Home-Articles Posted by Robert Vaughan (Page 2)

Posts by Robert Vaughan

DSC08003 - Version 2Cole Smith of Charlottesville, Virginia is a May 2016 graduate with a bachelors in Industrial Design in the School of Architecture + Design. Growing up in a UVA household led him to believe he would never attend Virginia Tech. After participating in the Math, Engineering, & Science Academy at Albemarle High School, Smith started researching Industrial Design programs and discovered the one here. After working in the design industry for five to ten years, he hopes to one day become a design professor.

What led you to choose Virginia Tech?

I came and checked out the Industrial Design program here, and I saw the white table. It’s this big white table down in the studio and there’s a big plastic sheet on top where they put really good sketches, so that whenever you’re drawing or sketching something, you’re doing it on top of this big pile of really good sketches that other students have done. I saw that and thought to myself, ‘I want to be able to do that. I’m going to go here because they can do that.’ That was the really inspiring thing – seeing all of the work that the students were doing.

What is your favorite part about your major?

I like being able to work on so many different things – I think that’s the most interesting part. You can take this process and apply it to almost anything. To me at least, the variety in products is so much more than the variety in buildings. I feel like the forms are all completely different from one another, and you’re working at different scales all the time. You could design a car or you could design a cell phone. I like being able to take this process and apply it to different things.

What is your favorite project you’ve worked on at Virginia Tech?

The finite faucet. The goal is to improve health, save water, and convince other people to save water on their own. It replaces those automatic faucets you see all the time.

The way it works is – it has a big cylinder on the top that fills up with water, and when you turn it on it closes the valve to the cylinder and drains the water out. Then, you have to turn off the faucet to have it refill. You put your hand under the faucet and it gives you just enough water for you to get your hands wet, and when you close it, the amount of time it takes to refill is the exact amount of time the CDC recommends for you to wash your hands with soap. Then you turn it back on and you can rinse your hands. It makes you wash your hands the correct way and, statistically, 95% of people don’t wash their hands after leaving a restroom. This addresses that problem. It uses 12% of the water that most people use when washing their hands.

What is your most recent project?

It’s probably the cutest project I’ve ever worked on. It’s a service dog vest where they pull a ball to send out an alert. Some seizure alert dogs can actually tell if their owner is going to have a seizure, like an hour beforehand or more. We don’t have any technology that can do this so far – it’s only dogs that have this ability, and only some of them.

We have this service dog vest, where, if something goes wrong or the dog senses that something might go wrong, they can activate it by pulling a little ball on the vest. It’ll alert the user, and if the user doesn’t respond to the alert, the dog is trained to run around and alert other people and then bring them back to the user to help. If that doesn’t happen, it’ll call EMT and give them GPS coordinates to the location.

If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

I’m really interested in going to East Asia, Japan, and China. They’ve developed in such a different way than we did as countries. Japan is already super developed and has this crazy digital economy where it’s really normal to pay with your phone. Most phones actually come with the digital payment system and you can do things like put your train ticket on your phone. All of this stuff that’s just emerging in the States has already been in Japan for ages. There are entire hotels that have no staff. They’re run entirely by robots. Stuff like that is innovative in Japan, but in the States you can’t even imagine it. They have a completely different perception of how technology should fit into society. I’m curious about that because we’re all going to get there eventually.

563027_10201168258082872_856634914_nShannon Cain of West Chester, Pennsylvania is a rising fourth year architecture student. After graduation, she hopes to get a job with an architecture firm that is small enough that she can get to know everyone in the office. She hopes to live in a more rural area, rather than living in a city. Her favorite part about her major is the community. She enjoys getting to know teachers as people rather than just the person standing at the front of the classroom every day.

What is your favorite animal and why?

My favorite animal is a dog, to be specific a German Shepherd. All my life I have had one as a pet until coming here to Virginia Tech. They are playful and loving, but also protective and dependable. If treated and trained correctly they will be loyal, loving, and protective companions.

