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No Small Plans

Four students came to work in Hanbury's Norfolk office through our Summer Scholars Program. Aayush, a fifth-year Virginia Tech architecture student, was joined by fourth-year University of Virginia undergrad Ariana Arenius, and 2020 Masters of Architecture candidates Tianci Liang from the University of Michigan and Pedro Pinera Rodriguez from the University of North Carolina Charlotte.

It's hard to imagine how they accomplished all they did in just ten weeks. Their experience included: a design retreat to Atlanta, sketching sessions with our resident illustrator Wesley Page, construction site visits to the Virginia Beach Sports Center, design research in Washington DC, and weekly meetings with firm experts in areas of master planning, business and finance, design software, marketing, historic preservation and restoration, visual communication, and design.

While everyone particularly enjoyed the hands-on exploration of robotic fabrication with our Virginia Design Medalist Jonathan Grinham, for some, the daily work was the most rewarding. The foursome worked with Hanbury principals to create master plans for three significant and diverse developments—a college and two unique and historic sites—and present their solutions to the clients.

At one of the historic sites, the scholars were tasked with coming up with and visualizing ideas for a sweeping and historically acute redevelopment plan. To bring new life to the economic and social energy around the original structures, the team played with combinations of population densities, building massings, and amenities for locals and tourists that would generate enough profit to sustain the preservation of its heritage. The scholars' resulting comprehensive redevelopment plan divided the effort into phases and included two in-depth plans. In their final report, the scholars noted the overall impact of this work, "This design and planning exercise introduced us to the financial and logistical challenges that lie behind every drawing, adding a gravitas to the project not typically felt in academic studios."Hanbury principals engaged the scholars to re-evaluate the existing buildings, campus fabric and dive deeper into understanding the student experience to develop a better campus experience at Macalaster College. Through a careful review of current conditions of housing and student life, the scholars explored the campus and brought forth opportunities for design and innovation.

Tianci pointed to the second historic project in an iconic colonial area as the work he valued most during the program. Here, the scholars gave shape to two under-appreciated historic buildings that sit on an overused parking lot. The community tasked Hanbury and the Summer Scholars team with renovating this plot into a modern-day mix of residences, retail and offices, all the while keeping in touch with its colonial foundation and traditional sensibilities. The scholars investigated potential urban solutions at a macro level against the 21st century issues in an 18th century locale. Their inquiries spanned the scales of pedestrian circulation, civic plazas and courtyards, dialogue and debate with the community regarding unit size and composition, and interpretation of classical details and the human proportion. In their final report, the scholars summarized the project, "As an intellectual exercise, the project showed the creative infinity we can delve into to represent ourselves. It taught us our responsibility as architects to be tenacious and creative enough to represent us and our values in another light, yet still be true to ourselves. This project demanded discipline." For Tianci, the project offered more, "People at Hanbury are so nice and patient to help and encourage me to overcome the challenges I met on this project. I learned so much, and Hanbury helped me to become more confident and efficient. It’s definitely a perfect architectural firm for people to think, to learn, and to grow!"

Ariana found lessons in a less expected place, "What I enjoyed most about the program was the opportunity to learn and grow not just with Hanbury, but alongside other students who brought their individual talents and insights. It’s amazing to see what students are learning and producing at different schools, and for us, at different stages of life."

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