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Student Redesigns Popular USU Courtyard, Winners Announced

Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014

award announcement for the Chase Fine Arts Center Courtyard design competition

Winner Carson Lindley is congratulated by College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences Dean Ken White (left) as Caine College of the Arts Dean Craig Jessop looks on. (photo by Gary Neuenswander)

competition winner Carson Lindley with his design

Lindley stands by his award winning design after it was selected as the top design in the competition. (photo by Gary Neuenswander)

The Chase Fine Arts Courtyard at Utah State University will soon receive a new look thanks to a student designer who took top honors at a design competition. The top design was announced Thursday, Jan. 23, during a press conference.

“When we design spaces on campus, we should make sure we take advantage of all of the brain power we have here,” Sean Michael, department head for landscape architecture and environmental planning, said.

The Fine Arts Courtyard Design Competition, hosted by LAEP, based in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, and the Caine College of the Arts, began in November with 34 submissions of potential designs for the well-used and well-known space.

Those several submissions were narrowed to just six by a panel made up of professors, professional architects, department heads, deans and a museum curator. During the winter break, those six finalists were able to apply comments and suggestions from the judges into their final presentations.

Those six finalists were then invited to present their final designs Jan. 13. The designs were judged again on creativity, recognition of project goals and objectives and sustainability.

Devon Gibby, an alumnus of LAEP, teamed up with former classmate Sean King for the project. Together they created a design that placed third.  Although Gibby said there was a lot to take into account while designing the space, he also said that he “had a fun time with it.”

“It was a lot of fun to be able to just find a unique way of merging the style of the existing building with the new architecture,” he added. “It was fun to try and bring the space up to more contemporary styles of the day.”

The winner of the competition, undergraduate Carson Lindley, will receive $1,750 and his submission will be implemented into the courtyard’s new design. Although the cash prize is a nice incentive, Gibby said, the true value lies in the real-world experience gained through this process.

“I knew that it would be good experience with designing a real site,” he said. “It’s a site that I’m very familiar with, having gone to class here, and I thought it would be not only fun, but a good portfolio booster.”

Kris Kvarfordt, an LAEP adjunct professor and competition co-coordinator, agreed.

“I think that just kind of going the extra mile and submitting for the competition, it’s been a portfolio piece for those people involved that they can take and say ‘this is above and beyond,’” he said.

Kvarfordt also said that the winners and finalists aren’t the only ones who should be proud of their work. Each entry will contribute to the final product in one way or another.

“Every single one of them was a great contribution to the process,” he said. “Even the ones that aren’t selected are still informing the process to some point.”

Competition Winners:

First Place ($1,750) — Carson Lindley

Lindley is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture with a minor in ornamental horticulture.With plans to pursue a master’s degree after graduation, he aspires to build and establish his own international design firm to create inspirational landscapes around the world.

Second Place ($1,000) — Abram Sorensen

Sorensen, a present undergraduate in landscape architecture, entered the competition because, as he put it, this was “an opportunity that only comes about once in a lifetime.” Sorensen plans to work in a multidisciplinary architecture firm somewhere in the northwest after graduation, focusing on sustainable urban design.

Third Place ($500) — Seth King and Devon Gibby

King, a current landscape architecture undergraduate, and Gibby, an alumnus of the program, teamed up for this competition to continue to develop the skills taught to them in the classroom. After graduation, King plans to work for a year before deciding on a graduate degree, while Gibby currently works for a landscape architecture firm in Millville, Utah.

Fourth Place ($250) — Stephen Peaden

A graduate student in landscape architecture, Peaden took part in the competition because of the value and excitement of designing a place on campus. “It is a much more valuable experience designing for a real place that could actually be built,” Peaden said. “Also, being able to design something for the USU campus is all the more exciting.”

Two Other Finalists:

Chris Binder

Binder, a current graduate student, entered this competition with the goal of influencing the final design to embrace “long-term resiliency while still maintaining its historic strengths.” After graduation, Binder plans to pursue a career in landscape architecture and environmental planning that focuses on public recreational systems and small-scale resilient design.

Nicholas Decker

A junior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture with a minor in art, Decker entered this competition to help improve an important space on campus. After graduation, Decker plans to attend graduate school.

Related links:

Contact: Tiffany Adams, 435-797-7406,

Contact: Denise Albiston, 435-797-1500,

Writer: Writer: Tiffany Adams, 435-797-7406,

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