Fifty Sam Fox School students gathered on a Saturday morning in February for the annual Laskey Charrette. The weekend-long design competition asks teams of architecture, art, and design students to respond to a prompt using provided or campus-found materials to create a design, then make a brief presentation to a jury.
The evening before the charrette began, acclaimed theater director Robert Wilson—best known for works like Einstein on the Beach with composer Philip Glass, as well as the experimental theater company The Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds—gave a guest lecture. “The reason I work as an artist,” said Wilson, “is to ask questions. I focus on what it is rather than that it is.” He went on to share stories from his early life along with primary influences on his work.
Wilson closed his lecture by recounting an assignment from an architecture course he took with Sybil Moholy-Nagy. “She said, ‘students, take out your pencils, you have three minutes to design a city.’ I drew an apple,” said Wilson, “and inside the apple was a crystal cube in its core. I was thinking what our communities need is something like a crystal in the center in which our universe could be reflected.” Wilson commented that this assignment was the most important from all of his 22 years of formal education. It’s also the assignment shared with participants of this year’s Laskey Charrette.
Day 1: work day
Day 1: work day
Day 1: work day
As soon as the theme was given students began by individually sketching their ideas for three minutes. Following the initial sketch, they gathered with their teams the next morning to commit to one design. “It was frenetic, it was joyful,” said Constance Vale, assistant professor and chair of undergraduate architecture, “I love watching the students figure out how to balance their ideas with forming connections with their teammates with being competitive.” Wilson was also part of the scene, visiting briefly with each team and providing desk critiques and sketches as they discussed each project.
The resulting 14 projects were displayed in Steinberg Gallery the following afternoon. The jury included Studio L board members Dennis Cope, Warren Ashworth, Angelyn Chandler, and John Kleinschmidt, along with Heather Woofter, director of the College of Architecture and Sam and Marilyn Fox Professor; Constance Vale, assistant professor and chair of undergraduate architecture; and Patricia Olynyk, Florence and Frank Bush Professor of Art. The jury awarded first, second, and third prizes, along with two honorable mentions.
Day 2: judging day
2023 Laskey Charrette Winners
The first prize went to Destination by Jiahe Jin (BS25), Erica Miller (BS25), and Mia Tremblay (BA25). “Destination revolves mainly around the conceptualization of a city through the intertwining paths of individuals. Each person within a community is on their own path of life, yet they contribute to the city in distinctive ways. Each curve oscillates with no identifiable beginning or end, and no indication of hierarchy. This is a representation of the continuity of life and how we live within our cities and communities … Each möbius strip finds itself gently colliding with another, conveying the cruciality of interconnectedness within communal settings.” As the piece was presented, Erica and Mia walked throughout the audience, reciting a poem three times at varying intervals, while Jiahe painted freely on the canvas. “This way, our piece engages the entirety of the space and provides three-dimensionality to the words themselves as well as our concept of a city. Our performance constructs a sense of community amongst the viewers, breaking the wall of separation between audience and presenters/performers. The physical symbol of infinity in the model and the performance come together as one whole.”
Second prize went to Heliotrope by Julia Bernat (BS25), Declan Dill (BS25), Linda Li (BS25), and Jason Wang (BS25). “Roots signify stability, support, and a means of life. We believe this is what cities should be—a nourishing and sustainable measure to the natural world, rather than a detrimental one. In cities today, nature is neglected and depleted of its resources. Instead, we want to reimagine our current structures by flipping this reality upside-down and constructing a stronger means of developing a city.”
Third place was awarded to Formation by Mona Li (BS25), Kevin O’Neill (BS25), Edward Yu (BS25), and Tina Zang (BS25). An honorable mention was given to The Fleeting City by Lillie Boero (BS25), Ethan Loderstedt (BS25), and McKale Thompson (BS25), as well as The Cone of Light by Dylan Barry-Schoen (BS25), Isa Cymrot (BS25), Max Liu (BS25), and Christina Oates (BFA25).
1st place winner
2nd place winner
3rd place winner