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Architecture News

COD Architecture Student Takes Second in National Community College Design Competition

College of DuPage student Monica Basili earned second place in a national competition sponsored by the Coalition of Community College Architecture Programs (CCCAP) for her design of a community resource center.

The Westmont resident began working on her project in Professor of Architecture Mark Pearson’s studio design course. He gave all of his students an opportunity to enter the contest by asking them to create a community resource center, which the CCCAP selected as this year’s competition project.

“My classmates and I each designed a center over the span of 10 weeks,” Basili said. “By the end of the semester, we presented our work to a panel of reviewers who were COD alumni, professors from other schools and professional architects. They then voted for the projects that would be entered. A total of six students were chosen to compete, and I was one of them.

“My second-place finish in this competition was very exciting because it gave me confidence in my work and my designs.”

Pearson said Basili’s work has been consistently strong and was especially so for this project.

“Monica is a talented architectural design student,” he said. “She developed a very sophisticated design response to the competition program, and we are thrilled to see her recognized for her outstanding design work.”

The experience validated Basili’s choice for a career, as she initially was unsure of what path to take when she began attending COD. During her first semester, she enrolled in science and art classes.

“I became interested in architecture because it seemed like a major that valued art and creativity as well as math and physics,” she said. “COD made it easy to decide what field to go into, and my second year at COD was when I took my first architecture studio class.”

Having earned her Associate in Applied Science degree in Pre-Architecture Technology, Basili is transferring to the Illinois Institute of Technology. She then plans to work as an architect in Chicago, where she hopes to contribute to the city’s distinctive architecture.

Her advice to students who want to study architecture is to not give up or get discouraged.

“The design process takes time, and the professors are there to push you to do your best,” she said. “My architecture professors at COD gave me great love and appreciation for architecture. I am confident in the education I received at COD and that it will help me after I transfer.” -- Summer 2021


Two COD Alumni Gain Experience in Urban Design Through the Illinois School of Architecture’s Prestigious Chicago Studio

Two College of DuPage Architecture program alumni are gaining invaluable experience in urban design as part of the Illinois School of Architecture’s Chicago Studio, a semester-long residential immersion in the Chicago architectural scene typically exclusive to graduate students.

Akash Mattu of Naperville and Michael Rivera of Wheaton, who are currently undergraduate students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, are part of a spring project that focuses on the Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.

“Our job is to work with firms, developers and the community to create a cohesive plan to revitalize Woodlawn, which used to have a population of 120,000 but is now at 30,000,” Rivera said. “With the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) slated for construction just a couple of blocks away, the concern is that the OPC will not have the beneficial effect that people were hoping for and will instead service only those closest to Hyde Park. Even worse, the OPC could bring about gentrification, pushing out an already hurting community.”

One reason that attracted Mattu to the Chicago Studio was its format. In a traditional studio setting, he said a student only interacts with the professor in a majority of cases.

“This is the disconnect between architectural schooling and professional practice. In an undergraduate studio, almost all of the projects are individual whereas in the profession, you work in a team setting,” he said. “The Chicago Studio is giving me more experience in putting a building together with the help of professionals.”

As a result, Mattu is enjoying the dynamics of a group approach. For this particular assignment, he is learning how to respect the context of a project.

“It was honestly surprising to see how tight-knit the community was, even after facing such hardships,” he said. “A lot of what I learned about the community from talking to local leaders and residents hugely impacted how I went about designing my buildings.”

Rivera enjoyed learning about urban design, streetscape and addressing the pedestrian experience due to the unique aspects of the project.

“We tackled new problems that had previously been unaddressed in my past studio courses, where we were usually given a set of required programs and their respective sizes to fit into our building,” he said. “Here we were given the freedom to choose what we wanted to design based on what we as individuals thought would best serve Woodlawn and increase density. 

“The students were also pushed to reach out to local developers and city officials to try and coordinate design and make sure the project was grounded in reality. There wasn’t a whole lot of handholding. Our professor would make introductions and from there, the students would take charge. The Illinois School of Architecture’s outreach allowed us to work with the mayor’s office, the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, and local developers. We also met with various product manufacturers who walked us through potential integrations with our designs.”

