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Karim Rashid to be Keynote speaker at 2015 Interior Design Emerging Symposium!

FIU and its Interior Architecture Department will host the 2015 Interior Design Emerging Symposium at The College of Architecture + The Arts | Miami Beach Urban Studios in April 2015.

The Interior Design Emerging Symposium will gather various representatives of interior design and architecture to advocate for professional identity, support cultural diversity through design, encourage global connectivity, and foster interdisciplinary exchanges. The 2015 symposium theme, Blurred Lines, refers to those narrow and vacillating borders between the designs of interior spaces and the objects, forms, and technologies that interact in and out of those spaces. Blurred Lines will investigate the ever-evolving role of the Interior Architect / Interior Designer as an individual that creatively touches every part of the built landscape (Source: 2015 Interior Design Emerging Symposium). The keynote speaker for the symposium will be Interior Architect and Industrial Designer Karim Rashid.

Sarah Boehm, Assistant Professor in the FIU Interior Architecture Department, coordinates this amazing meeting of practitioners, scholars, and students. Next year will mark the second bi-annual symposium to be hosted by FIU at the Miami Beach Urban Studios under the direction of Professor Boehm.

Symposium guests will be exposed to an interdisciplinary approach to design when participants share and discuss ideas and research findings. From such an experience, they will learn “new possibilities and reinvented spaces and objects that blur the lines of convention and shape an unbounded future.”

The schedule for the 2015 Interior Design Emerging Symposium will be as follows:

 April 10th, 2015


Breakfast & Registration


Keynote Address: Karim Rashid


Individual Presentations


Lunch & Workshop Presentations


Poster Session


Individual Presentations


Coffee Break


Pecha Kucha Presentations


Closing Remarks

 The 2015 Interior Design Emerging Symposium will take place on April 10th, 2015 at The College of Architecture + The Arts | Miami Beach Urban Studios: 420 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL 33139.

 To register for the symposium, click here. To answer the call for proposals and submit your own work to the symposium, click here.

This article was written by Sarah Boehm, Assistant Professor in the FIU Interior Architecture Department.

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Natasha Diminich (MIA ’12) and Ileana Rodriguez (M.Arch ’11), EP Park(ing) Day Design Competition Winners

Natasha Diminich (FIU MIA ’12) and Ileana Rodriguez, Assoc. AIA (FIU M.Arch ’11) won third place for the PARK(ing) Day Design Competition. Emerging professionals in Florida/Caribbean region were invited to submit design proposals for a parklet to be constructed in their communities.

Their winning parklet, entitled “Food Desert,” brings awareness to social needs in their community. Diminich and Rodriguez said, “the Food Desert parklet brings awareness to the lack of accessible or affordable healthy food to various communities within our city. Our design proposes a modular system that can respond to the varying needs of these affected communities by providing a place to grow produce, sell produce, learn about healthy food preparation and nutrition, etc.”

During their education at FIU, Diminich and Rodriguez worked on numerous school projects located in various sites in Miami, including the Everglades, Lincoln Road, Surfside, Downtown Miami, and Coconut Grove. This, they said, “created a sense of belonging and appreciation for our community and our architecture.” Now, they want to give back to their community through their design work.

Diminich received her Master of Interior Architecture in 2012 from FIU. She presented her work, “Re-Use and Sustainable Tourism: Interior Architecture Fostering Social Development in Istria” at the 6th Annual Art & Design for Social Justice Symposium at Florida State University. She is currently an Independent Interior Designer.

Rodriguez received her Master of Architecture in 2011 from FIU. She was a speaker at TEDx FIU 2012 under the theme “What do you see?” She was also a consultant on the United States Olympic Committee from October 2010 to November 2012, and she participated in the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London. She is currently an Architectural Intern at HKS.

You are cordially invited on Friday, September 19th, 2014 to join Diminich and Rodriguez in the celebration of their parklet, Food Desert. Their installation will be located mid-block on NE 2nd Street between NE 2nd Ave and NE 3rd Ave.  It is an all-day event, and other PARK(ing) DAY participants will be showcasing their creations in the Downtown vicinity as well.



The featured images are provided courtesy of Natasha Diminich and Ileana Rodriguez.

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Festival of the Trees Kickoff a Success!

The Festival of the Trees (FOT) is a fundraising event coordinated by FIU Interior Architecture and its advisory board. Each year, South Florida’s architecture and design community demonstrates its support for quality interior architecture education through their annual participation in the Festival of the Trees event and auction. This holiday extravaganza has raised over $100,000 in funds that benefit Florida International University’s Interior Architecture Department and its talented students.

The Festival of the Trees Kickoff event held on Wednesday, August 20th drew a large crowd of students, alumni, faculty, and friends of FIU Interior Architecture. The event room of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar was filled with more than 100 guests, who enjoyed conversations with colleagues as well as images of trees submitted to FOT in the past.

This year, the 28th Annual Festival of the Trees will occur on Thursday, November 20th at the Coral Gables Country Club. Festival of the Trees Sponsors have underwritten designers who design and build their unique holiday creations and donate them to the event. These “trees” will be displayed and auctioned at the gala opening on November 20th. The lucky winning bidders will take these extraordinary creations and use them for holiday decorations in either their homes or offices.

