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Window of Opportunity: MANKO window systems makes scholarships a winning proposition

By Hayli Morrison

K-State’s fourth-year architecture students are working for more than a grade in their comprehensive studios this semester. Their designs could win a $5,000 scholarship through a competition sponsored by MANKO Window Systems in Manhattan, Kan.

“It is definitely a major win-win for MANKO and the architecture department,” said Kevin Bahner, a K-State graduate employed as MANKO’s architectural sales representative.

The competition, now in its second year, is the brainchild of Bahner and MANKO President Gary Jones. After years of working with architects and general contractors who graduated from K-State’s College of Architecture, Planning and Design, the family-owned company wanted to connect with students in its own backyard.

“This is a start of something,” Bahner said. “You never know where these students will end up. A majority of them will likely end up in the Midwest, where we’re servicing, and now they know about MANKO.”

In the Department of Architecture’s fourth-year comprehensive studio, students integrate their conceptual and technical knowledge into one complete project. This typically includes a presentation with drawings and renderings to describe their design.

After taking their designs through the concept, testing and detail phases, a total of seven students will be selected to compete for the MANKO award. They will build upon their studio work with a narrative slide presentation before a judging panel comprised of established practitioners in the field.

“The competition serves as one more motivator for students to learn to clearly communicate their design intent,” said competition administrator Nathan Howe, assistant professor of architecture at K-State. “Students are learning through these various mechanisms that to build great buildings one has to be able to clearly describe the idea and create images to get buy-in from the audience.”

Eli Logan, a fifth-year architecture student who competed last fall in the MANKO competition’s inaugural year, agreed the presentation experience was a highlight.

“The best part of the competition is at the end, when the opportunity to present allows another venue for the expression of my ideas. To have feedback from critics who are practitioners was very satisfying for me,” he said. “Understanding how glass structures come together will certainly play a pivotal role in my future career, as glazing is becoming more popular.”

The competition jury last fall included Lou Bieker, principal at 4240 Architecture, Inc. in Denver; Matthew Lawton, partner at Sexton Lawton Architecture, LLC in Denver, and Scott Pashia, a 1992 K-State graduate who is principal at Nevius Serig Palmer Architecture in Overland Park, Kan. The three-member jury assessed the designs based on innovation, quality and use of glass.

“The three judges were incredibly impressed with what the students had done,” Bahner said. “They were just blown away with the detail of the projects. They said it was a very tough decision.”

Huiyuan “Leland” Li won the scholarship award for his design of a fitness center that allows people to do aerobic exercise in a natural way through rock climbing and swimming. For other students, like Logan, the MANKO competition served as a springboard for future competitions. Logan’s design eventually won second place at the American Institute of Architecture Kansas Student Competition.

For the college, the MANKO partnership is a strategic opportunity to enhance its academic reputation and support K-State’s vision to become a top 50 public research university by 2025.

“In inviting guest critics from across the country, the amazing achievements of our students in developing their technical and conceptual knowledge of architecture are reaching a new audience,” Howe said. “It is a terrific opportunity.”

How you can help

If you’d like to support the College of Architecture, Planning and Design, please contact Damon Fairchild at 785-532-7524 or damonf@found.ksu.edu.

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