Screw those architects, use CALA students

Black Frances

In an effort to save money, University students will design all campus buildings, University officials revealed Friday.

The program, which has already produced designs for buildings like the Gateway alumni center and the Weisman Art Museum, will save the University millions of dollars, said University President Mark Yudof.

“Under normal circumstances, we’d pay an architectural firm hundreds of thousands of dollars to design our buildings,” he said. “In this program, however, we can require first-year architecture majors to design them without paying them anything.”

The program is a good opportunity for students who are interested in architecture to experience the real thing, said Thomas Fisher, dean of the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

“If they’re not sure architecture is the right career for them, this is a good way to find out,” he said. “Besides, it just makes sense – students designing buildings for other students. Who else knows what students really want?”

University junior Melvin Gallahan, who designed the Gateway alumni center, said he modeled his plans after the Death Star battle station seen in the 1977 movie “Star Wars.”

“My friends and I really wanted to bring a part of the Galactic Empire to the University,” said Gallahan, who designed the building with fellow members of the University student role-playing group Galactic Empire ROTC. “If Anakin Skywalker came to the University, I think he’d be pretty comfortable here.”

University sophomore Joe Johnston said his plans for the new CALA building fell flat.

“I was going to make it be like Frank Lloyd Wright. Or maybe Steven Wright. Or was it the Wright brothers?” he said. “Anyway, I didn’t do the reading, so I just made it up.”

Other students, like University graduate Gina Thompson, said they let their creativity guide them while making their designs.

“I have ADD, so sometimes I get distracted when I’m doing something,” said Thompson, who designed the Weisman Art Museum. “I’d draw part of it and leave, then I’d come back and just draw something else on another part of the building. … Hey! Is that a panda?”

There are some glitches in the program, Fisher said. For instance, he said, there is no time limit for designing buildings.

University senior Guy Sampson, president of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws student group, has been designing Coffman Union for the past several years. He said he’s almost ready to start work on it, if he could just sober up.

“Well, I know I’ve gotta do it eventually, but it’s just a lot of work,” Sampson said. “Sometimes it’s just easier to sit back and, you know, instead. I bet if I was sober I’d get it done real fast.”

On the whole, Yudof said, the program has already been very successful.

“At the rate we’re expanding, we could have dozens of buildings like this all over the University,” he said.

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