy, and Bill Green.

Student Lane Herring demonstrates Uppo, a walker promoting a more upright posture.

“The research-intensive semester challenged students to embrace messy contemporary problems in this space and to utilize design thinking to identify new opportunities for design to solve the pressing problems of an increasing aging population in the United States,” said Kennedy, who has offered the studio for four years.

With close guidance from retired IBM designer and guest instructor Loring Bixler, the students conducted user-centered research during engagement with a local retirement community, which helped to understand real issues faced by real people—a perspective of growing importance in the academic environment.

The course represents the first-of-its-kind transdisciplinary studio focusing on issues relating to design and health.

“The practice of design, including architecture, industrial design, interior design, etc., must constantly evolve to identify and improve the quality of human life by addressing dynamic global issues like health and aging,” said King. “This evolution requires an increasingly multidisciplinary approach. This is the state of practice our students will enter and, therefore, we have re-envisioned the pedagogical approach by offering an increasing number of hybrid studios that bring together students from multiple disciplines.”

“By addressing such a critical and temporally relevant subject like aging in place from a number of perspectives, we didn’t just enable students to reinvent existing products, but we also identified new design opportunities to improve the experience of aging, which can be emotional and difficult process for the whole family,” said Kennedy.

Several of the concepts displayed have already won awards. Students Austin Ledzian and Mark Meardon’s Polaris responsive lighting system, which helps prevents falls by lighting a path, won an honorable mention at the International Housewares Competition in Chicago.

Uppo, a walker that promotes a more upright posture, is a finalist at the global Stanford Center on Longevity Design Challenge, being held at Stanford University. The Uppo team, Emma Lee, Gerrold Walker, Lane Herring, Genesis Solano, and Charlene Lertlumprasert, are heading to California to compete in the Stanford in to compete.

Other teams are awaiting responses from a range of national competitions.

Aging and Health is a growing theme nationally and has considerable investment in the region both in Blacksburg and at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute. Roanoke and surrounding areas have become a hotbed for retirees.

“We believe there are a lot of opportunities through cross-disciplinary collaboration for Virginia Tech to engage regional organizations in areas of public health, and in this case, aging,” King said. “We hope to expand these efforts alongside our related international initiatives to provide opportunities for students to emerge as high-impact leaders in areas of design and health.”




Nicole Norris, a senior majoring in industrial design, won second place and $2,000 in the 2017 Student Design Competition sponsored by the International Housewares Association.

Her design, Wrinklerack Compact Ironing Station, combines a mirror, ironing board, and clothes rack for sleek décor and storage. Wall-mounted for stability with a support tube that also functions as a shoe rack, Wrinklerack includes hooks for hanging clothes and an iron storage shelf with a built-in power outlet. Easy to maneuver for all ages, the board lifts smoothly into position and can be adjusted to three heights.

“My inspiration for Wrinklerack was my displeasure with the current ironing board experience,” Norris said. “I found it unnecessarily difficult and annoying for an object that one might use quite often, so I set out to find a better solution. Too often, we settle for the current experience of a product just because that’s how it’s always been (ironing boards have had the same general form and experience since the 1800s). But we can apply design thinking here to help ‘elevate the everyday’ as I like to say.”

Norris is currently in New York completing a product design internship with Fisher-Price. Part of the Little People brand team, she’s helping design toys that stimulate children’s learning and emotional intelligence.

Norris will exhibit her Wrinklerack design March 18-22 at the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago, where she hopes to find a manufacturer for the product and network with prospective employers.

Norris attended high school in Aldie, Virginia, but has lived all over the world because her dad is in the military. She graduates in Fall 2017.

“I’m thankful to the industrial design program at Virginia Tech for giving me a great environment to develop as a designer,” Norris said. “From the resources to the familial atmosphere of support, it has been the perfect home away from home for professional and creative growth.”

Learn more about Norris and her work on her website, here.


ARCHITECT magazine and Hanley Wood Media visited the Virginia Tech FutureHAUS team for a behind-the-scenes tour of the fourth and final phase, the Bedroom and Home Office of the Future, at KBIS 2017 in Orlando.

In this video, CAUS Professor Joe Wheeler and Program Manager Bobby Vance show off how flex space, versatile design, smart technology, and cartridge construction come together in the ideal living/working space of the future.

ARCHITECT Video: The Future of Flex Space with FutureHAUS

The FutureHAUS bedroom and home office exhibit at KBIS 2017.

