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High School Student Wins Architectural Design Contest

Candace Braun

Making the decision on which college to attend is difficult for many high school students. But the decision becomes infinitely easier when a five-year scholarship falls into one's lap.

That's what happened to Ian Lord, a junior at Princeton High School. However the scholarship was not that easy to obtain, as Ian received the scholarship as part of the 2004 National High School Competition in the New Jersey Institute of Technology's School of Architecture. Ian's design for a skateboard park won first prize, which is a five-year scholarship to the school, equivalent to $44,500 in tuition.

The contest called for ninth through twelfth grade students nationwide to design a skateboard park for their community. The project proposal had to include the design of both a building complex and an artificial landscape. A skateboard arena, bleacher seats for 200 spectators, and a service facility which includes changing rooms, showers, lockers, refreshments, a first aid station, and maintenance and administration areas had to be included in the design.

The students had to target teenagers and young adults, and create a distinctive open performance area, as well as an indoor service space. Each student's design was judged on aspects including access, structure, volume, and form.

Not a skateboarder himself, Ian first learned of the contest from his industrial education teacher at Princeton High School, Frank Francisco. The teacher encouraged all of his students to enter the contest, however Ian was the only Princeton student to walk away a winner.

But while the competition appeared to be difficult, Ian shrugged off the complications of the work.

"It felt good [to win]," he said.

Ian said that while no members of his family are architects, he is considering majoring in the field in college. Both of Ian's parents work for Princeton University. His father is an actuary consultant, and his mother is a demographer in the Office of Population Research at Princeton.

But while Ian has a free ride to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, he hasn't ruled out other options, naming Washington University as another school he might like to attend.

Designing the Park

Ian created his design using high-tech computer programs, after which he mounted his work on poster boards for presentation.

He began his architectural drawing with a pyramid, which he stretched out, adding as he went along the designated areas that were required. However, Ian made an error that turned out to be in his favor. He had misread the instructions, and had begun to design the skateboard arena inside the pyramid, rather than outside, as per the instructions.

Once he revised his plans, the skateboard arena was created to flow outward from the pyramid. It made him open up the skateboard arena to the outside, still keeping the service building and the arena connected.

Inside the service pyramid, Ian designed a circular first aid center, restrooms, and staircases leading out to a balcony with concession stands. Beyond the pyramid is the halfpipe and the oval-shaped outdoor skateboard venue with seats for an audience.

Ian's design calls for the demolition of Nassau Hall, as it is a central location in Princeton for a skateboard park.

However Ian said that the design was merely for the contest, and he would not expect the University to actually tear down one of its key structures: "I wouldn't actually want to tear down Nassau Hall," he said, smiling.

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