July 29, 2004

Students participate in design-build competition

by Bonnie Marx

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- While the city of Carbondale prepared to convert R. Buckminster Fuller's original dome home to a temporary post office for a day to issue a commemorative Fuller stamp, a group of Southern Illinois University Carbondale students was creating a tribute to Fuller deep in the heart of Texas.

One of SIUC's two teams in the competition chose to replicate a Fuller-inspired dome they had just toured in Fort Worth. Casa Manana is the nation's first permanent theater designed for the production of musicals-in-the-round. None of the group was aware that the Fuller stamp was being unveiled July 13 in Carbondale, two days after they would return to Carbondale.The architecture students, all sophomores, and one of their professors got the challenge earlier this month at the Construction Specification Institute's annual design-build competition in San Antonio. Each of the 14 teams was to follow the theme "Remembering" by comparing or contrasting San Antonio to their home institution's region in one-inch ceramic tiles.

The second group did an abstract depiction of the San Antonio River and the Mississippi River.

"None of them had any experience in ceramics," said Norman L. Lach, assistant professor of architecture and interior design. "I thought it would be a mess, but it was great."

Since they were last-minute entrants in the competition, the students stayed up "most of the night" designing the murals, said student Matt S. Hupe. And they managed to combine business with pleasure when they went in search of a Kinko's at 4 a.m. and made a stop at the Alamo.

The student groups decorated a group of columns that are part of an overpass across the street from the FineSilver Building, which is home to art galleries and the San Antonio chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Lach said the permanent murals near historic downtown San Antonio are collectively worth $50,000.

A three-hour catwalks-to-basement tour of the new $250 million FedEx Forum in Memphis, new home of the Memphis Grizzlies. Hosting the group was Carlton Johnson, construction manager for Mortenson Construction, general contractor for the project, and a 2000 SIUC graduate.The whirlwind six-day journey offered the students a chance to see several other noted architectural creations, including:

  • The Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth, designed by Louis I. Kahn, one of the foremost architects of the 20th century.
  • Meridian Precast and Granite Inc. in Waco, where Charles R. Lowe, senior vice president of the company and a 1971 SIUC graduate, served as tour guide.
  • Thornecrown Chapel at Eureka Springs, Ark., and Cooper Memorial Chapel at Bella Vista, Ark., both designed by E. Fay Jones, an architect who apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright.
  • The American National Fish and Wildlife Museum's Wonders of Wildlife Museum in Springfield, Mo. Murphysboro taxidermist and museum artist Gary Brees created the dioramas at Wonders of Wildlife.

To see all the murals created in the student competition, go to http://www.csi-s.org.

Participating in the competition were:

Carrie M. Momeni

Dan C. Finholt

Crystal Lake
Ryan R. Murphy

Lilia A. Angel

Mark A. Dorsey

Nick Lach

Ryan E. Stroud

Matt S. Hupe

Jackson, Missouri
Jill M. Kirchherr