2010 Laskey Award

Presentation board for "100+," submitted by Akshita Sivakumar and Stephen Kim.

2010 Laskey Award winners announced

Posted by Katherine Welsch March 22, 2010

Second-year graduate architecture students Akshita Sivakumar and Stephen Kim have been named the winners of the 2010 Laskey Award.

Given annually by Studio L, the Laskey Award is a design creativity grant that honors Professor Emeritus Leslie Laskey, who shared his singular approach to design education during his 35-year tenure at Washington University. Working individually or in teams, students propose solutions to a particular design challenge, and the winner receives an award of up to $5,000 to fund the realization of their project.

Laskey himself developed the problem for this year's competition. Students were asked to develop an exhibit that investigated topics of re-use, recycling, re-styling, and re-thinking, and were encouraged to design and consider objects, environments, structures, gardens, and/or landscapes as part of their exploration.

"The jury was very impressed with the quality and variety of submissions, all professional in their approach and communicative in their presentation," said Dennis Cope, member of the Studio L Board of Governors.

Titled "100+," the project devised by Sivakumar and Kim challenges the idea that a mere recitation of statistics about the environment and sustainable living will induce citizens to take action.

"Our inspiration lay in taking the idea of local sustainability beyond the recycling of materials, to the exchange, assimilation, and recycling of ideas," they explained.

They proposed an interactive, multi-functioning, modular exhibition system that consists of two parts: a "parent" exhibit that will be displayed at a location with great public visibility, and "satellite" mini-exhibits that will travel to numerous St. Louis Public Schools. The system itself is highly portable, utilizing Sonotubes® that, when collapsed into themselves, "capture the whimsy of rolling a wheel down the street," according to Sivakumar. View their presentation board

Citizens are encouraged to contribute to the exhibit in multiple ways, such as writing down their ideas about leveraging local resources for sustainable living (growing food, eating locally, re-purposing used goods, etc.) on recycled soup cans housed smaller, embedded tubes in the system.

The hope is that, by engaging citizens with the exhibit and including younger students in the dialogue, the system will close the loop between exhibit, community, and action. By asking people to share their ideas and read others' "success stories," the students hope enthusiasm will build among community members, and they will be encouraged to try some of the ideas themselves.

The next step for Sivakumar and Kim is to evaluate the various components of their interactive system in greater detail, working under the guidance of Studio L and a faculty advisor, and to talk with contacts at local schools about participating. The students anticipate completing construction of the project by the end of July.

In addition to the 2010 Laskey Award, two honorable mentions were given in this year's competition, to graduate architecture students Roberto Jaime Deseda and Bethany Mahre.

Deseda's project, titled "Digital Waste," proposed a student exhibition that would give excess materials and waste produced in the Digital Fabrication studios a second life, turning them into new creations that would quantify the amount of waste produced in studios. Deseda was the joint winner of the 2009 Laskey Award with Justin Beadle. View Deseda's presentation board

Mahre's proposal, "Consumer Couture," called for an exhibition featuring a collection of wearable constructs, each of which would highlight an area in which waste and re-use is particularly relevant (e.g. technological waste, food packaging, etc.).
View Mahre's presentation board

Betty Liu was the recipient of this year's book prize, awarded to a submission by a freshman or sophomore architecture student. Liu, a freshman, worked with juniors Dustin Garness and Frank Hu on the entry "Replanting Bottles: Portable Architecture for Sustainable Living." View their presentation board

All of the award winners will be acknowledged at the all-school Architecture meeting at 4p on Friday, April 30.