The 28th Annual Festival of the Trees will take place on Thursday, November 20th at 6:30PM at the Coral Gables Country Club: 997 North Greenway Drive, Miami, FL 33134. Tickets will go on sale in mid-September.

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Janine King invited to participate in Future Vision 2014

Janine King, Chair of FIU Interior Architecture and Associate Professor, has been invited to join the Council for Interior Design Accreditation’s (CIDA) Future Vision 2014.

From the CIDA website: “The Council for Interior Design Accreditation Board of Directors has invited visionaries to partner in establishing priorities for the future of interior design higher education. Chosen for their well-informed, broad perspective, a diverse group of nominated thought leaders will join the Board of Directors at CIDA’s Future Vision session in November 2014. Hosted by Steelcase, the goal of Future Vision is to describe factors that will have the greatest influence on interior design in order to establish educational priorities for entry-level practitioners in 2017 and beyond.”

The following individuals will participate in Future Vision 2014.

Interior design practice
Collin Burry, Principal, Gensler, San Francisco, CA (CIDA Board)
Julianna Catlin, Principal, Catlin Design, Jacksonville, FL
Heather Robertson Corrigan, President, Robertson MacLean Design Limited, Dartmouth, NS (CIDA Board)
Raphael Paul diTommaso, Principal, diTommaso & Colaku, New York, NY
Benjamin Fuglevand, Associate, Callison Architects, Seattle, WA
Sari Graven, Principal, J&S Collaborative, Seattle, WA (CIDA Board)
Carol Jones, Principal, Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning Ltd., Vancouver, BC (CIDA Board)
Melissa Mizell, Senior Associate Designer, Gensler, San Francisco, CA
Christina Oliver, Principal, Oliver Interiors, LLC, Newton, MA
Heidi Painchaud, Managing Principal, B+H Architects, Toronto, ON
Adam Stover, Principal, Populous, Kansas City, MO

Interior design education
Katherine Ankerson, Department Head, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS
Tilanka Chandrasekera, Assistant Professor, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK
Pamela Evans, Interior Design Director, Kent State University, Kent, OH (CIDA Board)
Janine King, Interior Architecture Department Chair, Florida International University, Miami, FL
Thomas Kong, Associate Professor, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Jane Kucko, Associate Dean for University Programs, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX (CIDA Board)
Carl Matthews, Interior Design Program Director, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR (CIDA Board)
Dorothy Stern, Professor, Algonquin College, Ottawa, ON

Industry and related disciplines
Tom Carlisle, Apple Campus 2 Design, Apple, Cupertino, CA
Michael R. Gibson, Associate Professor, University of North Texas, Denton, TX (AIGA Design Education Council)
Jan Johnson, Vice President Design and Workplace Resources, Allsteel, Chicago, IL (CIDA Board)
Alex Serriere, Principal, CTO, Director of Research, TEECOM, Oakland, CA
Mark Strauss, President, Interior Design Media, New York, NY (CIDA Board)

Professor King has over fifteen years experience in teaching and administration, and has headed FIU’s Interior Architecture Department since 2003. She is a licensed Interior Designer in the state of Florida and holds an NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) certificate. She earned her Master of Interior Architecture Degree from the University of Oregon and has won numerous awards for her teaching, research, and service. Her research is motivated by a desire to enhance the quality of people’s lives through the production of safe, healthy, useful, and inspirational interior environments.  Aimed at improving the depth and quality of the design process, her work focuses on developing and evaluating new procedures and methods that improve designers’ ability to solve complex problems. This work ranges from a series of funded projects developing, implementing, and evaluating participatory design methods to projects involving innovative instructional methods directed toward complex problem solving. Her work has resulted in book chapters, journal articles, and conference presentations.

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Festival of the Trees Kickoff on Wednesday, August 20th!

The Festival of the Trees Kickoff event will take place next Wednesday, August 20th! Join us at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and meet-up with FIU Interior Architecture’s extended family of designers, students, alumni, and industry representatives. This event will be hosted in preparation for the bigger event to come in November 2014, the Festival of the Trees.

The Festival of the Trees is a fundraising event coordinated by FIU Interior Architecture and its advisory board. Each year, Festival of the Trees Sponsors underwrite designers who design and build their unique holiday creations and donate them to the event. The ‘trees’ are then displayed and auctioned at the gala opening held at Coral Gables Museum. The lucky winning bidders take these extraordinary creations and use them for holiday decorations in either their homes or offices. South Florida’s architecture and design community demonstrates its support for quality interior architecture education by both their participation in the creation of the trees and their attendance at the event. This holiday extravaganza has raised over $100,000 in funds that benefit FIU’s Interior Architecture Department and its talented students.

The Festival of the Trees Kickoff event will take place on Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 at 6:30PM at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar: 2525 Ponce De Leon Boulevard, Coral Gables, FL 33134. RSVP to Zinaida Hirlemann at zhirlema@fiu.edu. A $10 donation at the door is suggested.

