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January 17, 2003

Students have designs on Capistrano Hall lobby

If the University decides to give the Capistrano Hall lobby a new look, the inspiration might come from CSUS students. Music department chair Ernie Hills tapped several interior design students to develop detailed plans for the building's foyer.

Robin Eicher, a facilities management associate planner, says workers have only slightly renovated Capistrano Hall's foyer since 1967, replacing doors and carpeting.

Hills says the 36-year-old music building needs an update. And as the site of 200 concerts per year, it gets a lot of use. "Going to a concert is a social event for people," he says. "A lot of the community comes to the building. I would like to make the building much more attractive, much more welcoming."

Hills recalls that he and design department professor Carolyn Gibbs were casually discussing how the music building's lobby needed updating, an idea Hills says he and other faculty have toyed with before, "We're always on the lookout for ideas."

A few months later, Gibbs approached Hills to ask if some of her students could use Capistrano Hall's space as a template for a design project. Hills was very enthusiastic. "This is great, the kind of thing I absolutely get excited about," he says. "This project was easy to say yes to."

Gibbs' advanced computer-assisted design class and professor Jill Pable's presentation techniques class merged to create 10 groups. Within each group, some students produced the architectural designs. Other students were responsible for the color-rendered perspective drawing of specific spaces.

The students received about four weeks to prepare their designs. Pable notes that this amount of time is less than what designers would receive in the business world.

Once the students finished their projects, they formally presented their work to Hills, faculty members and architects including Michael Patrick from Nacht and Lewis Architects. Patrick says he was impressed at how well the groups worked together. "They all seemed pretty competent. I was pleased," he says.

Hills says he was amazed at the talent the students demonstrated. He says, "I enjoyed the way some of them tied together the two buildings. They made it more like a single, unified building."

One group of designers mentioned how they saw the inside of Capistrano Hall as "more than an educational building," recognizing its use to students and the community. Others planned skylights to bring in the outdoors.

Hills liked the ideas. "All of them were really good. I saw several ideas that could work. They were very thought-provoking," he says. However, just as in the real world, Gibbs says that if funding does become available in the future, Hills and the music department aren't locked into choosing one of the 10 designs. They can go outside the University and talk with outside agencies. "Hills has the client's prerogative," Gibbs says.

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