Graphic design students earn United Designs Alliance international awards

June 22, 2021

UNIVERSTY PARK, Pa. — Stuckeman School third-year graphic design students in Associate Professor Ryan Russell’s “Practical Communications” course this past semester were recently recognized for their collaborative work by the United Designs Alliance (UDA) International Design Competition 2021 in the Signs, Systems and Letterform Marks category.

Kristen Campion, Phoenix Chan and Cameron Soravilla earned a gold award for their submission titled “The Crescendo.” Mackenzie Henry, Anna Gumaer and Rebecca Larson earned a silver award for their “Sculptures in the Park” project while classmates Megan Skosnick, Samantha Chung, Connor Schwenk and Liliana Golden also earned silver with their “Nexus” submission. Lucas Sterrett, Elinor Franklin and Alex Rupp brought home a bronze award for their work, titled “Nucleus.”

The material submitted to the competition were identity design work and wayfinding solutions that the third-year class created for projects that had been designed by architecture and landscape architecture students in the multidisciplinary Stuckeman Sustainable Urban Density Studio (SSUDS) course in fall 2020. The SSUDS studio joins advanced architecture and landscape architecture students together to develop a mixed-use design project adjacent to the successful Playhouse Square district in downtown Cleveland.

"The addition of graphic design in this multidisciplinary studio, and the resulting accolades, illustrates how successful collaboration between the different design disciplines brings forth more comprehensive and complete outcomes because they are informed by a multitude of perspectives,” said Russell. “The award-winning projects highlight interaction concepts and visual executions that encompass multiple deliverables, including wordmarks, wayfinding systems, interior designs and app interfaces.”

Branding and wayfinding assets for the "Sculptures in the Park" project.

"Sculptures in the Park" by graphic design students Mackenzie Henry, Anna Gumaer and Rebecca Larson earned a silver award in the Signs, Systems and Letterform Marks category of the United Design Alliance International Design Competition 2021. 

IMAGE: Penn State

The concept of SSUDS was initially developed by Dan Willis, professor of architecture, who was soon joined by Paul Daniel Marriott, associate professor of landscape architecture, to offer Stuckeman School students in the College of Arts and Architecture more opportunities to work across the disciplines of architecture and landscape architecture. Willis said he had been exploring ways in which graphic design students could contribute their unique skill sets to the SSUDS studio experience since the then-Graphic Design program — now the Department of Graphic Design — became part of the school 2012. Prior to 2021, graphic design was housed in the since-dissolved Department of Integrative Arts in the College of Arts and Architecture.

“The work of Ryan’s students has been eye-opening for me — especially in terms of future collaborative opportunities,” said Willis. “One group of [graphic design] students created renderings of an elevator lobby and entrances to the restrooms. The signage added significantly to the believability of the images. Now, our architecture students’ typical interior renderings will look ‘naked’ to me without that additional layer of design.

“Another group abstracted the building designs into a fabric pattern that they used as wall coverings, carpet and even the hotel room keys," added Willis. "Just the sort of thing an actual developer would do to distinguish a project.”

As for the future of the Department of Graphic Design’s involvement with the studio, Russell and Willis are hopeful that the faculty of the departments involved and school leadership can build off the success of the students in the UDA international design competition to continue to expand opportunities for students to collaborate across the disciplines within the Stuckeman School.  

Established in 2014, the UDA is a global design network of practitioners, educators and students that are dedicated to understanding unique design collections and exchanging ideas on communication design practice, education and culture. Learn more about the organization and its international design competitions via uniteddesigns.org.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 22, 2021