In addition to the Chicago Studio experience, Rivera is also excited about the Urban Morphology Seminar, another graduate-level course at the Illinois School of Architecture that is providing him with a holistic understanding of urban design in the context of urban areas around the world. He plans to use his newly gained knowledge in a career that supports local or disadvantaged communities.

“I don’t believe a lot of undergraduates get exposure to this sort of education and, more importantly, these connections, so I definitely believe it will help me post-undergrad as I apply it to my future career,” he said.

Mattu’s career goals include becoming a licensed practicing architect and entering the real estate development sector. He hopes to apply his experience in the Chicago Studio to his professional career through buildings that help communities grow by responding to their needs.

“There’s a huge variety of problems that architects can address, but the people who have the real power to change the construction industry are the developers,” he said. “I hope to provide real estate professionals an insight into why social equity as well as sustainability should be incorporated into their projects and how to create buildings with positive impacts on the surrounding communities.” 

Mattu cannot stress enough how well the Architecture program at COD prepared him for transfer and his future career.

“Going to COD was a great decision and I have not looked back once. I really appreciate the job they did preparing me for the next steps in my educational journey and I would urge anyone contemplating the architecture path to seriously consider College of DuPage.” -- Spring 2021


COD Architecture Alumna Helps Transform McCormick Place Into Alternative Care Facility for COVID-19 Patients

In just two weeks, hundreds of workers converted McCormick Place from a convention center to a medical facility with 2,250 rooms to treat COVID-19 patients. College of DuPage Architecture alumna Michelle Binet had the unique experience of working on the design team as an architectural designer at AECOM where she works full-time.

“My team and I, along with hundreds of others, including the Illinois National Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers, worked non-stop trying to get everything designed and constructed before the first wave of patients arrived,” she said. “I’ve never worked on a project quite like this. It has been incredibly rewarding to see a project come to fruition this quickly with the help of so many hardworking and passionate people.”

Binet’s main responsibilities included architectural drafting and design, code review and managing accessibility requirements for different parts of the building, including entry and exit cleaning rooms, staff lounges and medical locker rooms. In addition, she helped redesign meeting rooms to meet the needs of the support staff which include the mayor’s office and houses the facilities command centers.

With construction nearing completion, contracted medical personnel are already treating COVID-19 positive patients with low to moderate symptoms. By the end of April, 3,000 beds will be available to treat patients, as well as 500 negative pressure tents that bring in clean air and stop air inside the tent from escaping, Binet said.

“Hopefully we won’t have to use all the beds and rooms available, but I’m glad to know we are helping patients who may need support,” she said. “Let’s all do our part in flattening the curve and reduce burden on the local healthcare systems.”

Binet credits her passion for architecture to her experience in COD’s Architecture program.

“The professors in the program created a studio family,” she said. “They created the foundation that I needed to push myself to be a better student and to stand on my own when I transferred to a bigger university. If not for the faculty at COD guiding me along the way, I don't know where I would be in my career.”

COD Architecture Professor Mark Pearson was impressed with Binet’s skills in the program and enjoys following her professional endeavors.  

“We are very extremely proud of our Architecture alumni, like Michelle, who are using their professional expertise to make a difference in our communities and helping to support our healthcare system during this global crisis,” he said. -- Spring 2020


Architecture Alumnus Returns to Alma Mater for Prominent Design Project

Beginning in 2021, the largest private collection of Frida Kahlo works, valued at more than $200 million, will be on display at College of DuPage’s McAninch Arts Center. To prepare for the three-month exhibition, the College’s Cleve Carney Museum of Art underwent a $3 million expansion to transition from a gallery into a museum complete with museum-grade LED lighting system, security system and climate control system to maintain the standards of the American Alliance of Museums.

COD Architecture alumnus Carmine Calabria had the unique opportunity to work on the design team for the expansion as an architectural designer at Wight & Company where he works full-time. 

“It felt as if yesterday I was walking by the McAninch Arts Center while construction on the gallery started,” Calabria said. “Now I’m a part of the team helping bring life to the new addition. It’s serendipitous to experience a place, like the MAC, at different points in my life and use that as a measure of self-awareness and growth.”

Designing a space to house such iconic artwork is an experience Calabria said he will never forget. The 26 pieces of Kahlo’s work, on loan from the Museo Dolores Olmedo, features an array of sketches and paintings spanning Kahlo’s storied career.