What led you to your major?

When I was really young, my parents found that while most kids would be happy with crayons and paper for half an hour, I would be happy for hours on end with paper and tape designing houses. As I got older and I traveled with my family to places like the Bahamas and Las Vegas, I found I was more interested in the buildings and culture than I was with going to the beach or shopping. Architecture was just something that was in me, and when I had the chance to design buildings for a living, I took it.

What made you choose Virginia Tech?

I knew I wanted to go to college for architecture, and when it came time to choose a school, my parents only wanted me to go so far from home. I knew I didn’t want to go to school in a city, so that eliminated a lot of options. When searching for schools I found a few closer to home than Virginia Tech, but none of those schools appealed to me. When I came to Virginia Tech for the first time, within ten minutes of being on campus, I just knew this was the place for me. The students seemed happy to be here and the community seemed to be incorporated into the college and not a separate thing like my home town. The location also attracted me as it was like a hidden town in the mountains. It wasn’t a city of bustling people, but also wasn’t a school in the middle of nowhere. It just felt like a place that could and would be home.

Tell me about your most recent project.

My most recent project is to design a Buddhist retreat center that would be located on Virginia Tech’s Kentland Farms. It is a combination of multiple buildings all adding up to around 10,000 square feet. We are to design a place that is both for people to visit on a single day, or for people to stay for long periods of time. My favorite part is the location. It is on a hill that overlooks some of the farm and you can also see out into the mountains. It leaves you a lot of options for locations of buildings on the 27 acres of land we have for a site. The site is also close-by, so we get to go visit it as we want and not just look at it on the internet.

What is your favorite thing you are involved in outside of your major?

It is actually not a Virginia Tech thing; it is something I have done since I was 16 and old enough to drive. It is drag racing. When I’m racing, it feels like everything in the world has disappeared. For those 14 seconds, the time it takes my car to go a quarter mile, I control what happens, and whether I win or lose, I had fun. I have no one to depend on and no one is depending on me. I control what happens and no one is there telling me how to do it. The only worry is the other car running next to you, but if you did everything right in the beginning then they shouldn’t really matter. Whether you win or lose, the people around you are there to support you. We are a family at the race track and nothing will change that.


ginaGina Fontanella of Lemoyne, Pennsylvania is a rising senior majoring in Interior Design. Growing up, she always wanted to be an architect, but once she began taking her foundations courses she realized she was much more interested in designing interior spaces that people have the chance to interact with on a daily basis. Her favorite part about her major is the ability to create spaces that can change the way people feel and provide experiences that they will always remember.

What’s your favorite animal and why?

Monkeys have been my favorite animals since I was just a little girl when I got my first monkey puppet. Besides being absolutely adorable, they are such goofy animals who just want to swing around, play, and have fun. Plus, they can pick things up with their toes which is a skill I also have.

What projects have you worked on recently?

I recently completed a group project for the 2015 IDEC competition. The project was an interior design community center where community members could come and voice their thoughts and designers of various skill levels could help implement their ideas. Our center was located in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, an area that was hit badly by Hurricane Katrina and is still in the process of rebuilding.  During our research, we came across a tree that three members of the community clung to for hours in order to survive the hurricane. The tree was later made into a sculpture with the branches as wings. It was named the Angel Tree. We used the tree as the basis of our design to help with the idea of strength and to show that they can overcome this tragedy. The growth rings of a tree served as our spatial strategy with the center core being a spiral staircase that led to the second floor. The stairs were enclosed in multiple glass panels of various depths and transparencies to represent bark on a tree. While pieces of the bark may fall off, a tree has the ability to grow back to its original strength, just like this community.

What are your plans after graduation?

I would love to get a job in the hospitality field of interior design focusing on hotels, resorts, bars, and other spaces of that nature. Ideally, I would be based somewhere on the west coast with beautiful warm weather and have the opportunity to travel for projects.