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Alumna Lisette Boosooboy teaches Summer Course

Ranked as the 4th best interior design graduate program in the South by DesignIntelligence, the FIU Department of Interior Architecture is passionate about design and explores its countless contributions to society, through the work done by our faculty and students. This Summer, Lisette Boosooboy, LEED AP (FIU BA in Interior Design ’05, MIA ’13) transformed from alumna to both former student and faculty member of the Department. She decided to join the Department’s creative, dedicated designers by teaching the course Construction Documents of Interior Architecture. She returned to the classroom to be on the other side of the curriculum, offering students her expertise and talents in the field.

Returning to FIU to teach was a bit of a change for the alumna. “It is a bit daunting at first,” she said, “but when you realize that this is part of what you have been doing for the last nine years, and you know the information, it becomes a challenge that you can handle.”

Boosooboy is a Designer at M.C. Harry & Associates, and has been since September 2005. She said that FIU Interior Architecture prepared her for her professional experiences at the firm. “The FIU Interior Architecture Department has an amazing faculty that prepares its students to think about design in an [exploratory] method,” said Boosooboy. “[I]t challenges the intellect in a logical as well as a creative manner….There are an infinite number of skills that one possessses upon graduating from FIU, but being able to astutely give a reason behind one’s design choices and effectively communicate that to a client or a team is invaluable.”

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Peta-Gaye Walker (MIA ’14) acquires full-time position at Touzet Studio

The role of internships in preparing our students for professional practice cannot be understated. Here is a great example of a student moving from internship to full-time position. College of Architecture + The Arts alumna Peta-Gaye Walker (MIA ’14) acquired a full-time position at Touzet Studio upon graduating from Florida International University.

Touzet Studio is a full-service architecture, interior design and planning firm, with its well-known commercial projects involving GAP, Michigan Avenue Retail, and 3711 NE 2nd Avenue. In January 2014, Touzet Studio hired Petas an intern working as their Material Librarian. “I found out later through my supervisor,” said Walker, “that it was because of my reputation as a diligent student, enthusiasm for FIU, professionalism, and knowledge about materials and relationships with vendors and other professionals in the industry that the company e-mailed me and offered me an internship position.” Walker said that, at the time, the duties of the internship were overwhelming, but she realized that the experience and information she gained was invaluable. “The Studio focused on teaching each designer as if they were project managers, and I got a chance to see all the minor and major details I may not have seen otherwise.”

Walker’s supervisor, Kate Healy (Senior Interior Designer at Touzet Studio), became her mentor for her Masters thesis, a mixed-used project entitled “The White Elephant Culinary Resource Center & Food Bank.” After attending Walker’s thesis presentation, Healy offered Walker a full-time position as Design Assistant.

“Peta has been as asset to me since she started,” said Healy. “She has a positive, outgoing personality which is always appreciated. Initially, when she started, she was finishing her Thesis project, and though I know how time consuming that can be, she was still very dependable and able to help with impending studio deadlines. I have appreciated Peta’s desire to learn and ask questions. When something is left unclear she makes sure to clarify the intent and understand the task fully. It’s refreshing to have someone who can work both on Interiors and be a help to our architectural team when needed. She’s an asset, and I hope she will be with us for a long time!”

Walker says that her education at FIU prepared her well for her professional experience at Touzet Studio. “The teachers prepared me,” she said. “[T]hey…were honest and open about the reality of our industry.  They didn’t sugarcoat anything, and no matter how high they raised the bar, they provided us with tools [with which] to reach that bar and achieve our goals.” Walker appreciates the support she received from FIU Interior Architecture faculty. “[I]t made a world of difference to have people who believe in you as a designer.”

Walker acquired her BA in Sociology from Florida Atlantic University. She has been an Administrative Assistant at Hazen & Sawyer, PC., a Logistical Assistant at FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority), and a Design Assistant at CESI, INC. During her time at FIU, Walker was FIU Interior Architecture’s Graduate Assistant for the Online Resource Material Library. She also ran her own unofficial fraternity called “Mama Peta,” for which she is still the caretaker and through which she has created relationships with both her class and undergraduates. Walker, additionally, was the Festival of the Trees Auctioneer from 2011 to 2013. She said she is proud to have been part of this fundraising campaign for education on interior architecture. She said, “…[T]o be a part of making such an event a success is very dear to me and important. FIU has become very important to me and I have learned a lot and want to give back.”

The department would like to thank all of the firms that provide this valuable opportunity of internships to our students. These successful partnerships between the university and the professional world helps strengthen the profession and build new leaders in the discipline.

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Interior Architecture Masters candidates pass LEED Exam!

In an effort to support the sustainable professional development of its students, the FIU Interior Architecture Department now offers reimbursement to students who successfully pass the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Associate Exam.  Each year, LEED Achievement Awards will be given to a selected number of students who apply for the award and pass the exam.  Award funding is made possible by money raised by the annual Festival of the Trees event.

The FIU Interior Architecture Department would like to congratulate the following Master of Interior Architecture candidates for passing the LEED Green Associate Exam!

