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Contact Information: Tanya Klein Public Relations 973-596-3433

High School Students Win an Unusual Design Contest at NJIT

A group of high school students from New Jersey, New York and Maryland won an architectural design competition held recently at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).

It was a design competition with an unusual twist: The students had to design and build a meditation room out of nothing more than cardboard boxes – UPS boxes –  and scotch tape.

The winning team included Julian Shafter, Westfield; Brittany Chapman, Cinnaminson; Andrew Dourgarian, Chester; Chris Lindstrom, Waldorf, Md.; Danny Lou, Staten Island, N.Y.

The team was selected because of its superior design for the room, which included two curved walls, an open window and a door frame, said Darius Sollohub, an assistant professor at the New Jersey School of Architecture who judged the student projects. Though built entirely from medium-sized UPS boxes, the winning room looked had the look and feel of a small study in a house that one would visit to read or think.

“They won because of the clarity of their design idea and elegant solution they came up with in the building process,” said Sollohub.

A total of 17 students were divided into teams of four to work on the meditation rooms. The student projects were displayed inside the School of Architecture building, and a jury of architects evaluated the four rooms and selected the above-listed team.

The project was part of the New Jersey School of Architecture’s Summer Architecture Career Exploration Program. Students spent two-days at the school attending design, computer graphics and drawing classes. The program aimed to give high school students a sense of what it is like to attend architecture school. 

“It’s thrilling for students to see something they build come to life,” Sollohub said. “Constructing a room out of boxes means first sketching the room, then building it with teammates and then modifying it as the building takes place. That pretty much encapsulates the college design experience. “If they get a thrill from that process they can be sure they will like architecture school,” he said.

The New Jersey School of Architecture is one of the largest degree-accredited architecture schools in the country, granting both bachelor's and master's degrees in architecture. It is the only architecture school in New Jersey offering the bachelor's degree in architecture and is a national leader in the integration into the studio curriculum of computer-aided design (CAD).

One of the nation's leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT's multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of more than 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering, and cyber-security, in addition to others. NJIT ranks 5th among U.S. polytechnic universities in research expenditures, topping $110 million, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com.