CBU architecture student wins top spot in design award
Riverside, Calif. (Feb. 1, 2023) – Tabatha Lee Coronado, a graduate architecture student, has received first place in the Coalition for Adequate School Housing’s (CASH) Student Design Awards with her elementary school design.
Coronado originally worked on the project as a class assignment last semester, which prompted students to design a hypothetical K-6 elementary school for the Riverside area. As she worked, Coronado focused on the technical aspects of the school while also giving care to color choices and incorporating nature into the design.
“I’m a very technical person,” Coronado said. “With the elementary school, I used mainly a vector analysis where we took different vectors — different lines — and repeated them through the site that we were given, so that really drove the form of the building itself.”
Keelan Kaiser, professor of architecture and program director of architecture, was Coronado’s professor for the course, Design Studio VII (ARC 510). He said he challenged his students to pay special attention to incorporating ecology into their designs. While there are many methods to accomplishing this — gardens positioned outside windows and plants in classrooms — Kaiser said Coronado’s novel approach to incorporating greenspaces into the design made her project stand out.
“Think of a school as a long, continuous line of classrooms and they all have to be connected by a hallway. She organized her long string of classrooms around outdoor spaces, which had a dual function of creating natural spaces within the school,” Kaiser said.
Coupled with her professional execution and her attention to safety in the school design, Kaiser was impressed with the project and encouraged Coronado to apply for the award.
Throughout the process of honing her design, Coronado’s largest challenge was overcoming her own self-doubt.
“[I struggled with] a lot of discouragement with comparing myself to classmates and thinking they’re so much better than I am,” Coronado said. “But I surrounded myself with new people who really encouraged me throughout the semester, so I think that really helped a lot just to push me. And [Professor Kaiser] was really great at encouraging us.”
By working on this project and receiving first place in the competition, Coronado gained confidence in her skills, she said. This confidence culminated in a successful final review, during which she presented her finished project.
“We presented in front of one of the biggest panels of people that our professors have ever invited from outside CBU faculty,” Coronado said. “I practiced and I repeated my presentation for the longest time. I stood up there, I didn’t miss a beat and it was one of my best presentations ever, so that was a really great feeling.”
As the winner of the award, Coronado received a $1,000 scholarship and the opportunity to travel to a conference in Sacramento on Feb. 22-25 to present her project to attendees and architects. However, the experience also had a much larger impact on her, influencing her future career goals.
“I used to want to work on high-end custom homes, but I really enjoyed last semester and learning about school design,” Coronado said. “I think in the future I would like to work on educational buildings.”