“I am humbled to be working on a design that is linked to the story of Frida Kahlo and her works,” he said. “It’s not very often you get the opportunity to work on these types of projects outside of school, let alone for Frida Kahlo’s work. It is an honor to be a part of helping create architecture that will be used as a backdrop to her story.”

The design project allowed Calabria to utilize the diverse skills he learned while enrolled in COD’s Architecture program.   

“Whether a project is high profile or not the same care and attention needs to be achieved and this is something that the COD Architecture program really reinforces,” he said. “The strong structure and clear focus of the program really caters to building a strong foundation of concepts and skills that students can take with them throughout their careers. The two main concepts that have stayed with me from my time at COD are process and iteration. I’ve found that they are most powerful when put together. Something extraordinary doesn’t come from trying something once and being satisfied with the results.”

After earning his Pre-Architecture Associate in Applied Science degree at COD, Calabria transferred to the Illinois Institute of Technology. Throughout college, Calabria worked at a UPS Store, and during his final year at IIT, he met the HR director of Wight & Company there. With a line of customers out the door, he handed her his resume and portfolio in hopes of securing a possible position after graduation. Instead, he was called for an interview the next day and hired as a part-time intern.

“What I didn't know when I was first hired was that Wight & Company designed a number of COD’s beautiful buildings,” he said. “It’s funny to think that I will have the opportunity to pay it forward by designing spaces that could make a difference in another student’s life.”

In reflection of where his life is today and how he got here, Calabria believes that patience is the most important virtue to practice in his work.

“Being patient and capitalizing on each project’s unique set of challenges will ultimately make you a better designer,” he said. “You have to be relentless in your efforts to achieve what you imagine because only you know what the end result will become. To be something extraordinary you don’t need to be the fastest, smartest, or the best at anything; your ability to adapt and iterate is the most valuable set of skills you can attain to get you there. It’s a valuable asset in the industry of architecture, in your studies as a student, and in life as a whole.” -- Winter 2020

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After earning a Pre-Architecture associate’s degree at College of DuPage, Michelle Binet transferred to Illinois Institute of Technology to complete her bachelor’s degree. While she says she felt prepared for the transition academically, the class sizes, compared to COD, were jarring.  

“IIT is a great school, but the classes can be so large that the professor might not know who you are or if you even came to class that day,” she said. “The professors in the COD Architecture program, specifically Jane Ostergaard and Mark Pearson, created a studio family. They created the foundation that I needed to push myself to be a better student and to stand on my own when I transferred.” 

Binet now works at AECOM, a global engineering firm in Chicago, as a lab designer in the science and technology department, working with high profile clients such as Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and DOW Chemical. 

“If not for the faculty at COD guiding me along the way, I don't know where I would be in my career,” she said. 

COD Architecture program Coordinator and Professor Jane Oestergaard says that providing individualized attention to each student is what makes the program unique. Her motivation stems from her own college experience.

“When I was a freshman in college, the architecture faculty brought me and my classmates into a lecture hall to give us an overview of the program and discuss expectations,” she said. “The program chair said, ‘Look to your right and to your left. Only one of you will graduate.’ And that was being generous because there were 40 students in my freshman class and only 19 of us graduated.”

While some large university and college architecture programs have a cut-throat attitude, Ostergaard and her fellow COD Architecture program faculty are focused on inclusion and helping each student reach their fullest potential. 

“We aren’t lowering the bar,” Ostergaard said. “We are giving students the tools they need to succeed to ensure they meet that bar. After leaving COD, students are going to be going into a program that has that intense competition, but we help them get there and achieve great success.”

Michael Sandrzyk, a recent COD Architecture program graduate, says the program’s educational standards parallel any prestigious university.

“The COD Architecture program is competitive, if not better, then most universities in the country,” he said. “When you transition to a four or five-year professional degree, you don't feel like you're behind and in a rush to catch up. In fact, I often found myself ahead of my peers.”

Sandrzyk, a licensed architect, works at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture in Chicago, specializing in mid-rise commercial and mixed-use design. He’s currently working on designing a 46-story office building in Toronto, as well as a performance theater on the north side of Chicago.

“COD provided me with the insight and resources I needed to push forward within the profession, and I haven't looked back since,” he said.