If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

Morocco. I have always dreamed of going there because of its culture and design style. Being able to experience such a polar opposite to everything I know would be a great learning opportunity for me. I would definitely want to bring my parents because they have always supported me in everything I do, but have never been able to travel outside of the country. Plus, I think it would be hilarious to watch my mother handle the culture shock.

Note: The deadline has been extended to Friday, July 13!

Dear Colleagues,

DesignIntelligence is conducting their annual surveys of America’s best architecture and design schools. If you are a person in your firm who hires architects, landscape architects, interior designers, or industrial designers,  you are invited to share your experiences and perspectives. The annual rankings are today’s leading resource to rank architecture and design programs on the basis of their ability to prepare graduates for professional practice. You can access more information about the methodology and results of last year’s research at the DesignIntelligence website: www.di.net.

The short questionnaires will require approximately 10 minutes of your time. Please plan to finish the survey in one sitting; you will not be able to return to the survey at a later time. The responding party must be in a leadership position qualified to hire employees. If you are not qualified to complete this questionnaire on your firm’s behalf, we ask that you forward it on to a more appropriate person. Individual responses to this time-sensitive survey will be kept confidential, but a listing of the responding firms may be published.

Please respond by Friday, June 10, using the online surveys:



Landscape Architecture:


Industrial Design:


Interior Design:


The results will be published in the 18th annual edition of DesignIntelligence’s America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools, to be released in September 2016.

If you have any questions or comments, you may contact DesignIntelligence Publisher Bob Fisher at bfisher@di.net.

Thank you for your confidence in us and for your professional contributions.


Jack Davis, FAIA LEED

Reynolds Metals Professor and


Husband and wife team Audrey and Alex Worden competed against leading international architecture and engineering firms and organizations and tied for first place in the “Reimagine a New York City Icon” competition, the 2016 Design Challenge sponsored by Metals in Construction magazine and the Ornamental Metal Institute of New York. The team won for their “Thermalswitch Facade” concept.

Audrey (Lucardi) Worden graduated with her Masters of Science in Architecture in the fall of 2010 and Alex Worden graduated with his Masters in Architecture in Spring 2011. Together, the run the firm StudioTJOA in Boulder, Colorado. In late February, the couple was awarded 1st place alongside five other teams from significant firms for the redesign/ reclad of 200 Park Ave; also known as the MetLife building. They tied with some huge AEC firms including SHoP Architects, AECOM, FXFOWLE, Thornton Thomasetti, and Heingtes.

Information about the competition and StudioTJOA’s complete entry are available on the competition website.

They  also just recently completed a Q&A with the Facade Tectonics Organization lead by Enclos Corp.



Three interdisciplinary teams of students from the Course Textile Space (Paola Zellner) and independent studies (Prof Tom Martin) worked on design projects prompted by NASA. The students presented their projects and prototypes at the Wearable Technology Symposium at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

There were a total of 19 university teams present representing Pratt, the University of Minnesota, Georgia Tech, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, and the University of Alaska. The student groups presented to the audience composed of all participating schools, NASA mentors, and NASA administrators and employees (including an astronaut), and participate in the afternoon in Poster/Demo sessions, for one-on-one conversations about their work. During the symposium the groups also had the opportunity to visit the Rocket Park and go on a guided tour of Johnson Space Center.

Following NASA’s goals to benefit society, the students are encouraged to find consumer applications of their explorations in addition to potential answers to NASA’s prompts. The projects explored were:

  • Modular Deformation Sensor Networks
  • Multimodal Caution and Warning System
  • Inflatable Habitat Secondary Structure

The Virginia Tech students who participated were:

  • Monica Welcker, Industrial Design, Dublin, Ohio
  • Namitha Somasundara, Computer Engineering, Masters, Hometown: Chennai, India
  • Megan Kelly, Architecture, Withams, VA
  • Kevin Malhotra, Computer Engineering Graduating Fall 2016, Wayne, NJ
  • Brian Elliott, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Year: Senior, Hometown: Harrisonburg, VA
  • Malik White, Architecture, Ashland, VA
  • Jarett Volkoff, Industrial Design, Morgan Hill, Ca.
  • (Adam) Yang Song, Mechanical Engineering (participated in the project but could not travel due to exams schedules)

