Fifth-floor gallery of University Commons receives architectural award

Drew Wilson -

PITTSBURGH - The view from the fifth floor of Carlow’s University Commons building has always been impressive. And recently it was enhanced by public art designed by Carlow University students.

Now it is award-winning.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) gave it an Award of Merit at its 2020 awards ceremony in September.

Designed over the summer of 2018 by Carlow University art or art therapy majors Emily Armstrong, Jasmine Cho, Tori Hirsh, Taylor Humes, Katie Krall and Katie Winter – who are now all graduates – the art project was completed and installed by LGA Partners, a local architectural firm, in 2019.

Unlike any work of art on the Carlow campus, the project is uniquely made of die cut designs on 4’x8’ sheets of aluminum interspersed with similar-sized glass that encircles the western, southern, and eastern sides of the building. The project depicts scenes from the history, mission and daily life of Carlow University.

“I am very pleased that AIA has recognized the exceptional design work of my students and their partnership with LGA Partners architects,” said Sarah Jacobs, assistant professor of art and head of the 2-D art program at Carlow, who taught the summer class that the students took in 2018 in preparation for designing the project. “It was brave of LGA to trust a group of undergrads to design the imagery for their balcony, but they wisely understood the dedication, professionalism and ingenuity of Carlow students. Kudos to them and to the creative student artists.”

The students were all excited about having the opportunity to create something that would have a lasting impact on the Carlow campus.

“I think what mattered most to us in the design process was creating designs that had symbolism and meaning and could be communicated to others,” said Winter, quoted in the Carlow Magazine. “We wanted everyone to be able to look at the designs and connect with some part of the project. We wanted to put emphasis on Carlow’s heritage and past and show that heritage shining into the future.”

Now, thanks to an impressive collaboration between Carlow students and a local architectural firm, not only is it a shining future, it is also an award-winning one.

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