SAC Architecture Program 2020 Sophomore Design Competition Students honored with virtual reception

May 20, 2020

Sonny Melendrez - Community Engagement Consultant

Six outstanding San Antonio College graduating sophomore design students were honored virtually for their winning entries of this year’s annual design competition. The project: a new Mission District Interpretive Gateway and Community Center to help orient visitors to the many natural, historical, and cultural resources comprising the World Heritage District and to provide community amenities to a traditionally underserved region of San Antonio. 

Event History
The SAC architecture program has a long tradition of holding a concluding six-week long capstone sophomore competition for all of its graduating sophomore design studios.  At the conclusion of those six weeks, the projects would be presented in the Chance Academic Center hallways and invited jurors from around the city and state selected the top six projects – first, second and third prizes as well as three honorable mentions.

Afterward, those six projects, along with additional Faculty Choice projects, were moved physically to the San Antonio American Institute of Architecture’s Center for Architecture where the works were publicly exhibited and recognized at a closing reception the following evening.

Virtual Pivot
COVID-19 created a significant challenge to this spring tradition and it would have been easy to abandon it in the face of both, losing one full week and students having to work from home remotely with only their individual laptops to rely upon.  But both architecture program sophomores and faculty pledged steadfastly to soldier on despite these challenges.  

Adjunct faculty led by Christopher Verette discovered a virtual exhibit gallery usually used by university art departments, and appropriated it for the 45 student Virtual Exhibition Boards to be displayed.  Invited jurors from the University of Houston, Texas Tech, University of Texas, San Antonio, and the co-director of San Antonio’s Latinos in Architecture group all agreed to view the gallery and make successive nights of virtual selections until the final six winning entries were determined.  

The San Antonio Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA SA) pledged to produce a live webinar virtual reception for which 108 members of the professional and academic communities were registered. Then, on the evening of Thursday, May 14, a Zoom webinar was held and all exhibiting students, their faculty and jurors were on hand to honor at the publicly attended the online event. 

Visit the Virtual Gallery here

Competition Winners:
1) First Prize ($500 sponsored by Latinos in Architecture - LiA) - Mitzi Chairez Rodriguez

2) Second Prize ($250) - Diana de la Trinidad

3) Third Prize ($100) - Ashton Ezell

4) Honorable Mention ($50) - Nixon Maldonado

5) Honorable Mention ($50) - Blue Davis

6) Honorable Mention ($50) - Baraa Abdolkarim-Gamboa

Invited Jurors:
1) Luis Ahumada - Co-Director Latinos in Architecture - An AIA Member Group

2) Sedef Doganer/Armando Araiza - UTSA Architecture Chair and Assistant Chair

3) Dietmar Froehlich - University of Houston Assistant Dean Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture

4) Darrick Wade - Texas Tech University Assistant Dean of External Affairs

Adjunct Full-time/part-time faculty member Christopher Verette, who worked tirelessly choreographing and curating the entire exhibit gallery, was emcee. Exceptional support also came from Torrey Carleton, director of AIA SA, who also served as webinar host, Deborah Martin from Alamo Colleges and Belinda Sanchez, communications & events manager, AIA SA. Without all, the virtual reception would never have been possible.

Architecture Program Coordinator Dwayne Bohuslav said, “COVID 19 be damned, but social distancing respected, the 2020 Sophomore Design Competition Virtual Reception continued the San Antonio College architecture program’s tradition in a novel way!”

Interested in design? Explore your possibilities at San Antonio College.


Photo caption: SAC architecture student Nixon Maldonado working on his sophomore design competition project at home.