Esteban Alvarez

Estefany Intriago

Maria Baena

Michelle Baez

Rebecca Hendrickson

Scheherezade Marles

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FIU Interior Architecture: Let’s Keep our National Ranking!

The design programs of The FIU College of Architecture + The Arts are gaining national reputations for delivering a preeminent education in the disciplines of architecture, interior architecture and landscape architecture. From prominent scholars to recognition in national design competitions, and through local and global industry and academic partnerships, the design programs have emerged as thought leaders in the delivery of forward-thinking design education. We are very proud that the hard work of our faculty, students, alumni, and friends was recognized last year with both national and regional rankings, placing us amongst the strongest programs in the nation.

DesignIntelligence tracks the quality of design education nationally by asking for your professional opinion as to which schools best prepare students. Please take 5 minutes to fill out this year’s DesignIntelligence survey and support our national ranking. Thank you!

How You Can Help

1.    Take 5 minutes and fill out the DesignIntelligence questionnaire:


Interior Architecture

Landscape Architecture

2.    Spread the news and send this link to anyone you think should provide their input.

3.    Stay connected with FIU Department of Interior Architecture by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter and Instagram.

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Alumna Presents First Published Article at ACS Forum

Jacqueline Failer (FIU MIA ’12) has recently published an article for Trinity College’s Architecture, Culture, and Spirituality (ACS) Forum. On Thursday, June 6th, 2014, Failer will present “Seeking the Spiritual Self within the Interior Environment: Analyzing the Work of Heidegger to Define the Human-Object Relationship.”

Failer’s article will be featured under the category of Identity (I) at the ACS Forum, which focuses on “spirituality and meaning in the built environment, and their implications regarding design education and professional practice.” (Source: http://www.acsforum.org/history.htm)

In her article, Failer describes the importance of establishing a relationship between a human being and and space. “The often cited alientation of contemporary society has given rise to the need to create sacred spaces where one may discover a spiritual experience,” says Failer in her article’s introduction. “This desire for sacred space emanates from a fundamental and long standing need of humans to connect with their origins.” Failer refers to the work of German philosopher Martin Heidegger. “This paper contends that Heidegger’s less secular viewpoint towards sacredness can be a tool in understanding the relationship between humans and the tangible objects used and encountered daily, which in turn translates to architecture and the interior environment, offering its users their own set of relationship values.” (Source: http://www.acsforum.org/symposium2014/papers.htm)

Jacqueline Failer received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida in 2000, and her Master of Interior Architecture from The FIU College of Architecture + The Arts in 2012. During her years at FIU, Failer received a Graduate Award for Scholarship, was a University Graduate School Scholarly Forum Award Winner for the Literature and Cultural Studies Poster Presentation, and was a University Graduate School Provost Award Nominee for Best Paper. Failer has worked as a Green Schools Committee Co-Chair for the U.S. Green Building Council in Miami-Dade County, as an Adjunct Professor of Interior Design for The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, and as an Adjunct Professor of Interior Design for FIU. In her spare time, Failer is an artist.

“Seeking the Spiritual Self within the Interior Environment: Analyzing the Work of Heidegger to Define the Human-Object Relationship” by Jacqueline Fuller can be read here on the Architecture, Culture, and Spirituality (ACS) Forum website.

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AIA Miami Displays student work from the FIU School of Architecture

AIA Miami is showing the best student work from all of the Architecture and Design schools in the South Florida region at The Miami Center for Architecture & Design. The collection, entitled [SUPER]STUDIO 2014 is curated by J. Mikael Kaul, AIA PA and Nicholas Baker III, architect ma bfh.

The collection includes student work from Florida International University, the Design & Architecture Senior High School, Florida Atlantic University, Broward College, Miami-Dade College, Palm Beach State College, and the University of Miami.

[SUPER]STUDIO 2014 by AIA Miami will run until Friday, May 30th, 2014 at The Miami Center for Architecture & Design: 100 Northeast 1st Ave, Miami, FL 33132.

The feature image is provided courtesy of AIA Miami.

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Community Engagement: Lotus House Thrift Project

FIU’s Interior Architecture Department seeks to explore the many ways design can contribute to society. An example of how our program actively forms innovative educational programs and partnerships occurred this spring in the Sustainable Practices in Interior Architecture seminar, taught by Katie Rothfield. Students in this course designed the interiors of the new Lotus House Thrift’s Employment and Life Skills Center and Donations and Storage Center.

Organized into collaborative teams, Interior Architecture students created conceptual design proposals for these centers. They researched the Lotus House organization and investigated sustainable design practices that would meet both the functional and aesthetic needs of this setting. Each group’s design had to embody the principles of Environmentally Responsible for Interior Design (ERID). The students submitted their designs to the Lotus House stakeholders who reviewed them and decided to incorporate ideas from all groups’ final designs for the centers.

Lotus House is an organization dedicated to the protection and caregiving of homeless women, youth, and children. Lotus House Thrift, which is staffed and managed entirely by Lotus House guests and alumnae, both sells donated clothing and household items and gives donated goods to Lotus House guests. In May, the thrift store will move from its current Midtown location to its new location in the historic neighborhood of Overtown.

