LSU Architecture Graduate Students Place in 2012–13 International Student Ideas Competition

 [portfolio_slideshow id=3372]Marcia Gibson and Kerry Kenney, two recent graduates of the Master of Architecture program at LSU, placed in the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture 2012–13 International Student Ideas Competition, “Preservation as Provocation: Rethinking Castle Pinckney for the 21st Century.”

Marcia Gibson placed third in the competition for her proposal, “The Embattlement: Re-Designing the Future of Castle Pinckney,” and was awarded a cash prize of $1,500. Kerry Kenney received an honorable mention for his proposal, “The ArtifACT of Preserving.”

Ursula Emery McClure, A. Hays Town Professor at the LSU School of Architecture, was the faculty sponsor for Gibson and Kenney. Gibson and Kenney completed the work for the project in the design studio course ARCH 7006, which was financially sponsored by the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio (CSS). The funds provided by CSS sponsored the students’ field visit to Charleston, South Carolina, providing land and water transportation, gas, tours, and lodging. CSS also funded the competition publication for each student and the companion costs of expert guests for the students’ design jury.

The competition was administered by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and the American Institute of Architects Historic Resources Committee (AIA/HRC) and was sponsored by the National Center for Technology and Preservation and Technology Training (NCPTT) and the Clemson University/College of Charleston Graduate Program in Historic Preservation.

A group of three jurors selected five winners—three top prizes and two honorable mentions—from more than 120 entries. The winning projects submitted by LSU School of Architecture graduate students Gibson and Kenney accounted for 20 percent of a 4 percent acceptance rate.

The International Student Ideas Competition was intended to challenge students in multi-disciplinary teams in the fields of architecture, preservation, landscape architecture, urban planning, engineering, and other cross disciplines. In this year’s competition, students were asked to rethink Castle Pinckney, an abandoned, early 19th-century fort situated on Shute’s Folly, an island within view of Charleston, South Carolina, one of the nation’s most historic and well-preserved cities.

However evocatively situated, Castle Pinckney’s history and significance are virtually unknown to Charleston residents, visitors, and tourists. Participants in the competition were challenged to preserve, interpret, and re-imagine the site as an eco-tourist and educational destination while representing the history of the country’s early attempts to create a federal defense system.

Built in 1809, Castle Pinckney is one of only three surviving examples of an American “castle.” The fort played a minor role during the American Civil War and was subsequently decommissioned. Due to lack of funding, Castle Pinckney has languished in abandonment for over a century.

In 2011, the Historic American Buildings Survey and the Master of Science in Historic Preservation program at Clemson University/College of Charleston undertook a documentation project to bring attention to this endangered resource. The “Preservation as Provocation” Student Ideas Competition was held to explore ideas for the adaptive reinvention of the site.

Students participating in the project faced several uncertain and problematic obstacles. First of all, the fort is only accessible by boat, and there is no dock on Shute’s Folly Island. The island itself is low-lying and marshy and covered in dense growth. Vegetation is another problem, with numerous plants, even trees, growing out of the top of the fort’s walls. And finally, Charleston is prone to hurricanes and rising sea levels—water at high tide currently reaches the bottom of the fort’s walls.

Students were asked to seek solutions that would explore the issues of access, energy consumption, changing climate patterns, water management, land use, and habitat protection while examining the relationship between architectural and landscape preservation and design. Gibson and Kenney submitted two very different but equally creative solutions.

Gibson’s proposal, “The Embattlement: Re-Designing the Future of Castle Pinckney,” originated from the new formation of land to add elevation to the exposed island and castle. “This intervention creates a berm surrounding Castle Pinckney, offering protection to the vulnerable fort from the natural elements that weaken the integrity of the structure,” stated Gibson. “By building up the land around the fort, an opportunity occurred to place the program within the berm. This action hides the visitor facilities from the harbor, but once inside, reveals Castle Pinckney in a formal tribute,” she added.

Kenney’s entry, “The ArtifACT of Preserving,” proposed a series of pavilions that introduce the history of Charleston’s fortifications in a fashion identical to the chronological order that attacking ships would be introduced to each defense fortress. “As visitors traverse the museum, building components are used as a method to display the different harbor artifacts. Beginning with Fort Moultrie and ending with Charleston Harbor, each pavilion focuses the visitor on a singular fortification present in the surrounding landscape,” said Kenney. “Composed of local materiality, the pavilions also act to display the materiality of the region. ‘The ArtifACT of Preserving’ project attempts to clarify and maintain the unique identity of this historic military system.”

Each presentation included a site plan, floor plans, elevations and building sections, large-scale drawings, a three-dimensional representation, and at least one digital board, illustrating alterations to the existing fort structure.

The students’ presentations and proposals were submitted in May 2013. Jurors met to review entries in July, and winners were officially announced in September 2013. The winning projects will be displayed at the ACSA Annual Meeting in Miami in April 2014 and at the AIA Convention in Chicago in June 2014.

For more information, visit ACSA’s website at

About the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA)
The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) is a non-profit membership association founded in 1912 to advance the quality of architectural education. The school membership in ACSA has grown from 10 charter members to over 250 schools in several membership categories throughout the world. Through these schools, over 5,000 architecture faculty are represented. ACSA provides a major forum for ideas on the leading edge of architectural thought. For more information, visit

About the American Institute of Architects, Historical Resources Committee (AIA/HRC)
Since 1857, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has represented the professional interests of America’s architects. More than 83,000 licensed architects, emerging professionals, and allied partners are members of AIA. The mission of the Historic Resources Committee (HRC) is to identify, understand, and preserve architectural heritage, both nationally and internationally. The educational goal of HRC is to integrate an understanding of preservation practice into the preparation of all architects and to demonstrate that the design values for practice are universal. For more information, visit

About the LSU School of Architecture Graduate Program
The LSU School of Architecture Graduate Program focuses on engaging students and faculty who share interests in design and the built environment. The backbone of the Master of Architecture program is the Design Studio, where students engage in the design education process. The graduate program integrates innovative design with technical, social, and practical concerns to address complex global conditions. Courses and studios focused on history, theory, sustainability, digital media, and community design provide the knowledge to concentrate on solving real-life problems in the built environment. Studio projects focus on spatial design, Louisiana coastal issues, and community design efforts. For more information, visit

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