Kristina Sutulaite discovered that the hands-on experience was one of the Architecture program’s biggest assets.

“My professors made sure that every project allowed for my peers and I to explore our strengths while enhancing our understanding,” she said. “Most of what I learned was put to the test when I was asked to design and build models, create actual structures and demonstrate my understanding through physical materials. Not only was this the best method of comprehension, but I was faced with tasks and questions that pertain to architects every day.”

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in architecture from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Sutilaite landed a job as a design assistant for Soucie Horner, Ltd., working on both residential and commercial projects.

“I finished my journey at COD with much more than I imagined the school could offer me,” she said. “Not only has my passion for architecture reached new heights, but I learned time management, networking and problem-solving skills that are going to carry me through the remainder of my professional and personal life.”

Students gain not only career success from the program, but also a network and community of support.

“The COD community extends COD and we really emphasize this point,” Architecture Professor Mark Pearson said. “Not only do we invite alumni back each year for portfolio reviews, but every year, I bring students, who are transferring or thinking about transferring, to tour architecture studios and connect them with students and faculty in the department. They get pointers on the transition from COD to a big university.”

John Benoit, a licensed architect at EWP Architects in Oakbrook got his start at COD, and while several years have passed, he still feels a strong connection to the COD community.

“The COD Architecture program became the essential foundation in my life,” he said. “I learned my profession. I made the connection that got my first job. I met my wife and graduated debt-free in two years with the skills I needed to finish my degree at the top of my class. It’s unbelievable how tiny the world is and how connected our little COD family is becoming. I can't go two weeks without finding another connection, not to mention we now have three COD alumni working together in our office.”

Jairo Ortega, who serves on the COD Architecture program advisory committee, works as a construction manager for a real estate development company. He credits COD’s tight-knit community for his career success.

“Since graduating from COD, and with the help of the COD architecture faculty, the architecture community continues to keep in touch and help the next generation of architects,” Ortega said. “We continue to share our ideas and experiences to motivate each other to be the best that we can be. Outside of COD, I continue to successfully spread this sense of open-community at home and at work to develop teams for personal and professional endeavors. If it wouldn’t have been for COD and its community I wouldn’t be the leader that I am today.” -- Fall 2018

Seven College of DuPage Architecture students have received a 2017 Distinguished Project Merit Award from the American Institute of Architects Northeast Illinois Chapter for a gathering pavilion they designed, built and installed on campus in Glen Ellyn.

Located next to the McAninch Arts Center, the wooden open-air structure was called Umbra 82 by the students, who designed it to play with light and shadow. “Umbra” refers to the darkest part of a shadow, while 82 is the number of white boxes that are inset into the piece.

The students, who were honored at a recent event at the Elmhurst Art Museum, are Andrew Dunlop (Naperville), Arlinda Haxhiu (Lombard), Michael Keslinke (Downers Grove), Jose Maldonado (West Chicago), Drew Peterson (West Chicago), Malak Saadeh (Willowbrook) and Scott Sallmann (Glen Ellyn).

The project was the focus of an eight-week summer Design Build class in 2016 that was funded by a grant through the College Foundation’s Resource for Excellence program. Mark Pearson, Professor of Architecture at College of DuPage, said the class is distinctive because students actually construct their own project.

 “It was quite an honor for our students to be recognized for their creative work and achievements by practicing architects in our region,” he said. “It is also somewhat unique for a student project to win a professional design award such as this.

“As a fun footnote, Dirk Lohan, who is a noted Chicago architect as well as famed architect Mies van der Rohe’s grandson, was the jury chair for this year’s awards. So at the Elmhurst Art Museum, which is adjacent to Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House, our students were recognized for their creative work by Mies’ grandson. That is pretty cool!”

View photos of the gathering pavilion, View a video of its installation and for a time lapse of the construction phase. -- Fall 2017

Architect and former College of DuPage student Michael Pecirno is fascinated by the complexity that goes into planning, designing and building.

“When people think of architecture as a profession, their first inclination is either big skyscrapers or small homes, which are quite opposites,” he said. “Yet my interest in architecture was always more related to the complexity of urban systems – how each piece of architecture built contributes to a greater system in which we live.”

