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Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center faculty, students win design awards

March 9, 2016

Editor's note (May 10, 2016): An incorrect photo of Ryan Pieper’s "Swing Lamp” was originally submitted and published with this story. It has been removed.

Ryan Pieper, an instructor at Virginia Tech’s Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center, has received the grand prize in the Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects Re-Form Design Competition for his “Swing Lamp” design.

The Swing Lamp is a responsive lamp where the brightness of the bulb is determined by its pointed position. “I began researching antiquated methods of lighting a room such as placing a torch on the wall, using a reflective surface with candles, lighting a gas lamp, and so on,” Pieper said. “It was the interactive aspect that I found appealing as I soon focused on that, making it the driving force behind the design.”

Piper’s prize includes travel to the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City this May with Price Modern, including tours of noted design houses Poltrona Frau, Cappellini and Cassina. “I thought the brief was in line with design problems that I like to solve,” Pieper said. “Since I am not an architect, it was interesting to see the AIA sponsoring a furniture and product competition.”

Though sponsored by an architecture association, according to the organization’s goals for the competition, it was extended to, “every design professional from any organization that is excited about design and innovation.”

The Washington-Alexandria Architecture was well represented in the competition, including two student projects that made it to the finals: “Infill Hook” by Gabrielle Pearce, Nabila Sarker, and Daria Gelman and “Wall Flower” by Jack Gamboa, Rudy Abbot, and Carolin Stabitz.    

 “I am very proud of my students who were also finalists in the competition. They worked incredibly hard and produced some amazing work,” Pieper said. “Six of the ten finalists were associated with Virginia Tech, and I think that is really saying something about our presence in the DC-Metro area.”

Pieper was born and raised in the Washington D.C. area, and later moved to Michigan where he earned his BFA in Furniture Design from Kendall College of Art and an MFA in 3D Design from the Cranbook Academy of Art.

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