CHAMPAIGN – This Assembly Hall didn't need to be painted orange.
It was already grown that way.
The "building" – a pumpkin – was created as part of "Jack 'o' Architect," an Architecture 101 project assigned by Professor Michael Andrejasich at the University of Illinois. Along with several dozen other designer pumpkins, the project was displayed and judged at the university's Temple Hoyne Buell Hall on Monday afternoon.
For the assignment, students carved pumpkins in the shape of famous architects or their designs. According to Andrejasich, "Jack 'o' Architect" gave students the opportunity to go through a process typical to how professional architects approach a design – with a bonus.
"There is certainly an element of fun for this," Andrejasich said.
More than 200 students researched architects and their works, translated a portrait or building into sketches, then used "craft, creativity and cleverness – the three C's," Andrejasich said, to create their three-dimensional, partially-edible design.
"It's just a taste, maybe, of what's ahead of them," Andrejasich said.
Freshmen Luke Karcher, Brian Turcza and Morgan Van Horn were assigned to research and design a structure based on the late Max Abramovitz, a UI alumnus and the Assembly Hall's architect.
They found the famous edge-supported dome ideal for pumpkification.
"I think that, really, Assembly Hall lends itself into being made into a Jack-o'-lantern," Turcza said, pointing to the pumpkin's curvy roof. Its squat bottom half, complete with windows, was carved out of the gourd's interior and tiny pieces of paper, indicating the building's doors.
The project also served as a contest, with the designers of three of the pumpkins going home with gift certificates to the Illini Union Bookstore.
Grant Ullrich, a graduate student in architecture and law and co-president of the Architecture Student Advisory Council, helped judge the contest with several other graduate students.
He found his work cut out for him.
Choosing the three top pumpkins, Ullrich looked for clean lines, three-dimensionality and, of course, resemblance to the chosen topic. And then he and the other judges had to agree on winners.
Though Ullrich admired the Assembly Hall pumpkin, it lost points for those paper doors. "It was a very nice pumpkin," he said, "but it wasn't all pumpkin."
The winners were intricately detailed and exquisitely rendered works of art, design and pumpkin flesh.
Students Ghaea Kang and Melanie Hunter took first prize for their pumpkin duo of architect Bart Prince and his studio. Second place was shared by two pumpkins: "Wohnhaus," designed by Ana Maguin and Danielle Quivey based on a building by architect Gustav Peichl; and a portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright by Tim Ozog and Denver Rassi.
In addition to learning lessons of design and process, students also confronted the reality of the field. After spending weeks planning and hours carving, they'll have to let go of their perishable portraits.
But, thankfully, not until after Halloween.