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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

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Students work with experts to design Imperial Sugar land development project


Two months since graduating from the college of architecture, Shawn Nygren has traveled across the country to meet with prospective employers.

Nygren said that he is confident about getting a job because of the real world experience he earned in his last semester in college.

Under the supervision of Barry Moore, a Gensler Architecture employee and an associate professor at the college of architecture, Nygren and nine other classmates from the professional study class are being praised for their spring semester work involving the Imperial Sugar Land Development project.

“I’ve always liked to pick a real project for my students so that they can work with real developers and landscape architects,” Moore said.

“Cities and things like that so they can get a great deal of practical experience in communicating with possible future clients.”

Gensler Architecture was working on the Imperial Sugar project, a part of the 700-acre land being developed by Johnson Development, which is located along Hwy 90 and east of Hwy 6.

The company met with students to explain what the developers were looking for, Nygren said.

The students worked as a group during the first part of the semester to develop a master plan.

This stage of the project tasked students with mapping out streets, vehicle parking areas, retail space, housing, hotel and recreation space for the 45-acre historical site.

The students eventually came up with plans for an 800-seat theatre with a performance stage, a central park, and the development of a restaurant and bar area along Oyster Creek.

For the second half of the semester, Nygren said, the students worked individually.

Each student chose a building or a part of the master plan that they wanted to further develop.

Throughout the semester, students kept in constant contact with the development companies.

“I was really pleased that the students came up with some ideas that the developers hadn’t thought about,” Moore said.

“The developers were incredibly excited about that.”

Moore said in a statement that he felt the project was a great way to incorporate history and architecture among students at the University.

“This project represents a unique opportunity to pass on the importance of preserving our historic landmarks to the next generation of great minds entering the field of architecture,” Moore said.

The students wrapped up the project with a final presentation in May with both Gensler Architecture and Johnson Development.

“The developers had thought they would just come for 15 or 20 minutes and see the student work,” Moore said.

“They ended up staying for two-and-a-half hours and had long conversations with each of the students about what they wanted to do.”

Nygren said the developers, who already had a master plan drawn up, took ideas from the students.

“They loved the ideas and the different approach we took,” he said.

Moore said the project served as an inspiration not only for the students, but also for the companies involved in the project.

“This really was an educational endeavor,” Moore said.

“But as I have done in the past, the student work act as a catalyst to the real project.”

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