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Students’ Concept for UBank Building Wins Renovation Challenge

Left to right, Faculty advisor Keith Cornelius, Tyler Ericson, Jonah Free, Dan Karlin, Jackson Lasseter, and ASTC mentor Joshua Grossman, ASTC Mentor. Ryan Healey and faculty advisor Scott Pinkney not pictured. Photo/ASTC
By Molli DeRosa ‘21

Five Design/Technology students won the 2019 ASTC-USITT Renovation Challenge for their conceptual redesign of the Union Bank Building, with the help of faculty advisors Keith Cornelius, scene shop/technical supervisor, and Professor Scott Pinkney.

Tyler Ericson ‘19, Jonah Free ‘19, Dan Karlin ‘19, Jackson Lasseter ‘19, and Ryan Healey ‘20 were the recipients of the $2,000 Edgar L. Lustig Award.

See the project

Seven teams engaged in the challenge on March 22 at the United State Institute for Theatre Technology Conference, held in Louisville, Kentucky. The Conference is presented by the American Society of Theatre Consultants, which focuses on designing state-of-the-art entertainment facilities.

Emerson students conceptually redesigned the first three floors of Emerson’s Union Bank Building into a “mini performing arts center,” according to Cornelius, including amenities like a full-sized lobby with a ticket area and a backstage support shop area, dressing rooms, and the theater itself. The layout of the first floor was altered to accommodate a new theater space.

The goal was to regenerate a space to “provide the student groups of Emerson College with a stand-alone center for the design, facilitation, and implementation of student-produced theatre and entertainment,” according to the student’s project mission statement.

Ericson, one of the challenge’s student participants, began work on the project in October 2018. Every Friday, students would Skype in with Josh Grossman, their mentor, sketching layout ideas and drafting their designs. A main goal of theirs was to avoid infringing upon the “historical integrity” of the building.

Like any project there were challenges, but the students’ collaboration put the Emerson team on top.

“We talked through many disagreements with the design, and in the end, we were able to come up with a better final design because of those discussions,” Tyler said.

Cornelius assumed the role of recruiting students for the team, and monitored their progress during the challenge’s process.

“The truth is the team pretty much ran itself,” he said. “It was gratifying to hear praise from the judges about the ‘holistic nature’ of our team’s proposal, their obvious broad understanding of what makes a theater, and the evident open-mindedness, curiosity and collaborative skills that we strive to teach at Emerson.”

The Renovation Challenge is will happen again in 2021 for its sixth year.

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