The former Bloomingdale resident and COD graduate is now working on those urban systems in London at Foster + Partners, one of the largest and most prestigious architectural firms in the world. He also was recently selected to participate in the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, North America’s largest international survey of contemporary architecture that will launch in October 2015.

In his new position at Foster + Partners as a design strategist, Pecirno combines skills in architecture, urban design and economics.

“My work involves designing for both small systems, such as the layout of an office building, and greater environments, such as exploring urban trends, markets and future ambitions,” he said.

It’s the culmination of a decade of schooling and work. However, when he graduated from high school, Pecirno wasn’t ready to commit to tuition and time at a four-year school when he wasn’t sure of what career to pursue.

He already was familiar with College of DuPage. As a youngster, he enjoyed several summer courses through the Youth Education program.

“It seemed natural to return, given the value and prior good experience,” he said. “COD afforded me an excellent opportunity to explore architecture and other disciplines within a flexible and supportive environment. What I found was that COD had a well-organized Architecture program with incredibly passionate professors.”

After finishing his associate’s degree in Pre-Architecture, Pecirno transferred to the University of Illinois at Chicago and earned his Bachelor of Science in Architecture. He then worked for several firms in both the U.S. and Canada before heading across the Atlantic to London, where he received a scholarship to the Royal College of Art to earn his Masters of Arts degree.

“After completing my two-year master’s degree, I really just wanted to work for a bit,” he said. “Two years without working doesn’t seem like much, but architecture is a fast moving and rapidly evolving discourse.”

In addition to his job, Pecirno is excited about being selected to participate in the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Although he cannot discuss the details of his involvement at this time, he is looking forward to working with the more than 100 architects, artists and designers who were selected for this event.  

Pecirno eventually would like to run his own practice that focuses on urban strategy. But right now he’s looking forward to the experience he will gain with Foster + Partners.

And he’s grateful for getting his start in architecture at College of DuPage.

“COD and its Architecture program are an incredible resource for exploring different careers and paths of study,” he said. “In particular, the Architecture program is staffed by wonderful teachers. New students shouldn’t be afraid to explore different courses to find out what they really enjoy doing.

“And my advice to new students is to not be intimidated by perceived discipline boundaries. While architecture can be explored entirely through architecture courses, what makes it really interesting is when other fields and areas of interest and disciplines inspire and drive the evolution of buildings and spaces.”

For more about Michael Pecirno, check out his website at -- Summer 2015

College of DuPage student Andres Pinto (far right) recently received a Student Merit Award from the Association of Licensed Architects (ALA) from Architecture professors Mark Pearson (left) and Jane Ostergaard. Pinto, of Wheaton, is the second COD to receive this honor. Pinto earned his Pre-Architecture Associate in Applied Science degree in 2015. He hopes to attend the University of Illinois and is active in the Army Reserves. -- Summer 2015

ArchDaily recently asked readers for the best examples of student work worldwide, and College of DuPage's summer pavilion was selected and featured. Read more -- Summer 2015

Khushboo Shah, who earned an associate’s degree in Pre-Architecture from College of DuPage, recently returned to her alma mater as a professional architect, working on plans for the recent renovation of the College’s Naperville Center.

As a student, Shah lived in Naperville and took a French language course at the Center as well as several placement tests. This experience served her well while working on renovations to the 20,460 square-foot Naperville Center, which includes a new classroom that will be used as a science lab, as well as new student lounge areas, a multi-purpose conference room and a faculty workroom. In addition, all classrooms have been updated to reflect a state-of-the-art learning environment.

“Having been to the center before, I was able to express to the design team the unfriendly, cold feeling of the building from the perspective of a student,” said the current Bolingbrook resident. “The interior and exterior spaces were dated and unwelcoming. The 1990s classrooms did not function well for current technology, particularly laptops. In addition, the layout of the building was hard for part-time students and visitors to navigate since classrooms were isolated from student areas.

“The reconfigured design of the interior, along with the vibrant colors used in the facility, really brightens up the experience inside and out.”

Shah’s interest in architecture comes from her father, who is in the construction materials business. He saw the dedication and creativity an architect brings to any project and pushed her to pursue it as a career. When her family moved from India to the U.S., she started at College of DuPage based upon her uncle’s advice.

