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Architecture Student Puts Keene State in the Limelight

Keene State has another nationally ranked student.

The architectural design work of Chad Wanstreet has been recognized by a jury from the prestigious American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Wanstreet, a junior in the architectural technology program (and also a music theory major), was notified on Tuesday, May 3, that he had won second place in the 2005 AIAS (Student) competition for designing a visitor center for the Monocacy Battlefield Site in Maryland. He received $1,500 and an additional $275 for the KSC student chapter of AIAS.

Illustration by Chad Wanstreet

The 2005 AIAS Park Visitor Center Competition challenged students to design a new visitor center for the Monocacy National Battlefield site, located outside of Frederick, Md. The program encouraged students to learn about materials, specifically plastics, and build knowledge about sustainability and “green building.”

Wanstreet submitted four 20-by-20 inch boards showing his design for the 26-acre site, including the visitor center, parking lot, memorial plaza, a footbridge across a river, a “river wall,” and a cornfield.

“It was daunting,” Wanstreet said about the project. He began by researching the Monocacy Battle and the landscape of the site, and then took maps of the battle and troop movements and sketched them on to the landscape, to get a sense of how design elements may be placed on the site.

Illustration by Chad Wanstreet

He decided to add elements such as a footbridge over railway lines to provide direct access to the Monocacy River (an important natural feature during the battle), a cornfield crossed by paths that indicate troop movements (complete with a viewing pavilion), a memorial plaza at the intersection of the cornfield paths, and a “river wall.” This wall, said Wanstreet, which is reminiscent of the form of the nearby waterway, divides the site into woodland and cultivated zones. The wall would be constructed from reflective plastic, which fulfills a competition requirement to include plastic material in the design.

“The judges were impressed with how Chad’s project responded to the land,” said Catherine Lux, director of member services for the AIAS. “The visitor center cut through the site, incorporating the land and surroundings into his project.” The judges, she said, also noted that Chad worked alone in producing his entry (the first place team from City College of New York had four members; the third place team from Savannah College of Art and Design two members). “We are very proud of Chad’s accomplishment,” said Donna Paley, assistant professor of architectural design, who critiqued Wanstreet’s entry. “When you look at the caliber of the competition, it’s clear Chad’s work must be of a very high standard.”

Wanstreet, who undertook the project as an independent study, said receiving the award still hasn’t quite sunk in. But, he said, he is happy to have achieved this recognition so early in his architectural education. He plans to spend the summer working for the Keene-based architecture firm Weller and Michal, before returning for his senior year at Keene State.

The winning projects will be exhibited this month at the 2005 AIA National Convention in Las Vegas.

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