September 2013, Volume 17, Number 3

Making Their Mark

Harmonious Designs Win Coveted Awards

Envisioning a more tranquil world of increasing dialogue and understanding, 35 MDC students recently created inspiring designs for an interfaith “Peace Center” that intrigued the jury at a prestigious architecture competition sponsored by the Global Education and Learning Foundation and co-sponsored by Key Biscayne Community Foundation.

After the votes were tallied, two Miami Dade College students were declared the winners, with both Rachel Salazar and Maydelis Quesada sharing first-place honors.

Intense Work

The idea for all 35 students’ projects, which took nine weeks to complete, germinated in the classroom of MDC Professor Amar Sawhney. In nine years of directing study abroad programs for MDC architecture students, he has conducted research on various religious structures, which he shared with his students when asking them to design a Peace Center for their final class project.

As part of their investigative work for the project, the students visited local churches, temples, synagogues and mosques to study their features.

Catching the Eye of Top Schools

The demanding architects and engineers on the jury were so impressed with the MDC work that several students were awarded scholarships largely because of the projects they presented at the competition. Six students walked away with invitations to the award-winning Pratt Institute, and four to Syracuse University’s renowned Architecture Department.

Sawhney, who has taught architecture at MDC for 40 years and been the recipient of two Endowed Teaching Chairs, hopes these talented students will take the insights gathered from their projects into their future designs.

“With all the conflicts around the world, I wanted our young people to learn about different cultures and have a sense of tolerance of all religions,” Sawhney said. “I wanted them to create a space where people could meet to discuss their beliefs and hopefully leave with a better understanding of one another and the world.”

— WV

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