In one of the first events leading up to its 50th anniversary, College of Architecture and Urban Studies students, faculty, staff, emeritus faculty, and alumni were invited to design competition to create an icon and poster to commemorate the milestone. 

David Spradlin of Manakin-Sabot Va., a senior majoring in visual communication design in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, was awarded a $5,000 scholarship for his winning entry.

Spradlin’s icon design was based on his research on the history of the college and the influence of the Bauhaus on founding dean Charles Burchard, as represented through the streamlined architectural design. He also illustrated a sense of a community and collaboration between the schools within the college by using the interwoven numerals making up the stylized 50.

The jury for the competition comprised renowned designers Sagi Haviv, a partner and designer at Chermayeff & Geismar, a leading graphic design firm in the fields of corporate identity, brand development, and logo design; Lisa Mahar, College of Architecture and Urban Studies alumna and founder of Kid O; and Rocco Piscatello, founder of Piscatello Design Centre, an independent strategy and visual design systems consultancy working for clients and cities worldwide.

When evaluating the designs, the jury considered a number of criteria. They wanted the mark to be a memorable, unique, and appropriate representation of the college for its milestone anniversary, and while artistic merit was an important factor, other key considerations were scalability and versatility, including the potential to be reproduced both two-dimensionally and three-dimensionally.

In his comments following the awards presentation in Cowgill Hall, juror Sagi Haviv offered the full-house crowd his advice on design.

“Always start from an idea — never just do something for decoration. Before you do anything, think of what you want to say, have a strong idea, and then go execute it,” Haviv said. “If there is an idea behind something, it engages the viewer. The viewer has to think something about it, feel something about it; it’s not about beauty … the idea will make it beautiful.”

During their visit to Blacksburg for the awards presentation, the three jurors also gave guest lectures on their own work and experiences and toured the campus, talking with students in industrial design, architecture, and visual communication design and providing feedback and professional advice.

For many participants in the competition, the opportunity to receive feedback from the internationally known designers was its own reward.

“By far the greatest gain from this competition was working and meeting with the jury. It's not every day that you have an opportunity to put your work in front of world-class designers like these,” Spradlin said. “In the context of the competition, [winning] means that I created what the judges saw as the most effective design solution for the icon. So gaining that kind of approval from Rocco, Lisa, and Sagi was a victory right there.”

The following finalists were also recognized by the jury and awarded $500 prizes:

  • Christopher Cureton of Williamsburg, Va., a senior majoring in studio art in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies;
  • Naomi Dam of Fairfax, Va., a 2012 graduate in international studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, who partnered with Nate Navasca, of Virginia Beach, Va., a senior majoring in visual communication design in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies;
  • Carolina Dayer of Mendoza, Argentina, a Ph.D. candidate in architecture and design research in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and graduate teaching assistant at the School of Architecture + Design’s Washington-Alexandria Center; and
  • Meaghan Dee, an assistant professor of practice for the School of Visual Arts in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and director of FourDesign.

A planning committee for the College of Architecture and Urban Studies’ 50th Anniversary Celebration will develop usage guidelines for the winning icon design to promote and commemorate the events and activities surrounding the anniversary.

Jack Davis, dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and Reynolds Metals professor of architecture, presented the awards for the competition. After congratulating the winners, he told the gathered crowd, “This is only the first of a number of events that will occur over the next year and a half leading up to the 50th. The college only experiences this once, so we want all of our constituencies to enjoy it. We plan to make a series of events that are both memorable and meaningful.”