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CuestArc students Brianna Luce (l) and Devin Graham (r), winners of national student design competition.

Photo courtesy of the Cuesta College Marketing Department


CuestArc student Michelle Loeb shows her homeless shelter design.

Photo courtesy of the Cuesta College Foundation


Jessica Leung's award-winning ‘Hole on Hole’ cardboard chair design

Photo courtesy of the Cuesta College Foundation .



'Life-Fulfilling' Design Earns Cuesta Architecture Students National Title

Brianna Luce and Devin Graham win Rebuilding Home Student Design Competition and $2,500 for skilled nursing home plan.

March 2011—Four Cuesta College architecture students from San Luis Obispo were honored in a national student design contest - including two whose proposal for a skilled nursing facility was judged best in the nation among two- and four-year college and university students.

Brianna Luce and Devin GrahamBrianna Luce, 23, and Devin Graham, 21, won the Rebuilding Home Student Design Competition sponsored by the American Institute of Architecture Students and the Society for the Advancement of Gerontological Environments.

Their entry, "Evergreen: A Sustainable Community Promoting Successful Aging for the Elderly," netted the duo $2,500 and bested entries from students at such schools as the University of Oklahoma, University of Cincinnati, University of Wisconsin and the University of Oregon. The pair made a presentation about their winning project on March 20 at the Environments for Aging Conference in Atlanta.

Jessica Esteban and Joseph Ariente, both 22, received an honorable mention for their entry and a prize of $250 from a judging panel that included industry professionals.

The students were part of architecture instructor David Fernandez's architecture design fundamental class that entered the competition as a class project.

"What does this mean to the program?" Fernandez said. "It's up there. It's says a lot about what we do here at Cuesta. It's quite an honor. I'm super proud of these guys."

While the contest was announced last November, his students had only about five weeks to research senior living and develop a design, build a model and produce renderings before the March 5 deadline. They were asked to design a 50,000-square-foot nursing facility for 60 people that included passive solar heating and cooling systems to deal with the hot, humid weather found in Ocoee, a city of 25,000 in central Florida.

"We had to make it feel like a home rather than an institution," said Graham, who in 2008 moved from Clovis attracted by Cuesta's architecture program. "We wanted to create spaces that they could use in a more life-fulfilling way rather than to just get stuck in a room by themselves."

"So we focused a lot on interiors and making the daily lives of the residents better," added Luce, who moved from Paradise, Calif., to attend Cuesta two years ago.

Their design included four specific areas. The Town, or the public area, is "a destination space," Luce said. The residential area, called The Households, was sectioned into four pods, each serving 15 residents. Community Support included dining rooms, the main kitchen and maintenance. The cluster of administrative offices was dubbed the Business Establishment.

"The building is shaped like a V," she said. "The ends and center is common space. So when you walk down a hallway you've got this big, open nice space to one side and doors to the other - not just a long corridor of doors."

The pair, who tend to finish each other's sentences when talking about their project, each logged more than 70 hours in the week before the entry deadline, including one day where they slept only an hour.

But it was worth it, they agreed.

"You joke around about it, but you don't know," said Luce, who has been accepted to UC Berkeley and California College of the Arts and is awaiting word from Cal Poly. "We were really stoked about what we did with this building. I think we both really loved this project. I still love it."

To see the winning designs, visit:

Cuesta Architecture Students Display SLO Homeless Center Designs

May 2009—Fifteen Cuesta College architecture technology students showcased their designs for a new homeless center at the Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter in San Luis Obispo.

Graduating second-year students in architectural design classes “put together design proposals for a new homeless center in San Luis Obispo,” said instructor David Fernandez. “We did some research, did some site visits to the existing facilities and talked to the people who work in those facilities. Then students went off and designed a new campus for the homeless center.” Students displayed their designs to the public May 21 at the Orcutt Road homeless center. 

Michele Loeb's Homeless Shelter designCommunity Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County Inc. (formerly known as EOC) and the Friends of the Prado Day Center are seeking to upgrade facilities for the area’s homeless, Fernandez said. They operate the existing homeless centers: the Prado Day Center, which offers breakfast and lunch, and Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter, which provides dinner and 49 beds nightly year-round. “They are all approaching it differently,” he said of his students’ work. “Some have more controlled environments: You check in and it’s a ‘once you’re in, you’re in’ kind of thing. Others have a more of a ‘you can come and go’ thing.”

Cuesta students took on the assignment to also foster a dialogue about the need to create a better homeless center in the community. “It’s like planting a seed,” Fernandez said. “This is a way to put some designs out there and give it a visual in terms that this project could actually become reality.”  

Cuesta Cardboard Chair Design Gets Standing O-vation

April 2009—Cuesta College architecture student Jessica Leung won a national furniture design contest. The 20-year-old of San Luis Obispo won the fourth annual student Chair Affair design competition for her “Hole on Hole,” the American Institute of Architecture Students and the International Corrugated Packaging Foundation announced May 5. Classmate Brad Smith also was named a contest finalist.

Hole ChairChair Affair challenges students, working individually or in teams, to design a chair using corrugated cardboard and glue. It rewards excellence in design that integrates function, aesthetics, structure and ergonomics.

Leung, who hopes to attend USC’s School of Architecture, was a bit surprised after learning she had won the award, which includes a $1,500 prize.

“Because when I saw the other designs I thought that they were all really cool,” she said. “They were on the technical side whereas mine was more free and artistic.”

Leung’s design, which resembles a bean bag chair, began when she envisioned a 12-inch hole at the center of the piece that took her 50 hours to complete.

“I wanted to make something that was comfortable,” she said. “I used to be a gymnast and then I hurt my back. When I sit on a chair a long time my spine kind of hurts. So I really wanted a hole that wouldn’t be pushing back on my spine.

“When you sit on the hole it’s not like some concrete thing that you are sitting on. But this hole — this space — is holding you up. I started by wrapping strips around the hole — like a donut. And then I saw that it wasn’t really strong, so I started doing horizontal strips and found that it looked good.”

Cuesta architecture instructor David Fernandez, AIA, said this is the first time a student from the Cougar campus has won the national contest.

Leung’s classmate Smith received an honorable mention and $350 for “Caterpillared,” a chair and table with flat surfaces that are supported by a trellis of rolled cardboard spires.

“Cardboard has two ends and the corrugation in the middle,” said Smith, 25, who is transferring to the University of Oregon. “I pulled off (the top surface), and I rolled it up and noticed there was a lot of stability on a pillar, vertically. I just thought about a few different designs from there.”   To see photos and descriptions of Jessica Leung’s winning design, “Hole on Hole,” and Brad Smith’s “Caterpillared” visit:  

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