The ribbon cutting and fashion show of the new Lotus House Thrift took place on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 and was hosted by Channel 2 Art Loft’s Kalyn James.

This article was written with the help of Katie Rothfield, Visiting Instructor.

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Gensler joins FIU Interior Architecture in teaching Graduate Design 2: Workplace Design

What are current issues regarding workplace design? What insights can best help us design successful workplaces? Why is it important that the design of workplace interiors respond to a complex set of contexts, including the culture of the workplace, the building and site with which they engage, and the technical systems within which they operate? These are all issues the Graduate Design 2: Workplace Design studio sought to explore.

This framework of investigation led to a unique collaboration between the leading global design firm Gensler and this FIU studio. Gensler’s Miami office, located at 801 Brickell, acted as an extended campus, offering students access to their expertise through lectures and through instruction with a set of mentors (Gensler employees, for whom design education is a passion and of high importance). Studio classes occurred at both the FIU Modesto Maidique Campus and Gensler’s downtown offices.

Gensler crafted the project brief. Using past advertising firm clients as subjects for the investigation, each student team developed a schematic design using the same program and the same building, but with a different advertising agency as a client. Students conducted the design process using a variety of investigations into clients and into shaping interior spaces using a palette of space, materiality, light, and acoustics. The variety and development of the responses were quite successful. Students were able to create interior environments that embraced the company culture and responded to user needs, while proposing a new and fresh look at workplace environments.

During the Spring 2014 semester, first-year Master of Interior Architecture candidates studied Graduate Design 2: Workplace Design under the guidance of Gensler.

Gensler is a global architectural design firm that has more than 40 offices around the world in 112 counties and more than 2,400 clients. Gensler specializes in more than 25 practice areas, among them workplace design, brand strategy, environmental design graphics, and product design. The firm’s pool of clients include companies such as Citibank, TotalBank, Chase, DLA Piper Global Law Firm, Starbucks (Southeast Region), Porsche (Latin American showrooms) and Gap. Gensler was listed as the top architectural firm (out of 300 listed) by Architectural Record in 2013. The firm expects to double in size by the year 2030.

Gensler’s Miami offices – led by Diana Farmer-Gonzalez (FIU MIA ’96), IIDA, AAIA, Office Director/Design Director – recently designed the Fort Lauderdale headquarters for Zimmerman Advertising, which is the largest advertising agency in the Southeast. The Miami office of Gensler has also worked with Univision, Bloomberg, and Discovery Channel. Gensler’s Miami office specializes in Workplace design (Creative Media, Professional Service Firms, Financial Services, and Headquarters), Retail and Brand Design, Hospitality, and, most recently, Mixed Use projects. The Miami office works with global clients in Miami /South Florida and in Latin America. The Gensler Miami office is made up of a team of registered architects and interior designers, graphic designers, brand designers, technical designers, and LEED accredited professionals.

All FIU alumni that work at Gensler’s Miami offices have received scholarships from the FIU Interior Architecture Department. For this reason, Farmer-Gonzalez chose to help FIU Interior Architecture teach its MIA candidates the studio on Workplace Design. “It’s really important for us to give back to the community and to the university with our time and talents through teaching as well as through contributing to future scholarships for the School of Architecture and the Arts. It’s part of our mission as a studio; it’s part of the mission for Gensler as a whole to be part of the many aspects of our community, with design education being at the top of the list.” Farmer-Gonzalez graduated Summa Cum Laude from Florida International University in 1996 with a Master of Interior Architecture, and she has also served on the Advisory Board of FIU Interior Architecture, next to Janine King, Chair and has worked as a teaching assistant and as adjunct faculty for the Department.

When reflecting on the work of the MIA candidates in Graduate Design 2: Workplace Design, Farmer-Gonzalez said she is impressed by “[t]he level of world experience and access to information that the students have.” She said, “[I]t was very interesting…to see that a lot of the students in this class have studied something else besides architecture and interiors, and have decided to go back to school to study interior architecture. So, it was a very rich talent pool for ideation.” She mentioned that this quality was important for the projects assigned to the students, which was to research a list of advertising agencies created for the class. Each team of MIA students was given a floor plan of their assigned advertising agency on which to base their project. Farmer-Gonzalez said, “The worldview and the point of view from design is very rich [among the students]….[T]he research projects were exceptional.”

Farmer-Gonzalez explained how the mission of Gensler transfers into its collaboration with the FIU Interior Architecture Department. “How are you creating a design experience that actually affects work and business metrics and the experience[,] health and well-being of a person[. Also,] how can we give back to the community that educated us…?”

