AAP Undergrad is Gensler Diversity Award Winner with Boathouse Design
Alejandro Finol (B.Arch. '19) won second prize in Gensler's annual Diversity Scholarship with his design for a rowing boathouse for the Ithaca community. Gensler, the firm of M. Arthur Gensler (B.Arch. '57), created the Diversity Scholarship program in 2009 to recognize emerging talent among architecture and design students from underrepresented communities.
"In a way, what made me the most excited about this process was the validation of my education and that others see the merit in the work I have done," Finol said.
He designed the boathouse as part of a second-year design studio under the direction of Associate Professor Vince Mulcahey.
In a press release, Gensler praised Finol's work as "exceptional." "The submission expertly integrates elements to create an experience that delights, enlightens, and functions in the most beautiful manner possible," it said.
Visiting Critic Leslie Lok assisted Finol with his video submission in the finalist round this January. Finol created a new render for the competition to show the way that the structure connected to the water, and Lok was instrumental in polishing the details of his design and assisting with his video interview.
Finol's boathouse is imagined as staggered, floating mezzanines built to facilitate communication throughout the building, with design specifications to store and maneuver 60' rowing shells.
While the communication aspect was important based on his conversations with rowers, Finol also wanted to make the space memorable, and encourage users to stop and enjoy the view.
Down at the Cayuga inlet where Cornell University and Ithaca College rowing teams have boathouses, Finol was struck by the way that Ithaca's hills make their presence felt as a result of glaciation.
"You look around and you're surrounded in all directions; that emerged as the phenomenological inspiration for the project, making it a space that gives you that same feeling of context as when you're down near Cayuga Lake," Finol said.
He said that he is a fan of simple but powerful designs. For his senior thesis, he is considering exploring the benefits and pitfalls of using parametric design.
Finol will receive a $10,000 scholarship, and the opportunity to intern with Gensler this summer in Costa Rica, where his family lives. The first place winner was Rosa McDonald, a North Carolina State College of Design graduate student. Her winning entry proposed an inclusive community center in Durham, North Carolina.
By Jennifer Wholey