Faculty, staff, and students from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies gathered at the University Club on April 21 for the college’s annual awards ceremony.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”25″ gal_title=”2016 CAUS Awards”]

CAUS and University Awards

CAUS Certificate for Excellence in Teaching:
Ann-Marie Knoblauch

CAUS Certificate for Excellence in Outreach: 
Patrick Doan

CAUS Certificate for Creative Achievement: 
Akshay Sharma

CAUS Certificate for Career Achievement: 
Carol Burch-Brown

CAUS Diversity Recognition Award: 
Tanyel Bulbul

CAUS Certificate for Excellence in Scholarship: 
Brian M. Kleiner and Paul Emmons

CAUS Outstanding Administrative
& Professional/Staff Award: 
Tracey Drowne and Carolyn J. Harris

Elizabeth Roberson Staff Excellence Award: 
Tamela Gallimore

CAUS Lifetime Contribution Award: 
Jaan Holt

University Teaching Excellence: 
Joyce Rothschild

College Award for Outreach Excellence honored through Virginia Tech’s Office of Outreach and International Affairs: 
Annie Pearce

Outstanding Recent Alumni: 
Dustin Russell Akers

Outstanding Doctoral Student: 
Oluwateniola E. Ladipo

Outstanding Master’s Student Award: 
Michael J. Young

Outstanding Senior: 
Leigh A. Soistmann

Years of Service:


  • Lisa R. Cash
  • Annie R. Pearce
  • Georgeta V. Pourchot
  • Thomas W. Sanchez
  • Akshay Sharma
  • Lisa M. Tucker
  • Dane Webster


  • Marilyn D. Casto


  • Paul J. Kelsch
  • Diane L. Zahm


  • Elizabeth T. Gilboy


  • Yvan J. Beliveau


  • Dean R. Bork
  • David F. Crane


  • Robert J. Dunay

Graduating CAUS Ambassadors:

  • Bryauna Clark, Public and Urban Affairs
  • Amy Eliason, Landscape Architecture
  • Lauren Fabin, Interior Design and Studio Art
  • Alison Flanagan, Studio Art
  • Nathan Ong, Environmental Policy & Planning
  • Jessica Sanders, Interior Design
  • Shannon Standish, Architecture
  • Zachary Wolk, Architecture
  • Celeste Zabowski, Studio Art

IMG_2179Shannon Standish of Charlotte, North Carolina is a fifth year student majoring in Architecture and minoring in Industrial Design and History. After graduation, she plans to work in an architectural office that focuses on custom residential or small-scale commercial spaces. She would like to work on buildings where she can get into the details of construction on the smallest level. She hopes to design buildings that exemplify their materiality and create better environments for their occupants.

What is your favorite animal?

I have always loved pigs. As a kid, I was obsessed with Piglet and Winnie the Pooh. I have dozens of piglet stuffed animals to prove it! I also love sausage, which gave me a bit of a life crisis when elementary school me found out Piglet and sausage were one in the same. I got through that, and now i just say I love pigs in all forms.

What led you to your major?

My mom is an architect, so growing up I was well-exposed to the field, but more than that architecture always seemed to fit who I am. I love crafting and creating beautiful well-designed things, but I also love learning and problem-solving, too. As a kid, if we had a project I would always spend weeks before it was due working on the poster or model to make sure it was perfect, but the paper would invariably happen the night before. I always had some ploy or another to make money selling things I had made – at school or on Etsy. Architecture gives me the fundamentals to design anything from a chair to an urban plan, and all the buildings in between. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What made you want to come to Virginia Tech?