This is the first semester that Gensler teaches Graduate Design 2: Workplace Design with the FIU Interior Architecture Department. The Gensler teaching team for this studio includes:

Walter Trujillo, AIA, Principal + Design Director – Gensler Florida (Lectures and class overview)
Diana Farmer-Gonzalez, IIDA, AAIA, Office Director / Design Director – Gensler Miami Office (Co-Leading Gensler Teaching team)
Tari Pelaez, Designer (Leading Gensler Teaching + Mentor Team, Student Mentor)
Eduardo Meza – Sr. Designer – (Lectures and design overview, Student Mentor)
Vera Fernandez-Villegas – Technical Designer/Project Manager (Student Mentor- Co Leading Student Critiques)
Alejandra Stiefel – Designer (Student Mentor)
Vanessa Rubio – Technical Designer (Student Mentor)

The FIU alumni that currently work at Gensler’s Miami offices are:

 Shayan Khalilahmadi (Design Intern, Masters of Interior Architecture – Class of 2014)
Ana Costanzo (Masters of Interior Architecture – Class of 2013)
Tari Pelaez (Masters of Arts, Interior Design – Class of 2011)
Alejandra Stiefel (Interior Design – Class of 2005)
Norma Galella (Interior Design  – Class of 2005)
Vera Fernandez-Villegas (Architecture – Class of 2005)
Eva Fernandez (Architecture – Class of 2005)
Diana Farmer-Gonzalez (Interior Design  – Class of 1996)
John Naranjo (Architecture Technology – Class of 1990)

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Students recognized at FIU School of Architecture Graduate Awards

The FIU Interior Architecture Department emphasizes student-centered education. To achieve this, the FIU SOA combines the best of both worlds: the expansive experience of a large state university, and the more nuanced, personalized education of a smaller university setting. These attributes were well conveyed at the FIU School of Architecture Spring 2014 Graduate Awards ceremony, which took place on Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 at the Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture building. Later that same day, the Spring 2014 graduates from the School of Architecture walked with their cap and gown and received their degrees at FIU’s U.S. Century Bank Arena.

The SOA ceremony was a celebration for the graduates, as the faculty wished them the best in their professional careers post-academia. The Graduate Awards ceremony, also, recognized graduates of outstanding academic merit and service to the FIU community.

The following students were recognized by the FIU College of Architecture + The Arts Department of Interior Architecture.

Design Excellence, for sustained distinction in design
Mary Basile
Ilanit Cohen
Luisa Lashman
Andrea Moreno

Scholarship, for the highest grade point averages
Ilanit Cohen
Luisa Lashman

Application of Research, for demonstration of scholarship and exceptional use of environment and behavior research for a Masters project
Mary Basile
Victoria Heredia
Luisa Lashman
Rania Salem

Cruise Ship and Super Yacht Design Certificate Program
Mary Basile
Kemo Duddle
Jacqueline Esteban
Carmen Ferrer
Shayan Khalilahmadi
Luisa Lashman
Mitzy Molina
Leilani Orosa

We would also like to thank mentors and jurors that participated in the Department of Interior Architecture Master Project Super Jury!


Jennifer Benjamin-Castineira, Zyscovich
Lorraine Bragg, Heery / S&G
Jenifer Briley, jenifer briley + associates
Marisol Creed, Creed Fushion
Vera Fernandez-Villegas, Gensler
Kate Healy, Touzet Studio
Bondeson John, RTKL
Liliana Korn Custy, Korn Interior Design, Inc.
Claudia Machado, RTKL
Yaprak Markeset, Assemblage Collective

Kenzie Perry, Hospitality Purveyors, Inc. / Sandals


Nic Baker, Studio nb3
Tim Blair, HOK
Robert Blakeslee, Blakeslee Design

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Students and Alumni at RTKL for Cruise Ship and Super Yacht Project

RTKL, in coordination with Janine King, Chair of the Interior Architecture Department and Associate Professor, is currently teaching the studio involved in the CSSY Design Certificate program. RTKL is a global design practice, with offices across the globe in locations like Baltimore, Chicago, São Paulo, London, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Beijing. The firm designs for retail projects, entertainment projects, hotels, corporate offices, and healthcare facilities, among other venues. RTKL also works with cruise ship companies, and it is for this reason that the firm decided to join FIU in teaching Interior Architecture students taking the CSSY certificate program, which is the only one of its kind in the United States. The entire RTKL team, which includes FIU alumni, mentors the ten students that attend classes at the Coral Gables offices every two weeks.

RTKL has long supported the Interior Architecture Department’s Cruise Ship and Super Yacht design program. Greg Walton, Vice President of RTKL Miami, taught the one of the first studios at FIU dealing with cruise ship interior design. He is proud to continue this connection between RTKL and FIU College of Architecture + The Arts. “I think it’s really beneficial for the students,” said Walton. “We decide to give them a ‘real world’ assignment….” Walton explained how, in one instance, RTKL assigned the students to redesign a state room on existing plaza vessels for the Chinese market, an actual project presented to the firm by Royal Caribbean. Walton explained how the students, divided into groups of two, were assigned to produce budgets and adjust to the professional time frames. He was impressed by the outcome of the assignment. “They all looked like they came from a professional office….They all really thought outside of the box, which is part of the assignment….Each team of two did an amazing job.” Walton noticed how exposing the students to a professional environment encourages them to work even harder. “It is a very talented group of students,” he said. “We [at RTKL] were quite impressed.”

Walton considers the FIU students enthusiastic and exceptional. “…[B]y being involved with a school like FIU and a program like this…it keeps our eye on who’s coming out of school and who we would like to have come and work here [at RTKL]. We have a lot of employees that went to FIU that work here, and so, it’s nice to say, We get the cream of the crop….'”

