Jessica Colangelo and Charles Sharpless, professors at the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, have been selected by Exhibit Columbus as the 2022-23 University Research Fellows in Design.
Exhibit Columbus has selected two faculty members from the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design for its new cohort of University Design Research Fellows. Jessica Colangelo, Assistant Professor of Architecture, and Charles Sharpless, Assistant Professor of Interior Architecture and Design, are among seven 2022-23 University Research Fellows in Design. The couple are also co-founders of the architecture firm Somewhere Studio.
Exhibit Columbus is a program of the Landmark Columbus Foundation and an exploration of community, architecture, art, and design that activates the modern heritage of Columbus, Indiana. He creates a cycle of programming that uses this context to convene conversations around innovative ideas and commissions site-appropriate installations in a free public exhibition.
“Exhibit Columbus will build on Charles and Jessica’s growing community work, continued use of recycled materials, and attention to underutilized spaces,” said Carl Matthews, Professor and Chair of the Department of Architecture and interior design.
“The selection of Jessica and Charles as research fellows contributing to the Columbus exhibit offers clear recognition of the resonance their installation work has established,” said John Folan, professor and head of the architecture department. “This honor offers the opportunity to expand a body of work within an internationally recognized design context.”
Individuals and teams have been selected for these scholarships through an open national competition for full-time university professors whose work is deeply rooted in design research. Faculty were asked to respond to recommendations from the 2021 Downtown Activation Study developed by James Lima Planning and Development (JLP+D) which examined ways to activate the historic core of downtown Columbus . JLP+D’s work is supported by the City of Columbus and a Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The other scholarship recipients come from universities across the country, including The Ohio State University, Columbus; Iowa State University College of Design, Ames; the University of Virginia School of Architecture in Charlottesville; Syracuse University School of Architecture, in Syracuse, New York; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Indiana; and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
“We are delighted to be selected as fellows in the fourth cycle of this exciting design program,” said Sharpless. “There are many parallels between Columbus and northwest Arkansas, particularly in the commitment each location has demonstrated to engaging forward-thinking architectures and design practices for public and civic projects. .”
The theme of this fourth Columbus exhibition cycle, Audience By Design, draws on the legacy of Columbus, Indiana, to explore how collaborations between communities and designers can revitalize and reinvent historic downtowns as equitable, beautiful, healthy and joyful places, according to the website Exhibit Columbus . Audience by Design serves as a platform for many communities to engage with the values of inclusivity, caring and generosity. This cycle celebrates creative methods of collaboration that communities and designers can use to develop a sense of belonging and connection in public spaces.
In their response to the Activation Study for Downtown Columbus, Colangelo and Sharpless described how they wanted to advance their ongoing research interests in public space design projects that explore themes of activation of space and reuse of materials.
Space activation provides an opportunity for active community engagement through project programming. Material reuse demonstrates new uses for building construction by-products or “waste” in the fabrication, assembly, and reuse of a project.
In their work, they hope to spark awareness, imagination, and new ways of looking at the often abstract life cycles of material consumption and disposal that form the relationship between humans and the natural and built environments. .
Colangelo and Sharpless view this project as part of the near-term “Arts and Design Amplification” software opportunity proposed in the study – and fulfilling an expressed need for more informal gathering and a sense of exploration, in designing interstitial spaces such as alleyways and unplanned public spaces.
Often located in underused public spaces, their work seeks to inspire a sense of curiosity and intrigue through its active elements, use of color and material storytelling, they said. Sensitivity to site and context plays an important role in their design process, and they watch for opportunities to frame views, take advantage of solar orientations, and accommodate pedestrian flows.
“We are thrilled to be part of the discourse on activating underutilized urban spaces with educators and practitioners across the country over the course of a year with Columbus’ significant architectural heritage as a backdrop,” said Colangelo. “The theme Audience by Design resonates with our past design research projects, which seek to layer playful programming and experimental material strategies into engaging structures in the public realm.”
These projects include the swings in Salvage Swings (2019), bus stop seats and a community pantry in The Shelter Project (2021), and mobile artists’ studios in The Print Cart for Crystal Bridges to You Mobile Art Lab (2022). Additionally, their projects Salvage Swings (2019) and Mix and Match (2022) both use construction by-products, such as dimensional lumber and cross-laminated timber panels, in their assembly.
Colangelo and Sharpless are participating in panel discussions at the Exhibit Columbus “Public by Design” symposium October 21-22. They will also present their facility design proposal at a public event in Columbus in February. Their temporary installation for the Columbus exhibition will open to the public in August 2023 and will remain on display throughout this fall.