I first visited Virginia Tech in middle school when my summer camp counselor, a Hokie, brought us to visit on our way to a whitewater rafting trip. It was about two months about April 16th, so we visited all the memorials as we walked through campus. The sense of community I felt was profound. You could feel the Hokie Nation surrounding the campus, there to support and encourage all Hokies. On top of all this, VT has a beautiful campus centered around the Drillfield and surrounded by mountains that offer all the great outdoor sports I love. A few months later, Virginia Tech’s architecture program was ranked 1st place nationally, and I knew without a doubt I would go to Tech. My parents, UVA alumni, took a bit more convincing.

What is the most recent project you’ve worked on?

I’m working on my thesis year. We pick one topic to explore over the course of a year, which helps us to establish our position about the kind of work we want to produce as we go into our professional careers. I’m researching how a building might be specific to one place and, in particular, how a building might speak to the history of the area and leave an impact on future buildings in the area. The impetus for this is from the idea that most sustainable building, environmentally and socially, is done with the lifetime of the building in mind. A building that lasts hundreds of years should be designed and constructed differently and with different materials than one that lasts 10 years. I’m working on the design of a Farmers Market for a small town in Vermont. The goal is that the town members might be able to easily put up this market shelter in the spring and take it down in the winter. This will increase the lifetime of the shelter while building a sense of community for the town.

What else are you involved with at Virginia Tech?

I helped to restart the CAUS Ambassador Program my freshman year. We help perspective, current, and past students of the college to connect with the the college and other schools, and mainly give perspective students a student viewpoint of the college. I am a member of the American Institute of Architecture Students, an alumni of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and a member of Habitat for Humanity. I work as a Student Assistant Manager in one of the campus dining halls, where I’ve met a great group of other students outside of Architecture. I also spend a couple hours most weeks with a high school class in Floyd, Virginia to help them design and build a small Cordwood home. When I can, I love hiking, walking, and any adventure sports.

Tell me about your study abroad experience.

Last year, I had the chance to study at Virginia Tech’s Steger Center in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland. The way Europeans design and build architecture is completely different than is commonly done in America. Being able to travel across Western Europe to see and understand other ways of design and other ways of living was a turning point in my education. Great buildings I had studied in other classes were laid out before me so that I might begin to understand those qualities that made them so great. No picture could ever do them justice, and my architecture will forever by informed by the experiences I had that semester.

Professor of Architecture Markus Breitschmid is currently appointed as an external expert to review 130 architecture graduate degree theses at the Accademia di Architettura of the Universita della Svizzera Italiana in Mendrisio during the 2016 Spring and Summer semesters. The Accademia di Architettura is a prominent school of architecture located in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, influenced by former and current faculty members such as Mario Botta, Aurelio Galfetti, Pritzker Prize laureates Peter Zumthor and Eduoardo Souto de Moura, as well as Francesco Dal Co, Kenneth Frampton, Leonardo Benevelo, and Elia Zenghelis.

Graduate students Kyle Lukacs, Lauren Hall, Nick Ruiz, Douglas Cobb, Jon Wergin, and Kerri Oddenino in Associate Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning Ralph Buehler’s transportation studio class presented findings of their recent study of cycling in the Foggy Bottom/Farragut area at the ‘Think Bike’ Workshop April 21 and 22, hosted by the Dutch Embassy and the US Department of Transportation.
The event was held at the national academies on the national mall in DC. In the audience were representatives from USDOT (including a deputy administrator of FHWA, people from NHTSA, FTA, etc.), representatives from the DC Department of Transport (including the head of DDOT), representatives from the Dutch Embassy, Staff of TRB, as well as local planners and planners from 4 US metros.
For the study, the students did a field inventory, crash analysis, and surveys of people traveling in the area to assess cycle-friendliness of the study area, find out who travels within the study area, and determine whether and what infrastructure improvements would encourage more cycling in the study area.
Most respondents agreed that cycling does not feel safe in the study area and that separate facilities, such as protected bikelanes and separated bike lanes (cycle tracks) are needed in particular for individuals who currently classified themselves as interested in cycling, but concerned about doing it.