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Graduates Make Their Mark

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design graduate Shirley Loenneker lives in a house with a yard, but wanted to explore how she could fuse the qualities of detached and attached living to create a new type of urban housing focused on adaptability, affordability and community.

That was the premise of her 2012 senior project, in which she created a "vertical neighborhood" prototype. Shirley designed a complex of 600-square-foot, double-height studios that can be added to vertically to adapt to changing needs. For example, you can add a loft and a staircase to each unit, or even an entire second floor, if more space is needed. Many transitions from public to private space and community-building features were included in the design, including multiple gathering/work/gardening spaces, front and back porches, and outdoor kitchen areas.

"I studied various types of co-housing and what works well in dense environments," Shirley said. "I picked up ideas along the way, creating something similar to loft living but more flexible and community-centered."

BFA graduate Mary Yoxen took on a very different senior project, creating an experimental music hub. A former pianist and violinist who comes from a musical family, Mary noted during her project research that while there are plenty of music rehearsal and performance spaces in the Portland area, there is no place to allow musicians to raise the profile of experimental music in all its forms. Her design retrofits an existing building, creating a series of spaces connected by a sculptural stairway and walkways, providing for easy movement and interaction among users. Features include a community lounge, practice/recording studios, an experimental practice studio, theater space, open atrium areas and a music library. Cutting-edge technology is a critical aspect of the space Mary designed, and she also challenged herself to learn more about acoustics and related fields while developing her project.

Mary's project took first place in the large commercial division of a 2012 student competition sponsored by the Oregon chapter of the International Interior Design Association/American Society of Interior Designers.

Shirley and Mary's projects are just two of several created by 2012 BFA in Interior Design candidates. Other students' design projects included:

  • A shelter for female victims of domestic violence
  • An elementary, middle and high school for foster children
  • A collaborative workspace shared by entrepreneurs creating start-up companies
  • A coastal community center that provides emergency housing and recovery support during a natural disaster

The projects are as diverse as the graduates and their career ambitions.

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