The Catholic University of America

Jan. 20, 2006

CUA Initiative Provides Workplace Experience for Architecture Students

Collaborative Offers Pro Bono Design Services

Students at Catholic University's School of Architecture and Planning are gaining valuable workplace experience under a new initiative called CUA design collaborative or CUAdc, which offers classroom instruction while providing pro bono design services to non-profit and community groups.

In December, the collaborative finished plans for renovating a public school library. Now, several students are creating an installation for the Society for Neuroscience headquarters in Washington, D.C., using state-of-the art technology, said Michelle Rinehart, an assistant dean of architecture and co-founder of the collaborative along with Assistant Professor Luis Eduardo Boza and Visiting Assistant Professor David Shove-Brown.

The first set of students to participate in the collaborative worked as an independent study group in fall 2005 and developed plans to redesign the antiquated library at Stuart Hobson Middle School in Northeast Washington.

By the end of the fall semester, the independent study students had not only produced renovation plans for the library but also had learned how the architecture business really works, said Shove-Brown, who co-taught the course with Boza and Rinehart.

"My students were dealing with real clients and real issues," said Shove-Brown. "They came up with ideas and worked with a budget, rather than something that will never be built."

Their project was one of eight public school library renovations commissioned by the Washington Architectural Foundation in conjunction with the Capitol Hill Community Foundation's Schools Library Project. Shove-Brown, who graduated from CUA in 1995 with a bachelor's of science in architecture, also served as project manager for the design work at all the schools.

Shove-Brown has served as a volunteer with the Washington Architectural Foundation's Architecture in the Schools program, which matches architects with teachers in public school classrooms to help children learn about the world around them in a hands-on, three-dimensional way.

Since December, 10 CUA students, under Boza's supervision, have been using the architecture and planning school's sophisticated CAD-CAM technology and a new milling machine to fabricate 16 contoured panels that will be assembled into a three-story installation for the lobby of the Society for Neuroscience building in Northwest Washington.

The CAD-CAM technology allows for the direct transfer of information contained in a three-dimensional virtual model to a computer-controlled machine that does the fabrication. With the technology, users can create complex forms that once were extremely challenging to build by hand.

The installation, based on a painting titled "Neural Network" by Cuban neuroscientist and artist Santiago Ramón y Cajal, is scheduled to be set up at the end of March.

CUA's architecture and planning school is the only one in the D.C. area that offers instruction using such advanced CAD-CAM technology. In fact, there are only a few architectural firms in the area that have the technology, says Dean Randall Ott.

"The new course and the technology we have at Catholic University allow our students to learn in a cutting-edge environment that will serve them well when they enter the workplace," Ott said.

CUAdc is being offered as a course in the spring 2006 semester.

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The School of Architecture and Planning at The Catholic University of America is the largest architecture school in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Students design in an exciting studio environment on campus while utilizing the nation's capital as an architecture laboratory. The school awards degrees that include the Bachelor of Science in architecture after four years of study, the Master of Architecture first professional degree after an additional year and a half, and a post-professional Master of Architectural Studies. The school also offers study experiences abroad as well as a joint degree program with the Department of Civil Engineering. CUA is one of only three Catholic universities in the United States that offers an accredited degree program in architecture and the only one of the three that also offers a minor in architecture through the School of Arts and Sciences.

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Media contact(s):
· Chris Harrison, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600, harrisoc@cua.edu
· Katie Lee, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600, leect@cua.edu