We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to the Honorable mention winners of our The Legendary Highway 14 Tower competition – Stela Szaboova and Rohit Raman from United States!

Rohit Raman and Stela Szaboova

Please tell us about your company (when it was founded, where it is based, how many employees, etc) Alternatively, if you do not have a company, please give us some insights on your own professional/academia background.

We are both 4th year architecture students at Washington State University. Coming from different backgrounds, we both share a passion for design and architecture and how it holds the power to transform spaces into unique experiences.

Rohit Raman: I was born and raised in Seattle, WA until the age of 9, after which I moved to Chennai, India. During my time there, I explored various parts of India, gathering inspiration from various architecture styles and cultures. I studied the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP), where I focussed on cantilever structural analysis and research on designing for damping seismic oscillations. I moved back to Washington, US to pursue Architecture school. Alongside my education at WSU, I have been able to gather a variety of work experiences, like freelancing as a 3D Modeler and Renderer for a residential drafting company, and working with a Professor as a Technical Assistant to design a course for the architecture department. During the summer of 2023, I interned at an architecture firm, where I worked alongside Architects and Interior Designers on various commercial projects. To continue exploring different aspects of designing outside of my courses, I took part in a couple of other competitions, like the ASC Competition (2024), which is part of WSU’s Construction Management program, and the Mass Timber Competition by Idaho Forest Products (2023). I grew up competing in equestrian and badminton, while pursuing singing and music production. These hobbies helped/help me keep focus on my work/life balance.

Stela Szaboova: I was born in Slovakia, and I moved to the US 9 years ago. I studied architecture for some time at a university in Spain before coming back to Washington State to finish my undergraduate program in architecture at Washington State University. Living in different countries helped me broaden my perspectives and experience so many different cultures. During my studies, I worked as a graphic designer intern, and during the summer, I worked as an architectural designer intern. These experiences enriched my design thinking and helped me explore different skill sets and passions. In my free time, I enjoy creative work like painting, ceramics, and graphic design, but also traveling and hiking.

Brief information about the projects that you/your company have been involved with. For instance, what scale have you focused on/preferred, any significant projects where the company/ individuals have been Involved?

As students, we aspire to design unique commercial/residential spaces in the future for various occupants' wants and needs. We hope to be able to positively contribute to the community and the design and construction industry using sustainable and innovative designs. For De Smet Canvas, we wanted to focus in the first place on a design that would be customizable by the city, something where everybody, including the tourists, can add their own mark. We wanted it to be also modular, easy to build, and maintain with long-lasting materials.

We wanted to make the facades changeable with the events of the city or seasons so that it would be very memorable. Keeping all these factors and ideas in mind, we first and foremost made a lot of iterations before we settled on a final design. The design process was quite enjoyable since our focus was on the experience and materials that guided our design.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

To us, architecture is about expression and creating an identity, either for a place or adding to a style of design. It’s about being able to create spaces where people feel safe and comfortable. The role of an architect in our society is to attend to the wants and needs of the community, considering the differences in it, and being able to represent a space’s highest potential, whether it be a functionally prominent building or a small part of the community. We believe that the architect’s role is to enrich the community and tend to its needs.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

As students, participating in architecture competitions gives us a glimpse of how our proposed design can become a reality. It puts us in the mindset of designing something that has a certain potential to be built, which is exciting. It also helps us think uniquely and keeps us constantly improving our skills and designs.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture competitions?

Taking part in competitions is one way to get out of your comfort zone. They can help you understand how the process of design works from a different perspective. Approach them enthusiastically and have fun!

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