Third-year architecture graduate student wins 2023 Corbelletti Design Charrette
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Abigail Wallar, a third-year master of architecture student in the College of Arts and Architecture’s Stuckeman School at Penn State, was named the winner of the Department of Architecture’s 2023 Corbelletti Design Charrette.
Students submitted designs in an assortment of mediums — paint, graphite and even digital renderings — but Wallar used embroidered thread on fabric.
“I wanted to dive into how embroidery can be used to represent architecture and literally stitch the fabric of the city together,” Wallar, from Zeeland, Michigan, said.
Professor Frank Jacobus, the school’s new Department of Architecture head, was this year’s guest architect for the competition. He assessed the submissions with this year’s jury members: architecture faculty members Brian Peterka, Orsolya Gáspár and Istvan Gyulovics.
“This is a week of celebration, really,” Jacobus said at the introduction of the winner announcement on Aug. 25.
Several events throughout the first week of classes set the tone for the competition, such as the Corbelletti Competition Introduction on Monday, Aug. 21 and Jacobus’ lecture on Wednesday, Aug. 23.
Jacobus’ prompt to the students to which they responded with their designs: “Construct an imaginary city using a piece of music you enjoy.”
“I’ve been interested in the relationship between music and architecture for a long time, it was one of those things that seemed like it could be a chance for students to invest in thinking abstractly,” Jacobus said. “To me, that’s a big, important part of their education for them to learn how to do.”
The French song “Clair de lune, L. 32” by Claude Debussy and Martin Jones inspired Wallar’s winning submission.
“The song, to me, feels very delicate and almost fragile, but it has these very expressive moments,” Wallar said. “It’s a very colorful song in my mind.”
The students’ designs were due on Thursday, Aug. 24 at 5 p.m., and the jury members announced one winner and six honorable mentions the next day at 1:30 p.m. in the Stuckeman Family Building Jury Space, which was packed with students, faculty and staff.
“My hope for the students is that this opens up their ability to engage with the world through the use of metaphor,” Jacobus said.
Jacobus and the jury members revealed the honorable mentions one by one until only Wallar’s design was announced. They discussed elements of each of the designs they selected, focusing on color, medium, relation to the song and abstraction. Jacobus said that he enjoyed the “diversity of work” across all the submissions.
“The proposals ran the gambit: there was anything from the literal — it looked like a city — to it looks like a series of points and lines,” he said.
Andrew Ferreri (fifth-year B.Arch.), Alyssa Penrod (fifth-year B.Arch.), Michael Overdorff (fifth-year B.Arch.), Madison Houck (fifth-year B.Arch.), John Martin (fifth-year B.Arch.) and Tariq Kenanah (third-year M.Arch.) earned honorable mentions.
“It was a really fantastic prompt,” Wallar said. “It was a really inspiring and open-ended prompt; that’s why I felt like I could be bold.”
The Corbelletti Design Charrette, named for past Department of Architecture head Raniero Corbelletti, takes place during the first week of the fall semester, marking the beginning of a new school year for upper-level architecture students.
“[The competition is] important as an acknowledgment of who [Corbelletti] was,” Jacobus said.
The Corbelletti Competition is open to architecture students in their second-year and above. To see the past winning submissions, view the Corbelletti Digital Archives or visit the first floor of the Stuckeman Family Building on the University Park campus to see the submissions in person.