“It was one of the best recommendations I could have taken. Attending COD helped me to adjust to this country since I was able to take courses and live at home,” she said. “Initially, the Architecture program asked for a lot of patience, but the faculty brought the students some fun and challenging projects. Their one-on-one attention with each student and excitement for every project are really what motivated me to continue.”

In addition to living at home and being a full-time student, Shah worked part-time and was able to use those savings when she was accepted into the prestigious Versailles program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She spent her junior year in France and then returned to UIUC, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies and a master’s degree in Architecture.

After graduating in May 2013, she traveled to China for five weeks to participate in the Solar Decathlon China 2013 competition, which was started by the U.S. and Chinese governments to promote sustainable economic and social development while encouraging the use of renewable energy sources. In 2014, she began working at Bailey Edward, which was established in 1991 as a woman-owned firm.

“Since I started there, I have put my education to work on projects for the General Services Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University, Argonne National Laboratory, South Dakota State University and the department of Veterans Affairs, in addition to working on this amazing project to renovate the Naperville Center for College of DuPage,” she said.

The Naperville Center renovation also included taking the space for the Cosmetology program, which was relocated to the College’s Addison Center, and converting it to offices, while former offices were converted to classroom space. The front entrance was redesigned into a more defined, welcoming area; the exterior was upgraded to tie into the look of the main campus in Glen Ellyn, with new energy-efficient glazing; and a new HVAC system with digital controls was installed on the roof and the distributed ventilation elements upgraded, which allowed for maximum reuse of existing ductwork and provided for lower energy consumption.

“Bailey Edward gave me the opportunity to work on the project during every phase,” she said. “The majority of my time was spent developing the project through the design development and construction documentation phase and producing the design in AutoCAD,” she said. “I related to the project not only as an alumnus of COD, but also because the fast pace and small team – which focused on creating a beautiful and functional design – was similar to the studio culture in the Architecture program.”

Shah considers College of DuPage one of the best cost-saving schools in Illinois with educational standards that parallel any prestigious university.

“The Architecture program is constantly updated to match what students might need to meet the real-world challenges,” she said. “The school provides an all-around curriculum that includes, but is not limited to, architecture history courses, computer drawing and presentation program courses, introductory structural courses, and more that prepare students to design a project. For example, I was first introduced to AutoCAD in one of my courses at COD and I use it daily for my work at Bailey Edward.

“My education at COD made the transition to the real world smoother.” -- Spring 2015

The Paul W. Davidson III Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established in the School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The scholarship fund was created by his family, classmates and colleagues to honor Paul’s memory and life. He started his academic career at College of DuPage before transferring to UIUC.

The fund will allow the School of Architecture to award a scholarship to promising architecture students who have financial need. More information about Paul and the scholarship fund.

College of DuPage Architecture students have added their touch to the renovated campus by providing an outdoor gathering pavilion.

As part of the summer Architecture 2840 Design Build class, 16 students enrolled in the course designed, built and installed the temporary pavilion just south of the Technical Education Center. The wooden structure consists of five bays that form a unique and inviting space on the west side of campus. View photos and view video.

The project was funded by a $15,000 grant through the College Foundation’s Resource for Excellence program.

“I wanted to see what would happen in a design studio class when students needed to build what they designed,” said Mark Pearson, Associate Professor of Architecture, who chronicled the project on his blog. “It’s a valuable educational tool to simulate a real-world activity with a real-life project that includes a site and a budget.”

Pearson said one challenge was to include all of the students in the final design rather than selecting just one student’s submission. He broke the students into teams, which created 12 different schemes. From there, the class looked at similarities and designed five schemes in greater detail. Finally, all of the students debated the pros and cons and selected one design.

“I tried to get the students to think about the poetics of design and the details of construction and how both reinforce each other,” Pearson said.

Student Francois El-Bittar of Oakbrook Terrace said it was crucial to create something that perfectly fit into the selected site.

“It was important to create something that would be entertaining and eye-catching,” he said. “We wanted to frame the views, especially the lake and the fountain.”

Once the design was finalized, the students conducted a presentation for DuPage County officials. Even though a building permit wasn’t needed, Pearson felt the presentation added to the classroom experience.

The students then constructed the pavilion in the TEC. Watch a time lapse of the construction. After College of DuPage President Dr. Robert L. Breuder gave his approval, the students installed the pavilion.