On Tuesday, April 15, the CSSY students will present designs of a small spa on one of the ships RTKL has worked on for Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Students are assigned a small space within the spa to design.

The Interior Architecture students participating in the Cruise Ship and Super Yacht Design Certificate Program are:

Jennifer Doval
Alejandra Saul
Carla Noriega
Dianne Lander
Michelle Jardine
Antonella Jahn
Cecilia Perez
Aida Lora
Patricia Saucedo
Tatiana Ovalle

The featured image includes the following alumni that currently work at RTKL Miami (left to right): Susana Neira (MArch ’11), Sabrina Ocner (MIA ’12), Jorge Mesa (BID ’09), Tania Pinacho (BID ’07), Christie Ramos (BID ’02), Romina Vignolo (MIA ’13), and Johanna Rodriguez (BID ’11).

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Students and Faculty participate in the 4th annual Cultural Exchange Workshops

Preparing students for a future in the cruise ship and super yacht design industry is a goal of the College of Architecture + The Arts Interior Architecture’s Certificate in Cruise Ship and Super Yacht Design (CSSY). Students in this certificate program have just returned from a cultural exchange and study abroad program, in which they visited the cities of La Spezia, Florence, Rome, and Papenburg, Germany. The trip was organized by the FIU Department of Interior Architecture in partnership with University of Genoa’s Naval Architecture program at Promostudi La Spezia Polo Universtario ‘G. Marconi’ campus., and Royal Caribbean. As a part of the CSSY program, an Italian Cultural Exchange Workshop occurs in the spring semester: FIU interior architecture students travel to Italy to work with Italian students and faculty and to learn yacht and cruise ship design, and naval architecture faculty and students from the University of Genoa visit FIU in the port city of Miami to learn the same.

In the week-long workshops, students from different countries work in teams on design projects. At the end of the workshops, they present their work to industry experts who help guide their learning experience. In addition to team projects, the workshops include trips to shipyards, boat shows, and lectures by leading designers and manufacturers. “There is nothing that compares to learning-by-doing,” says Janine King, Chair of the Department of Interior Architecture. “This is a very rich and important learning experience for our students.”

Upon completion of the week-long workshop in La Spezia, the group traveled to Papenburg, Germany where the Meyer Werft Company is building the next Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Coordinated through our alumni, Kelly Gonzalez, Vice-President, Architectural Design, Newbuilding & Fleet Design at Royal Caribbean, students received a tour of the shipyard, toured Royal Caribbean’s site office at the yard, climbed aboard the new ship under construction and also toured the full-scale mock-up room. This was an unique, exciting and informative trip for these talented students many of whom will be the next generation of designers in this growing industry.

The featured image is of Interior Architecture CSSY students visiting Azimut | Benetti in Viareggio, Italy

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Eco-Couture Fashion Show Draws Large Crowds, Winners Announced!

With more than 300 visitors, the Eco-Couture Recycled Fashion Show, created and organized by graduating Architecture student Amira Ajlouni, was a resounding success.  On Thursday, March 27th, a large crowd gathered in the Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture courtyard to witness the first of hopefully many more events like this.

The evening started with the USGBC South Florida Chapter’s GREENworking social, which was held underneath a canopy of woven plastic bags, custom-made for the event.  Blue lighting, music, 30 chairs fabricated from salvaged and recycled wood by John Gioiello (ARC) and Martina Gonzalez (LAA), made for an elaborate display and transformed the courtyard into a dreamy environment. The fashion show started at 8:30PM, and was comprised by thirty-five entries that used recycled materials to create various types of apparel.  An illuminated runway guided the models through the courtyard.  The group of models included Associate Professor Gray Read, who wore a full paper outfit created by Amira Ajlouni.  The evening ended with the AIAS FIU Chapter’s Archi-Prom after-party to celebrate the end of the semester.

The winners of the fashion show competition were the following:

Claudia Fernandez and Jorge Rodriguez (ARC): first prize: $1000-split
Ana Maria Reyes (ARC): second prize: $500
Jennifer Luis (ARC): third prize: $250

Aljouni organized the fashion show as a part of her thesis project and worked closely with the Florida International University Office of Sustainability.  After months of careful planning and preparation, Aljouni said that she was proud of the event, stating:

“…I am very happy with the results. The students’ work was well designed, the materials they used were unique, and the way they used them was innovative. Furthermore, the presentation and modeling were high quality, very impressive. The attendance was amazing….While we started setting up for the event, random volunteer students pitched in, the collaborative spirit … was great, and the courtyard never looked so lively. I am happy with the way the building was used [and how] every balcony and stair was occupied….[A]ll installations looked better than expected[;] for example, the 800-plastic bag canopy was a big hit. It was moving with the wind, it filtered light to the ground beautifully, and it created a nice ambiance below it.”

She added, “I wanted people to see recycled materials in a different light, and I think that worked out. I also wanted people to be inspired, and…that worked. Finally, I wanted to start a tradition.”

The images in this article are provided by the Eco-Couture FIU’s Facebook page.