Professor Joe Wheeler talks to the Hanley Wood Media team.

A recent article by METROPOLIS magazine names Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies one of the most diverse and inclusive design and architecture schools in the nation.

In “Diversity Champions: 8 Schools That Aren’t Just Paying Lip Service To Diversity,” the magazine notes the following:

Students work in Burchard Hall at the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, named one of the nation’s most diverse and inclusive colleges for design and architecture by METROPOLIS.

Although diversity and inclusion initiatives have been sweeping universities across the U.S. for years (and for good reason), the need to openly and proactively recruit diverse students has only crystallized since the election of President Donald J. Trump. The following eight design and architecture schools (plus two honorable mentions) stand out for taking their diversity efforts above and beyond the rest. From scholarships to inclusive faculty training programs, these schools are game changers, setting a new precedent for more inclusive higher education.

 Virginia Tech, College of Architecture & Urban Studies

Enrollment Stats: White, 69%, Minority / International 31%

Best in Inclusive Pedagogy

In addition to being listed as one of Forbes’ Top 25 Public Colleges, the Princeton Review also ranks VA Tech 7th in the Nation for “Lots of Race/Class Interaction.” A campus-wide effort to make diversity a priority has also led to its recognition as a “Diversity Champion” by Insight Into Diversity. In addition to the diversity of the student groups, the school also hosts a lecture series titled “Intersections: Interdisciplinary Conversations about Social Justice and the Built Environment.” Moreover, Virginia Tech has some amazing initiatives to promote new forms of pedagogy, literally teaching teachers how to enable inclusive classrooms.

Read the full article here.

Virginia Tech interior design major Amy Groome won the top national prize at the Steelcase NEXT Student Design Competition last month – beating out more than 800 students from 65 colleges.

Groome, a senior in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies from Oakton, Virginia, won $2,500, along with a custom-ordered Think chair, a Campfire personal table, and a $2,500 contribution to Virginia Tech’s design program.

“Winning this competition during my last semester at Virginia Tech showed me how far I have come since the fall of 2013,” she said. “I was proud to represent Virginia Tech CAUS and excited to get positive feedback on the design approach I was taught here.”

Amy Groome presents her design to judges at the Steelcase NEXT Student Design Competition in Michigan.

Groome presented her plans for a fictitious Los Angeles architecture and design firm to a panel of industry leaders in the final challenge at Steelcase’s Michigan headquarters in February. Her design, inspired by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, was praised by judges for providing a “collaborative office culture” and “an ecosystem of spaces in order to cater to the needs of all generations and work styles.”

An honors student and LEED Green Associate, Groome is president of I.D.E.A.S. (Interior Designers for Education and Sustainability), where she’s been an officer all four years. She’s spent summers working as a junior designer at firms in San Francisco and Northern Virginia, and volunteers in service projects with Ronald McDonald House and Habitat for Humanity in the New River Valley.

After graduating in May, Groome plans to work at an architecture and design firm and obtain professional certification from the National Council for Interior Design and the WELL Building Standard.

“I am incredibly proud to be a student at CAUS,” Groome said. “The opportunities we have here, from cutting-edge technology to inspired research-driven professors, are invaluable. I know I am fortunate to have such close, personal relationships with my professors. Professor Lisa Tucker has been an incredible support system throughout my education, from giving me my tour of the program as a prospective student, to involving me in her research, and always challenging my thinking in the classroom. Each one of my studio professors has had a unique and profound impact on my experience as a design student.”

View her work at www.agroome.com and at https://www.steelcase.com/blog/future-designers-create-next-generation-design-studios/.

The Steelcase NEXT Student Design Competition is hosted annually by Steelcase Inc., a leading manufacturer of furniture for offices, hospitals, and classrooms and a global, publicly traded company with fiscal 2016 revenue of $3.1 billion.








Kyle VanDerVelden, a freshman in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction, is a winner of the Virginia Tech Common Book Project 2016-17 Essay Competition.

His essay, “The Potential of Ut Prosim,” describes how he started the nonprofit organization Right to Write as a 10th grader in Wayne, New Jersey. Ever since, he has held pencil drives at elementary schools and then shipped writing utensils to schools and orphanages in third-world countries where educational supplies are not affordable.

In the spring of 2016, VanDerVelden traveled to the Philippines to visit children at several of the orphanages where he has been sending supplies.