“Normally, architecture students are most heavily involved in the design aspects of a project,” Pearson said. “Here we added that layer of construction, which added to the depth of the course.”

Although the gathering pavilion is expected to stay in place through the fall months, the strong positive response may extend this into next spring, Pearson said.

El-Bittar, who is transferring to IIT to study architecture, said the class was both fun and interactive. Student Kevin Smith of Winfield, who plans to transfer to the University of Illinois, said the course was an invaluable learning tool.

“It really helped me grow as a designer,” he said. “It was one of the best experiences I’ve had at College of DuPage.” -- Summer 2014

Architecture award

Julia Suriano is the first College of DuPage student to receive a Student Merit Award from the Association of Licensed Architects (ALA).

Suriano earned her Pre-Architecture Associate in Applied Science degree in 2014. She was accepted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and received a presidential scholarship from the Illinois Institute of Technology, where she will attend in the fall.

Suriano (above, third from left) receives her ALA plaque from COD architecture faculty Ted Kulinski, Jane Ostergaard and Mark Pearson. -- Summer 2014

Four Architecture students from College of DuPage have been accepted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Julia Suriano, Ignazio Calabria, Kevin Zeng and Adam Souhrada.

"The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one of the top architecture schools in the country, so having four of our students gain acceptance is a reflection upon the skills they developed in our program," said Jane Ostergaard, Professor of Architecture and program coordinator. "We wish them the best of luck and look forward to hearing about their future successes." -- Spring 2014

Each year, the University of Illinois Architecture Program selects approximately 40 students to travel to Versailles, France, to study architecture for a full academic year before returning to the Champaign campus to finish their degrees. This year, five students chosen for this prestigious program are from College of DuPage.

Students Jairo Ortega, 21, of Plainfield; Phil Svetich, 20, of Downers Grove; Khushboo Shah, 20, Naperville; and Jeff Nemcher, 39, of Aurora, are recent graduates of the College of DuPage Architecture transfer program. Fellow traveler, James Lenahan, Glen Ellyn, attended COD for one year before transferring to University of Illinois as a sophomore.

Watch a video of students discussing this opportunity.

"Architects have a centuries' long tradition of traveling the world to study architecture," said David M. Chasco, director of the University of Illinois Architecture program. "The students who participate in our Versailles program are a select group of intellectually accomplished individuals. This is a rigorous program for those who want to challenge themselves intellectually in a foreign environment – it's an experience that students will take with them throughout their educational and professional careers."

The University of Illinois Versailles Program is the second-oldest study abroad experience in the country and is one of the few international programs that lasts for a full nine months.

"Our students mature tremendously over the course of this program," Chasco said. "They complete the same courses as junior-year Architecture students in Champaign; however, they are also thrust into the French culture and have the opportunity to experience other cultures in the Middle East, Northern Africa and Europe during travel breaks interspersed throughout the curriculum."

College of DuPage students Nemcher, Ortega, Svetich and Shah said they are "more than ready" to begin their travels due to the skills they acquired at COD  "I would definitely recommend College of DuPage to students who are considering studying architecture," Ortega said. "We designed a small multi-purpose building in Chicago during our second year, which is something that doesn't usually happen in other programs until much later."

Nemcher said the COD Architecture transfer program fully prepares students for junior standing at a four-year institution. "Anyone who completes the COD program is not going to have to take extra classes once they get to a four-year school," Nemcher said. "The curriculum here has really prepared us to go to Versailles and study on the same level as the students who have been at U of I for two years already."

Founded in 1867, the U of I School of Architecture has been regarded as one of the nation's leading institutions in architectural education. According to coordinator Jane Ostergaard, full-time Architecture professor Mark Pearson is a graduate of the Versailles program, as are half a dozen of the College's adjunct faculty.

"This is yet another example of the superior value we offer at College of DuPage," said Jane Ostergaard, who noted that the program will host an informational meeting about the Versailles program in October for others who may be interested. "These students have been able to seamlessly articulate into one of the country's finest architectural programs. We are a desirable but affordable alternative for the first two years of a student's education." -- Spring 2012

DuPage Habitat for Humanity, ComEd, and College of DuPage announced a green partnership in the development of a $3 million Habitat for Humanity residential subdivision in DuPage County. The new homes, built in the Pioneer Prairie neighborhood of suburban West Chicago, will allow 11 limited-income families to purchase attainable, sustainable homes.

