The AIAS 2023 Midwest Quad Conference Re-Imagine recently took place from March 9th through the 12th, and it was an incredible experience for 15 South Dakota State University architecture students. The conference was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was attended by students from all over the Midwest. Students were allowed to branch out beyond South Dakota and experience what architecture is beyond their studies.
The Wisconsin Milwaukee School of Architecture AIAS chapter created many opportunities for students to experience Milwaukee and understand elements of the city’s past architectural goals and plans for the future. Students attended a career fair and learned about many different types of firms to be able to narrow down where they may want to work someday. Students also listened to lectures about using highway systems through Milwaukee and how removing them could create a better environment.
One of the conference’s highlights was the visit to the Milwaukee Art Museum, known for its stunning architecture. A Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava designed the museum known for its iconic feature, the “wings” that can be opened or closed, depending on the weather. The students could explore the museum and learn more about the unique design elements that make it so special. Unfortunately, because of the weather, students could not experience the museum’s moving elements, but it was still an unforgettable experience.
Another exciting visit was to the Burnham Frank Lloyd Wright Block, a collection of homes designed by FLW. The block includes several houses developed in the early 20th century, and they are considered some of Wright’s most significant works intended for the average Americans. The students could tour these homes and learn about the architectural styles and design principles used. These homes were restored with the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Architecture Program. One of the homes was wholly restored to its original look. The rest or in the works of being restored.
Some students also had the opportunity to tour Zimmerman Architects, a Milwaukee-based architecture firm specializing in sustainable design. The firm has worked on many projects in the area, including renovating historic buildings and creating new, sustainable structures. The students could see some of the firm’s work up close and learn about the process of working in a firm. They learned about the different types of Architecture and how they can specialize in buildings such as higher education, government, or medical buildings.
The weekend’s final event was a Beaux Arts Ball, a formal event celebrating the history and traditions of the Beaux Arts style of architecture. Students could talk and get to know other students from other Midwest chapters and make connections outside of South Dakota. The Ball took place on the Hyatt Regency’s top floor, which provided 360-degree views of the city.
In addition to the educational benefits, the conference was an excellent opportunity for the students to network with other architecture students and professionals from the region. They were able to make connections, share ideas, and gain insights into the industry that will be valuable as they move forward in their careers. Students could talk with AIAS national board members and develop many ideas that can be implemented in the next school year for the AIAS SDSU chapter.
Overall, the AIAS 2023 Midwest Quad Conference was a fantastic experience for the South Dakota State University architecture students who attended. They were able to see some of the most iconic and influential works of architecture in the Midwest, learn about sustainable design, and create connections outside of South Dakota State University. These experiences will undoubtedly inform and inspire their future work as architects.
Anna is currently a fourth-year architecture student enrolled at South Dakota State University. She is the President of SDSU’s AIAS chapter and has learned so much from her leadership role in the organization. She is graduating with her BFA in architecture this spring and plans to continue on a path toward her M.Arch at SDSU and Graduate in August of 2024. She is currently an Architectural Intern at Schemmer in Sioux Falls.