Now completing his freshman year as a Building Construction major at Virginia Tech, VanDerVelden has placed over 168,000 pencils in the hands of children worldwide.

Virginia Tech students entering the essay contest were asked to answer the question: “What does it mean to you to live a life of service and how do you make life choices that embody this value?”

You can learn more about the winning students and read their essays here.


Aki Ishida, assistant professor of architecture in Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies, has been named one of the nation’s leading new faculty in architecture. Ishida received the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s 2016-2017 New Faculty Teaching Award at the organization’s national conference in March. The award recognizes demonstrated excellence in teaching performance during the first 10 academic semesters of a full-time architectural teaching career.

This marks Ishida’s second recent prominent national recognition. DesignIntelligence named her one of the 25 Most Admired Educators for 2016.

“It’s a humbling honor to be recognized,” Ishida said. “The past five years at Virginia Tech have been a great education for me as a teacher, designer, and scholar. I have been inspired by my students to deepen and share my knowledge of architecture, by the fellow faculty to be a better teacher and scholar, and by my colleagues to collaborate on works of art, architecture, and technology.”

Ishida joined Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture + Design as full-time faculty in 2012, after a distinguished 17-year career as a professional architect and adjunct lecturer. She is also a fellow of the Institute for Creativity, Arts & Technology. She founded her own firm, Aki Ishida Architect PLLC in New York City, after working for Rafael Vinoly Architects, James Carpenter Design Associates, and I.M. Pei Architect. A New York state-licensed and LEED-accredited architect, she left her mark on projects ranging from museums, hipster bars, and public art installations to Princeton University Stadium.

A graduate of Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture and the University of Minnesota, Ishida has also taught at Rhode Island School of Design, The Pratt Institute, Parsons The New School for Design, and Konkuk University in Seoul, Korea. Each summer, she teaches architecture courses for high school students at Columbia University.

At Virginia Tech, Ishida has led students in interactive projects that merge art, architecture, and engineering, including the award-winning Lantern Field at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery in Washington, D.C., and The Cloud in Ballston, Virginia. Her students have also collaborated to design exam and recovery rooms for cancer patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering, reconceptualized parks and trails in Manhattan, built immersive public art installations, and participated in a Japan travel program to study traditional and contemporary architecture.

“Aki is a professional role model of interdisciplinary design,” said Jack Davis, dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. “Her teaching and work incorporates influences from multiple cultures, disciplines, and technology fields, for the benefit of our students, colleagues, and general public. It’s a joy to experience and witness the student engagement.”

Ishida teaches second-year studio, advises eight thesis students, and co-leads two faculty-student research and design projects. With the smART field, Ishida is part of an interdisciplinary team devising new paths for Virginia Tech’s Drillfield that integrate illumination, data collection, and energy harvesting into the pavement. She has also worked with the international dance troupe and institute Diavolo on a set design that merges light, motion, and architecture. Her research has been supported by industry partners such as Philips Color Kinetics, the 3M Company, and Arup, a global leader in engineering. Her written scholarship currently focuses on complex readings of glass transparency in architecture, connecting material glass to broader cultural, technical, and social contexts.

In selecting Ishida for the award, the ACSA jury commented, “Aki goes beyond the expected classroom deliverables and really focuses on the learning process of her students. She has a great understanding of how architecture and its elements can be taught through immersion in different cultures.”

Among Ishida’s many admirers are students and recent graduates who cite her as a driving force in their own aspirations and success.

“Aki encourages her students to experiment and fosters the environment for unexpected results,” said Nicholas Coates, a 2015 architecture graduate of Virginia Tech and recipient of the SOM Prize, a prestigious $50,000 travel and research fellowship. “She encompasses one of the most enriching qualities that educators can possess: being learners themselves. She is a professor that continues to grow and evolve with each and every endeavor – a shining role model for her students and the university as a whole.”



Join CAUS for An Exhibition of Cultures, featuring traditional garments and accessories from cultures worldwide.

A fashion show and reception will be held Feb. 14, from 4-5 p.m. in the Art + Architecture Library, 100 Cowgill.

The exhibition runs Feb. 13-17 in the library.

Traditional dress is encouraged.

This exhibition is curated by CAUS diversity scholar Shabnam Kavousi and sponsored by the CAUS Diversity Committee.



A revolutionary portable device invented by Virginia Tech Professor of Architecture Mehdi Setareh with help from students promises to make structural vibration-reducing technology universally accessible.