Watch a video about the project.

ComEd is playing a central role in providing energy efficiency expertise for construction of the homes of Pioneer Prairie and the working families who will occupy them. Through an innovative new class called Sustainable Design Initiative taught at College of DuPage, architecture and construction management students worked alongside industry professionals and technical experts, like the ComEd Energy Doctor, to evaluate green building strategies for the 11 Habitat homes; and for DuPage Habitat for Humanity in the long-term.

"ComEd is committed to helping all our customers become smart energy consumers, especially in the current economic climate. That's why we're suggesting simple steps our customers can take to shrink their carbon footprints – and their energy costs," said Anne Pramaggiore, executive vice president of Customer Operations, Regulatory, and External Affairs, ComEd. "This creative collaboration allows ComEd to expand our energy efficiency education efforts by providing technical expertise to DuPage Habitat for Humanity and the students of Sustainable Design Initiative."

At the semester's conclusion, the students of Sustainable Design Initiative presented a plan to DuPage Habitat for Humanity detailing money-saving green solutions available to all homeowners and home developers. The plan offered a complete cost-benefit analysis of energy efficiency recommendations for home construction, recycling, and landscaping.

Later in 2009, DuPage Habitat for Humanity, ComEd, and College of DuPage plan to publicize the students' findings through a series of free community events designed to inform area residents of low- and no-cost options for managing energy costs and reducing energy usage.

"This has been a great opportunity for our students to see the real-world applications of sustainable design principles," said Jane Ostergaard, Architecture Coordinator, College of DuPage. "Working with Habitat has pushed the students to look carefully at the cost benefits and consequences of the recommendations they are preparing."

In June, DuPage Habitat for Humanity broke ground on Pioneer Prairie, a three-acre residential subdivision of 11 detached, single-family homes. The neighborhood is located at the intersection of Sherman and Pomeroy streets in West Chicago. In addition to the new homes, the development will provide many benefits to local residents and the surrounding community, including new infrastructure, increased home values, and enhanced aesthetic appeal thanks to new sidewalks, parkway trees, streetscapes, and an expanded, revitalized Pioneer Park.

"DuPage Habitat offers families a hand up, not a hand out. Habitat's model for community-centered development of affordable homes offers community benefits, infrastructure improvements and now energy efficiency solutions through partnerships with local families, donors and volunteers that increase the supply of much-needed, sustainable, attainable homes in DuPage County," said Sarah Brachle, executive director of DuPage Habitat for Humanity.

In August, several of the COD architecture students spent a day working on the homes at the Pioneer Prairie job site.

Watch a video of the students working on the homes.

View photos of the students working on the homes.

DuPage Habitat for Humanity builds and sells homes to qualified hard-working, limited-income families. Families must earn sufficient income to pay their 30-year mortgages to DuPage Habitat. In addition, homeowners complete 250 "sweat equity" hours building their own home and their neighbors' homes, and participating in finance, budgeting, and home repair classes. All Habitat homeowners pay local property taxes and utilities.

DuPage Habitat for Humanity has raised $2.5 million in philanthropic, government, and community support for the 11 Pioneer Prairie homes and five scattered-site rehabbed homes. The donors are not only funding the development of 11 new energy-efficient homes, they are creating a 30-year annuity that continues to help fund affordable home construction in DuPage County for years to come. Donors include: ComEd, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Ambitech Engineering, Matrex Exhibits, Tyndale House Publishers, Air-Rite Heating and Cooling, Goldman Sachs, Painters and Allied Trades Union, Mark Fessler, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, and Showalter Roofing.

Supporting the development of Pioneer Prairie contributes to Exelon 2020, the comprehensive corporate strategy of ComEd's parent company, Exelon, to reduce, offset, or displace more than 15 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year by 2020.

Green Tip Sheet

For the latest news on DuPage Habitat for Humanity and the Pioneer Prairie project


Contact Information

Jane Ostergaard, Program Chair
Technical Education Center (TEC), Room 1048
(630) 942-2331

Arts, Communication, and Hospitality Division
McAninch Arts Center (MAC), Room 219
(630) 942-2048