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PCC Architectural Technology Graduate Takes First in Statewide Design Competition

Flanked by PCC instructors Len Van Staalduinen, left, and Matt Amante, Sara Baker holds up the first-place trophy she won at the 2013 North Carolina’s Finest in Residential Design Competition last month.

WINTERVILLE—The N.C. Society of the American Institute of Building Design presented an award last month to recent Pitt Community College Architectural Technology graduate Sara Baker.

During the Society’s quarterly meeting, which took place in Lexington, the organization announced that Baker had been selected to receive the Gold Award in the “Student Project” category of the inaugural North Carolina’s Finest in Residential Design Competition.

“I was actually quite surprised,” Baker said of her award. “I thought I’d just turn it in for fun and simply be excited about being a student member of the American Institute of Building Design, which came as part of the competition entry fee.”

A Greenville native, Baker submitted a design for an art gallery complete with site plan, elevation details, sketch-up model and floor plans.

Len Van Staalduinen, PCC Architectural Technology Department Chair, said Baker’s project called for the creation of a building made out of shipping containers. He said the design featured a “mostly open floor plan,” a central core that doubled as a transportation port (for moving gallery pieces between levels), administrative offices, reception space, and an outdoor patio area at the front entrance.

Matt Amante, an instructor with PCC’s Public Service and Fine Arts Division, played the role of ‘client’ in the development of Baker’s project and created an architectural program, which is a list of requirements for the design to include. He provided Baker with feedback on how well her design was meeting the client’s needs throughout the development process.

Kevin Holdridge, who helped judge the competition, said he and fellow judges felt Baker’s design had “great modern curb appeal” and demonstrated innovative use of the shipping containers.

“This is a very playful design, which fits perfectly for an art gallery,” said Holdridge, owner of Charlotte’s KDH Residential Designs. “It was good to see the process sketches and sections—it shows a nice story of how the design came about.”

A 2007 J.H. Rose High School graduate, the 24-year-old Baker works for Greenville’s RGG Architecture and also serves as a teaching assistant at PCC, where she received an associate degree in May.

“I think I got a great education at PCC,” Baker said. “The Architectural Technology program is set up to give you what you need to know. I graduated and went to work ready to go. I had the skills I needed to go right to work.”

The 2013 North Carolina’s Finest in Residential Design competition was open to North Carolina designers, architects, builders, interior designers, landscapers and students, so long as the design or building of the project submitted was completed after January 2010.