Design students pitch ideas to renovate Elder patio


Source: Twitter

Students in McCormick’s Industrial Design Projects class proposed different ways to redesign the Elder Hall patio to Residential Services. The class met with members of the Elder community to determine possible ways to utilize the space.

Annie Bruce, Reporter

Last week students from the Industrial Design Projects class presented ideas to several members of the Division of Student Affairs and Design and Construction to redesign Elder Hall’s patio space, near the building’s Colfax Street entrance. 

Members of Residential Services approached industrial design Prof. John Hartman about having his students pitch ideas for the patio area after learning that Hartman’s class submitted ideas last year for the Block Museum of Art’s new visitor lounge, the Block Spot.

Bradley Zakarin, the director of Residential Academic Initiatives, said the Elder project has resulted in an energizing collaboration between the students, Hartman and other members of the Northwestern community.

“My new office, Residential Academic Initiatives, is always looking for ways to involve faculty coursework in the residential spaces on campus,” Zakarin said. “The students of Design 380 have given decision makers a lot of food for thought and some design concepts that hadn’t really occurred to anyone yet that involve not just the exterior space as it now is, but also its relationship to surrounding interior spaces.”

Students from the design class, which is part of the Segal Design Institute at NU, met with members of the Elder community earlier in the year to see what they pictured for the patio space.

At last week’s meeting, Hartman said students pitched about 12 to 15 ideas, which ranged from garden themes to playground ideas to incorporating a glass box that would be illuminated at night.

“Each one was compelling in its own way,” Zakarin said. “I think by the end of the night, people were imagining different ways to synthesize different components of different pitches to come up with some really interesting thoughts about what could be done.”

The meeting, which Hartman said lasted almost an hour longer than the scheduled 90 minutes, had a huge impact on his students.

After getting feedback related to budgeting, architecture and community feel, the design students will now spend time revising ideas and present them again at the end of Spring Quarter.

Hartman, who teaches the two-quarter Industrial Design class sequence, said working to design spaces on campus gives students a unique opportunity.

“The ability to have an audience that would listen to them and those people are actually the ones that could potentially take it and make it real, it’s just exciting, and it adds an amazing dimension to the class,” he said.

Sofi King, one of the students in the class, pitched an indoor greenhouse idea for the patio space that would be accessible throughout the entire year. She said she enjoyed being able to work on a project that would impact the entire community.

“The class designs a lot of things, but to have something that would actually have an impact on Northwestern and that students could use was super exciting,” the Weinberg junior said.

Even though the exact plans for the patio space are still unclear, Zakarin said meeting with the design students has given members of Student Engagement and the Office of Design and Construction a lot of ideas going forward. The collaboration is one he hopes to continue in the future.

“I think about every year giving (Hartman) one or more projects that he can do right here on campus,” Zakarin said. “I can’t think of a better outcome over the next couple of years than to have new spaces or rehabilitated spaces on campus where we can put up a sign that says designed by Northwestern students for Northwestern students.”

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