Graduating architecture students celebrated the culmination of their studies during the 15th annual Chumash Show May 26 to 27 in Chumash Auditorium. Each of the 148 architecture seniors displayed their thesis project at the showcase, which is the largest architectural exhibition between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The show is put on by the Fifth Year Committee, which is composed of student volunteers from the fifth-year class. The committee, in addition to setting up a mentorship program and other smaller shows throughout the year, is responsible for coordinating catering, advertising, space reservation and donations for the Chumash Show.
Amy Rutty, architecture senior and committee member, said she felt the atmosphere in the auditorium reflected the show’s goals.
“The goal at Chumash is being able to showcase and admire,” Rutty said. “Celebrate each other and not just our own work — have a little bit of a party and kind of pull our heads up off our own desks.”
During the first four years of their studies, architecture students have a new studio class every quarter. Within each studio they are assigned a quarter-long project with set parameters. In contrast, fifth-year architecture students remain in the same studio for the entire year and choose their own project parameters for a year-long thesis project. This freedom leads to great diversity in thesis projects at the show.
Embracing the lack of parameters, architecture senior Rodrigo Robles-Gonzalez opted to create machines instead of a building. His machines, which were designed to be useful after an apocalypse, caused a visitor passing by to briefly note that Robles-Gonzalez should go into the movie industry.
“There’s really an interplay between you as a student doing your own thing and being completely independent through your thesis, as well as being in a studio and taking in ideas from other people,” Robles-Gonzalez said. “It’s honestly amazing to see the individuality between people and projects. For me, I love post-apocalyptic narratives and I really got to explore that, where other people wanted to make an impact or focus on playful architecture.”
Intrigued by the combination of rigid and flexible elements within architecture senior Rachel Ferry chose a non-traditional project. Ferry decided to create a kinetic model of housing which could be used during the building of a space elevator.
“I started out with the idea of combating obsolescence in architecture and how frequently we replace buildings. You can install certain devices that can prolong the life of a building or make it more responsive to people’s needs over time,” Ferry said. “I’ve enjoyed [making this] because I like to make many iterations of things and not knowing where I’m going and then figuring it out on the way.”
A 2016 alumnus of the architecture program Shaler Campbell said this year’s Chumash Show had particularly unique projects.
“You talk with other professors and sometimes you see clusters of similar project types,” Campbell said. “This year’s unique in the sense that everything looks wildly different, which is very refreshing to see that students are diverging from what might be perceived as the standard Cal Poly project.”
College of Architecture and Environmental Design Dean Christine Theodoropoulos believes Chumash Show attendees get a peek into the mindsets of fifth-year students.
“What I love about the show is when I walk through, I can see what is on the minds of and what the mindset is of the graduating class,” Theodoropoulos said. “Every class is a little different and every class has certain threads of shared interest that permeate their discussion and you can walk through in an hour and get a snapshot of the class.”
Greg Wynn, an architecture professor at Cal Poly for the past 18 years and fifth-year professor for the past two, said he was proud of all the graduating students.
“It’s a joy to see their growth over the year,” Wynn said. “The exciting part is helping them transition from being a student to an architect.”