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Professor Rifkind and Students Honored at Alpha Rho Chi Centennial Convention

The national professional co-educational fraternity open to students in architecture and the allied arts, Alpha Rho Chi, honored Associate Professor David Rifkind with the organization’s highest award, the Gold Medal, at its centennial convention last week. Professor Rifkind was initiated into FIU’s Alpha Rho Chi chapter, Nicon, last year as one of two faculty brothers, along with Malik Benjamin, Faculty Advisor for the APX Chapter at FIU and Instructor/Director of Program Innovation at the College of Architecture + The Arts. The Alpha Rho Chi Gold Medal requires the approval of at least three-quarters of the fraternity’s chapters and alumni associations, which demonstrates the commitment of FIU students in recognizing their faculty. This is the first award of the Gold Medal in the past 15 years. Previous winners include I.M. Pei, R. Buckminster Fuller and Samuel Balen, FAIA.

[link: http://www.alpharhochi.org/medal/rifkindgoldmedal.shtml]

FIU architecture student Eneida Piñon, the Worthy Architect of Nicon Chapter, was named one of three John R. Ross Scholars at the banquet celebrating Alpha Rho Chi’s centennial. Piñon was cited for her tremendous service to the her fellow students and to the university. Her award includes a scholarship of $2,500 from the Alpha Rho Chi Foundation.

[link: https://twitter.com/alpharhochi/statuses/447545359930109952]

The FIU Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Landscape Architecture students who comprise Nicon Chapter were recognized with the annual “So” Whitten Award as the APX chapter with the highest cumulative grade point average. The honor demonstrates our students’ commitment to academic excellence, alongside their collegiality and devotion to fostering an academic community.

[link: https://twitter.com/alpharhochi/statuses/447547607582523392]

Additionally, Kristen Argalas (MAA ’13)was elected the Worthy Grand Scribe (National Secretary) position in the grand council, and the Nicon Alumni Association was approved.

This article was written by David Rifkind, Associate Professor and Malik Benjamin, Instructor and Director of Program Innovation, and posted by Juan Brizuela.

2014-03-22 21.27.39

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COMPLAINT – Spring Design Charrette Exhibiton a Success at MBUS

IMG_2085On March 19th, More than fifty visitors flooded into the College of Architecture + The Arts | Miami Beach Urban Studios Architecture gallery for the COMPLAINT – Spring Design Charrette exhibition.

The purpose behind this charrette was described by the following statement:

“The complaint? It is the pavilion at the western intersection of Lincoln Road and Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, which FIU’s Department of Architecture calls ‘one of the most disappointing public spaces at the most important intersection of Miami Beach.’ The solution? Thirty teams of FIU architecture and design students conducted a charrette to brainstorm alternatives. The winning proposals are on view at FIU’s Miami Beach Urban Studios SOA Gallery.”

Visitors viewed the first-prize winner of the charrette and also viewed the works of the second- and third-place winners and the honorable mentions.

IMG_2062FIRST PLACE ($1000)
THE AMOEBA / Tactile Installation at Lincoln Road and Washington Avenue
Team Members: Anabel Mendt, Carolina Papale, Italo Perez, Jasha Salas
Instructor: Michael Repovich

Team Members: Anica Lompre , Eileen Nunes, Joaquin Pineda, Miguel Pio, Kurt Shubert
Instructor: Brett Moss

Team Members: Aileen Zeigen, Jihan El Abbadi, Patricia Saucedo, Edgardo Betancourt
Instructor: Brett Moss

Team Members: Vanessa Salcedo, Jackie Rowe, Yanelys Rosua, Jaime Vado, Kevin Vildasola
Instructor: Olivia Ramos

Team Members: Ruth Brooks, Dominique Chalmers, Ivie Ijewere, Eliana Izza, Tatiana Ovalle
Instructor: Cynthia Ottchen

Team Members: Maria de Fatima Montoya, Anyeli Silva, Kevin Tenor, Jesus Vega
Instructor: Gianno Feoli

Team Members: Haley Perry, Carly Kruger, Dianne Lander, Andrea Rivera
Instructor: Mark Marine

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Eco-Couture Show, March 27th

On March 27th, the FIU School of Architecture will hold the Eco-Couture FIU Recycled Fashion Show.

It is the first FIU recycling fashion show. The event will include a live runway, along with a USGBC South Florida Chapter’s GREENworking social and the AIAS FIU Chapter’s Archi-Prom after-party to celebrate the end of the semester.

The person behind the Eco-Couture Fashion Show is graduate architecture student Amira Ajlouni, who is working closely with the Florida International University Office of Sustainability. This fashion show is part of her thesis project.

Scholarships will be awarded to the winners of the fashion show, which will include thirty-five outfits in total.

Please RSVP to this event at http://goo.gl/cv5wnC. For any question regarding this event, contact ecocouturefiu@gmail.com.

The Eco-Couture FIU Recycled Fashion Show will take place on Thursday, March 27th at 7:30PM, at the Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture Building courtyard: 11200 SW 8 Street, Miami, FL 33174.

Free and open to the public. Complimentary parking is available at the FIU Red Garage, floors 4-6.

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