The PTMD – or portable tuned mass damper – significantly improves on existing technology by making it more compact, affordable, simple to set up and tune, and easy to integrate into a structure’s design. The device has reduced vibrations by as much as 40 to 75 percent in tests at Virginia Tech’s Vibration Testing Lab, as well as in campus buildings and a footbridge in Clifton Forge.

“With the increased use of modern, lightweight building materials to create elegant, flexible designs, we’ve also seen an upsurge in the problem of structural vibrations,” said Setareh, a professor in the School of Architecture + Design in Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies and founder/director of Virginia Tech’s Vibration Testing Lab. “While these vibrations are not necessarily dangerous, they can be disturbing to people and interfere with sensitive equipment and instrumentation. The PTMD improves upon an expensive and complicated dampening system by offering a cost-effective alternative that’s easy to manufacture and use.”

Tuned mass dampers are used worldwide to mitigate vibrations in structures like buildings and bridges, where excessive movement can be alarming or even sickening to occupants. They’re famously employed in landmarks like London’s Millennium Bridge, Trump World Tower in New York, and Taiwan’s Taipei 101 skyscraper, where they help minimize swaying from foot traffic and wind. The vast majority are multi-ton devices that occupy an average of 1,000 square feet, and are complex and costly to install, tune, and maintain.

Setareh’s PTMD presents a revolutionary alternative to its behemoth forefather. Smaller than a nightstand and under 275 pounds, the device can be easily set up and adjusted by non-technical personnel using a $5 iTunes application and Setareh’s instructions.

The PTMD also can be easily integrated into the construction of a building or added as a post-construction corrective measure. Its small footprint means it can be conveniently hidden away in a cupboard or even incorporated as a design feature.

“The nice thing about these units is that they are portable and it’s easy to fit them inside the furniture. You can move them around and you can tune them easily,” Setareh said. “We are able to use them both as a fix or as part of the original design. You can cut down on the cost of construction by using lighter steel beams, and with devices like this, you can economically cut down the movement and vibration.”

Setareh has applied for a patent on the device and is working with students from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the College of Engineering to perfect it for commercial and industrial applications. They’re also working on new prototypes that can be integrated even more easily and effectively into building designs.

Setareh plans to package the device and place it on the market as a kit of parts. Each unit will include instructions on how to assemble, install, and tune it. Even though the units are mostly maintenance-free, the dampers may need adjustments every few years, depending on their level of use. These adjustments can easily be made by the consumer, by following the re-tuning instructions included with each PTMD unit.

The PTMD shows great promise for use in settings such as theatres, malls, nightclubs, and monumental staircases, where high-traffic floor vibrations can be unsettling or frightening to occupants. It also holds strong potential in settings like hospitals and labs, where sensitive equipment demands very small environmental vibrations.

A nationally recognized expert on structural vibration, Setareh’s 36-year career as an engineer has focused on using technology to study and enhance the interplay between structural design and vibrations. His work on minimizing vibration in a dramatic cantilevered corporate headquarters in Michigan and a monumental staircase at Michigan State University’s Broad Art Museum earned national awards from the American Institute of Steel Construction for Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture.

Setareh began working on the PTMD in 2014 as part of a National Science Foundation grant-funded project. The two-foot-high, 15-inch-wide box, crafted by the technicians at the college’s metal shop, consists of plates, springs, and dampers that are tuned to the natural frequency of a structure. It reduces vibrations by moving in the opposite direction of the structure, but at 10 to 20 times higher accelerations.

Virginia Tech’s Vibration Testing Lab is the only facility in the country dedicated solely to research on vibration serviceability issues. Created in 2011 with major support from the NSF and industry partners, the lab houses a two-story, full-scale steel structure, embedded with sensors, dynamic signal analyzers, and force platforms, and an assortment of sophisticated testing and measurement equipment. Students use the lab in course-related work and serve as researchers and test subjects studying and solving structural vibration problems.

“This research has been invaluable for me to apply in my future career,” said Sriram Sankaranarayanan, a master’s student in civil engineering from Bangalore, India, who is one of Setareh’s research assistants. “Floor vibration is a serviceability issue in many structures. The work I’ve done here will help me as a structural engineer who is interested in seismic design and analysis.”

“Our work in the Vibration Testing Lab was eye-opening for me,” added Trey King, a third-year architecture student from Knoxville, Tennessee. “It challenged me to think beyond aesthetics and building function and consider how my designs affect occupants in terms of vibration serviceability.”