The Catholic University of America

Joseph Binck

Architecture Major Builds Custom Furniture

Joseph Binck, a senior architecture major from Valley Forge, Pa., was always in his uncle’s carpentry shop as a child. He spent years creating small wooden swords. Today, he still spends most of his time over the summer in that same shop, but he’s making more than just toy swords.

Binck designed and built a butcher block table two years ago, his favorite piece yet. The whole table is made of wood, and the top, which resembles a checker board, is a specially designed cutting board.

He attempted to sell the table, but his mom, proud of his work, had other plans. She struck a deal with him — if the table did not sell by the time Binck’s brother got engaged, Binck must instead give the table as a wedding present. The table is still in the family and Binck’s brother was recently married.

“It’s in my family,” said Binck, who is one of five children, about carpentry. “My dad and my uncle have been my biggest influences.”

Binck was drawn to Catholic University’s architecture and planning program because he thought it would be a nice complement to his passion for building.

“The biggest way architecture has helped me with my carpentry is with learning the design process,” he said.

“Joe takes his design process and craft seriously and it shows in the models and drawings that he produces,” said Matthew Geiss, a lecturer in the School of Architecture and Planning. “He is well respected by both peers and faculty alike. It is truly a pleasure to have Joe in my studio.”

Binck’s skills landed him a job with the Department of Drama as a carpenter and electrician. He had enjoyed building sets at his high school so he decided to enroll in a technical theater course during freshman year at CUA. He was hired after completing the course.

This semester marks his third year at the job, and now Binck is doing more than just building. Tom Donahue, professor of drama and a set designer, asked Binck to be his assistant designer for one of the department’s fall productions, La Perdida. In addition to his job with the drama department, Binck volunteers his time as co-set designer, co-technical director, and master carpenter with Centerstage, the student-run theater group on campus.

Binck has another passion for theater that doesn’t involve designing or building sets — performance. He has been in 10 shows since he discovered his love for the stage during sophomore year of high school.

“I didn’t even know I could sing until I was in high school,” he said with a laugh.

Binck also played leading roles in Assassins and Company, two musicals produced by Centerstage.

This past summer, Binck was in his first professional production at Act II Playhouse in Ambler, Pa. He helped design two sets there previously.

Last spring, Binck said he refined his designing abilities while studying abroad in Rome with the School of Architecture and Planning. He had a field sketching class twice a week for four hours. The class visited different parts of the city and sketched famous sites.

“The great thing about the architecture program in Rome was we traveled all the time with class,” he said.

Looking ahead, Binck said he hopes to complete a year of service with his high school following Commencement in May.

“The plan is to eventually own my own business designing and building something,” Binck said.

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Joseph Binck

Hometown: Valley Forge, Pa.

Major: Architecture

Favorite course: Architectural Design 4

Favorite piece of furniture he’s made: butcher block table

Favorite part in a play: Freddie from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Favorite cities he traveled to while abroad: Vienna and Amsterdam