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Student Profile: Shannon Standish

IMG_2179Shannon Standish of Charlotte, North Carolina is a fifth year student majoring in Architecture and minoring in Industrial Design and History. After graduation, she plans to work in an architectural office that focuses on custom residential or small-scale commercial spaces. She would like to work on buildings where she can get into the details of construction on the smallest level. She hopes to design buildings that exemplify their materiality and create better environments for their occupants.

What is your favorite animal?

I have always loved pigs. As a kid, I was obsessed with Piglet and Winnie the Pooh. I have dozens of piglet stuffed animals to prove it! I also love sausage, which gave me a bit of a life crisis when elementary school me found out Piglet and sausage were one in the same. I got through that, and now i just say I love pigs in all forms.

What led you to your major?

My mom is an architect, so growing up I was well-exposed to the field, but more than that architecture always seemed to fit who I am. I love crafting and creating beautiful well-designed things, but I also love learning and problem-solving, too. As a kid, if we had a project I would always spend weeks before it was due working on the poster or model to make sure it was perfect, but the paper would invariably happen the night before. I always had some ploy or another to make money selling things I had made – at school or on Etsy. Architecture gives me the fundamentals to design anything from a chair to an urban plan, and all the buildings in between. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What made you want to come to Virginia Tech?

I first visited Virginia Tech in middle school when my summer camp counselor, a Hokie, brought us to visit on our way to a whitewater rafting trip. It was about two months about April 16th, so we visited all the memorials as we walked through campus. The sense of community I felt was profound. You could feel the Hokie Nation surrounding the campus, there to support and encourage all Hokies. On top of all this, VT has a beautiful campus centered around the Drillfield and surrounded by mountains that offer all the great outdoor sports I love. A few months later, Virginia Tech’s architecture program was ranked 1st place nationally, and I knew without a doubt I would go to Tech. My parents, UVA alumni, took a bit more convincing.

What is the most recent project you’ve worked on?

I’m working on my thesis year. We pick one topic to explore over the course of a year, which helps us to establish our position about the kind of work we want to produce as we go into our professional careers. I’m researching how a building might be specific to one place and, in particular, how a building might speak to the history of the area and leave an impact on future buildings in the area. The impetus for this is from the idea that most sustainable building, environmentally and socially, is done with the lifetime of the building in mind. A building that lasts hundreds of years should be designed and constructed differently and with different materials than one that lasts 10 years. I’m working on the design of a Farmers Market for a small town in Vermont. The goal is that the town members might be able to easily put up this market shelter in the spring and take it down in the winter. This will increase the lifetime of the shelter while building a sense of community for the town.

What else are you involved with at Virginia Tech?

I helped to restart the CAUS Ambassador Program my freshman year. We help perspective, current, and past students of the college to connect with the the college and other schools, and mainly give perspective students a student viewpoint of the college. I am a member of the American Institute of Architecture Students, an alumni of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and a member of Habitat for Humanity. I work as a Student Assistant Manager in one of the campus dining halls, where I’ve met a great group of other students outside of Architecture. I also spend a couple hours most weeks with a high school class in Floyd, Virginia to help them design and build a small Cordwood home. When I can, I love hiking, walking, and any adventure sports.

Tell me about your study abroad experience.

Last year, I had the chance to study at Virginia Tech’s Steger Center in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland. The way Europeans design and build architecture is completely different than is commonly done in America. Being able to travel across Western Europe to see and understand other ways of design and other ways of living was a turning point in my education. Great buildings I had studied in other classes were laid out before me so that I might begin to understand those qualities that made them so great. No picture could ever do them justice, and my architecture will forever by informed by the experiences I had that semester.