Student’s Design Sparks Judges Praise at National Interior Design Competition

Back and white protrait of Kevin

Student’s Design Sparks Judges Praise at National Interior Design Competition

Emberside earned Kevin Gerbrandt third place at the Bienenstock Library in High Point

Kevin Gerbrandt, second year architecture student at Forsyth Technical Community College, won third place and a $1,000 scholarship in the Bienenstock Library national interior design competition in High Point in March. This was the first year the judges awarded a third-place prize as they felt Gerbrandt’s design deserved recognition.

“Throughout his time here at Forsyth Technical Community College, Kevin has shown an advance level of ability within his architectural studies,” said Ja’Maul Redmond, Architecture Technology instructor. “His competition entry demonstrated his ability to thoroughly develop a concept from beginning to end as well as complete a complex set of working drawings and schedules.”

Following the competition’s theme of designing a youth camp, Gerbrandt designed “Emberside” as a unique place for traditional and special needs youth campers.

In his design statement, Gerbrandt described his motivation, “In a world where we — and especially our youth — are more digitally connected than ever, we are experiencing more loneliness and isolation than ever. Responding to the problem of this epidemic lies at the at the heart of my solution: to design a space in which our youth can build more authentic relationships with one another through increased connectivity not through technology, but through the land and the natural environment they inhabit.”

The inspiration for Emberside came from the civilizations and architecture of the indigenous people of North America. Originally from Canada, Gerbrandt explains, “the First Nations were and continue to be close-knit communities that are highly connected to the land they inhabit, aware of the many ways Mother Nature occupies all senses.

“The mission of Emberside is to foster a connection to each other and to the land through multisensory design gestures that are organized around the hearth  as the center of the community. “

For the competition, students are given the envelope or the shell of the building along with the square footage of the required spaces where they design two floors of the interior and the exterior of the building.

As a semester-long project, students create their design individually, and receive feedback from Forsyth Tech instructors and students. Design projects are judged internally (in a blind competition) and five are submitted to the competition.

This is a second-career path for Gerbrandt who has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies and Theology from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He met his wife in college and they relocated to Winston-Salem. Once here, Gerbrandt said he was interested in becoming bi-vocational, combining ministry with a second career.

“I thought I would try Forsyth Tech and take architectural studies,” said Gerbrandt. “I see the importance of architecture and design related to theology in a holistic way. It’s one of the ways we care for the spiritual and the physical needs of people in our cities and our world.”

“I found the instructors and my experience here have surpassed my expectations. Forsyth Tech is a  hidden jewel in Winston-Salem.”

Gerbrandt plans to graduate in May and hopes to begin working for an architecture firm.

The Architectural Technology Program at Forsyth Tech, 40 years running,  provides the strong foundations required to excel both in a professional setting as well as at the University level.  In order to implement a successful curriculum and approach, it is most important to have a solid and experienced team of faculty. This team must not only share a similar vision but work well together with the common goal of providing the best opportunity for student success.