To engage in design is to commit to making a place, an object, or a situation better. Students from the IAD Department were laser focused on that objective on February 11 in a hands-on event intending to brainstorm design ideas to a local space in Tallahassee. These students joined students in architecture from Florida A&M University and the middle school students at R. Frank Nims Middle School in a three-hour charrette problem-solving experience. As conceived by IAD faculty Stephanie Sickler, Kelley Robinson and Meghan Mick, these diverse teams wrestled with designing a solution for the central outdoor space at the middle school. The challenge was to create an alternative area for students, teachers, and staff to enjoy, and to show off the creativity and spirit of the Nims community. Six groups made up of the college and middle school pre-law students were presented with specific needs in the courtyard, such as space for groups to gather, space for eating outdoors, space for reading, rest, and mental recharging, and space for learning outdoors. With the help of FSU and FAMU faculty, they assembled creative solutions for the courtyard space over a three- hour period presented on large sheets of kraft paper for all to see.
The event provided placed the interior design and architecture students into a place of leadership, facilitating the discussions and encouraging their young team members to voice their thoughts. In turn, the middle school students experienced the potential of design to make their school and their learning experience better. A relationship between college and middle school faculty and administrators laid some intriguing groundwork for the dialogue to continue.
Later that afternoon, FSU IA&D students participated in a guest speaker presentation. George Bandy, Jr. is a national thought leader whose current and prior associations include the United States Green Building Council, Amazon, Mohawk, and Interface. Bandy engaged students in a dynamic conversation about the intersections of sustainability, diversity, human and economic wealth with the goals of fostering cross-disciplinary thinking and problem-solving within their current and future designs.
Altogether, it was a very full day of collaboration, creativity and possibility, with mindfulness of the challenges that face our culture. It is exciting to think that future IAD students might include R. Frank Nims Middle School students whose aspirations for their future might now include design practice.