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Sylvania students have designs on temporary wall in College Center

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November 25, 2014 

What empty space doesn’t beg to be filled? At Sylvania’s College Center, an expansive temporary wall in the busy Answer Center inspired a brainchild: to engage second-year graphic design students to imagine and create a mural that’s both artistic and thought-provoking.

Gina Whitehill-Baziuk, the Bond Program’s stakeholder engagement and public involvement manager, took her idea to Sylvania’s Graphic Design department, where it was embraced as a unique opportunity for both the college and students in the fall term’s Design Studio class.

…the Bond Program has been committed to not just the brick and mortar of new buildings and renovations but the educational opportunities afforded by all the bond work…

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Instructor Angie Martorana and her second-year graphic design students stand in front of their concept boards during the planning stages of the project.

“From the beginning, the Bond Program has been committed to not just the brick and mortar of new buildings and renovations but the educational opportunities afforded by all the bond work,” said Whitehill-Baziuk. “While we have seen many construction-related “working lab” opportunities for students, it has been more difficult to find opportunities for the more non-traditional professions. Having the second-year graphic design students so thoroughly engaged – from concept to completion, is exactly what we envisioned when we first talked about engaging students in bond program implementation.”

Angie Martorana, Design Studio instructor at Sylvania, is coordinating the project and assisting the students: Ally Santos, Stephanie McGrady, Hendrick Falcon, Serena Engquist, Jessica Edmonds, Holland Royal, Jana Stoughton, Thin Tran and Charlie Johnson.

Martorana first divided the students into two groups, each with a different mission: one, to identify the key improvements in each of the Sylvania’s four phases of construction; and two, to examine the Bond Program’s mission in terms of safety, sustainability, environment and technology.

The students then collaborated on a visual concept of a long tree branch stretching along the 75-foot-long, 13-foot-tall wall. The design will include large half-circles of plexiglass painted with PCC colors, one panel for each of the four phases of bond construction, accompanied by text describing the highlights of each phase. The installation will have three windows, behind which the ongoing construction work will be able to be viewed.

The installation will also include 3-D shingled birdhouses and birds, which will be made in the campus’ new Makers Space, a resource where students can use a variety of equipment, such as routers, vinyl cutters, 3-D printers, and an industrial sewing machine.

…the project is unique because it allows students to explore graphic design beyond the printed page…

According to Martorana, the project is unique because it allows students to explore graphic design beyond the printed page.

“Students will have photographs of this final piece as an impressive piece in their final portfolios,” she said. “This type of project represents collaboration, expanded use and application of materials, and environment graphics, which is a unique skill. They understand what it takes to design graphics on a computer screen that are intended to span an entire wall.”

In addition to making the installation aesthetically pleasing, the class faced a logistical challenge. They considered the view from the south side of the room, as well as the doorway entrance at the east end of the wall. “We are trying to avoid design elements that could potentially stop people near that door, because it’s a through-way,” said Martorana.

Over multiple weeks in class, students sketched and created wall designs on a computer using Adobe Illustrator. Then they digitally overlaid the graphic ideas onto a photograph of the wall.

The students presented three design concepts to a large committee that included Whitehill-Baziuk, Sylvania Campus Interim President Suzanne Johnson, Visual and Performing Arts and Design Dean Gene Flores, and Graphic Design Chair Cece Cutsforth.

Following the committee’s approval, Martorana and the students set to work collecting the materials for the installation with a budget of $1,000. Whenever possible, they will incorporate repurposed and recycled items – such as cardboard tubes from a local print shop – for little or no cost. Students will be utilizing the Makers Space on campus for a variety of components.

Work on the wall has already begun, and is expected to be completed by the end of the fall term, said Martorana. The Bond Program will host a reception to celebrate its completion, and the installation will remain in place for a year.

Martorana says the Campus Center wall project has been a remarkable experience for the whole class.

“I’m just so impressed on so many levels,” she said. “I feel that every student is excited to be involved, and each has brought their own unique strength to this project. Their ability to present their concepts to the participants in that first meeting by talking about the Bond Program and how their designs represent the scope of work was fantastic. They were prepared and confident to discuss their ideas.”

PCC’s 2008 voter-approved $374 million bond program is increasing opportunities for residents to access quality, affordable higher education close to where they live and work. Additional classrooms, updated equipment and technology, and advanced workforce training programs are helping to pave the way for future employment options. For more information, visit the bond website.