Interior Design Students Win Top Six Awards in Jacobs KlingStubbins Competition




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PhilaU students from left to right, Gabrielle Gorman, Alexandra DeSantis, Heather Robinson, Colleen Barry, Shannon Rafferty and Michelle Leff receive their awards at a ceremony at Philadelphia’s Hyatt at the Bellevue.

PhilaU interior design students had another great showing at this year’s Jacobs KlingStubbins student design competition, winning six of seven awards overall and sweeping the top three prizes.

The PhilaU winners, who also took three of four honorable mentions in the prestigious competition, are:

First Place ($3000) – Michelle Leff ’14
Second Place ($2000) – Heather Robinson ’14
Third Place ($1000) – Shannon Rafferty ’14
Honorable Mention ($500) – Colleen Barry ’14
Honorable Mention ($500) – Alexandra DeSantis ’15
Honorable Mention ($500) – Gabrielle Gorman ’15

Students received their awards at a Nov. 14 ceremony at Philadelphia’s Hyatt at the Bellevue.


Michelle Leff won first place in the design competition.

“Words cannot begin to describe how I feel about this win,” said first-place winner Michelle Leff. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this competition, and so proud that Philadelphia University was able to rise to the top, taking home six out of seven awards.”

PhilaU interior design students consistently have done well in this competition, placing among the top three awards every year since 2010.  Two of this year’s winners, Shannon Rafferty and Colleen Barry, won awards for the second year in a row.

“Our program’s holistic and rigorous design education gives our students the knowledge and myriad skills for dealing with design problems in high-pressure situations,” said Lauren Baumbach, director of PhilaU’s Interior Design Program. “We present them with a vast array of design challenges in four years, which gives them the experience and confidence to resolve a multitude of design problems and develop winning solutions when participating in competitions.”

The seven-hour design charette, which took place Nov. 2 at Jacobs KlingStubbins’ Philadelphia office, challenged students to design a new office space for a social media consulting firm. Students were required to include a reception area, conference rooms, offices, printing and copy room, pantry, breakroom, bathrooms and bike storage in their designs.

The judges then evaluated project boards for general design concepts, space plans, color and finish materials, and presentation clarity.

“The deadline was very intense, I honestly don’t think I got out of my chair the whole time,” said second-place winner Heather Robinson. “It was challenging, but great to see what I was capable of.”

Computers were not used for the competition, so students had to rely on their hand-drawing skills. “We still implement hand drawing into our daily computer program work, so it felt natural to go right back into a hand-drawn project,” third-place winner Shannon Rafferty said.

In addition to PhilaU, students from five other area schools participated in the competition: Drexel University, Moore College of Art & Design, Art Institute of Philadelphia, Arcadia University and Harcum College.

This is the 12th annual competition sponsored by KlingStubbins, which was renamed Jacobs KlingStubbins after being acquired by Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. on Nov. 1.



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