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VCUQatar Hosts the Sheraton Student Design Competition

January 30, 2012

VCUQatar in partnership with Qatar Museums Authority, Qatar National Hotels Company and the Sheraton Doha Resort and Convention Hotel hosted a reception for the Sheraton Student Design Competition on Saturday, 28 January 2012, at the Sheraton, where participating teams presented their final design proposals.

Ten design teams comprising students from eight Qatar high schools – Al Bayan Educational Complex for Girls; Al-Ieman Secondary Independent School for Girls; Al Khor International School; Al Wakra Independent Secondary School for Boys; Doha College; Gulf English School; Qatar Academy; Qatar Leadership Academy – architecture students from Qatar University and Carnegie Mellon University, and interior design students from VCUQatar submitted their designs to the jury on Saturday at 4:30 pm. At the reception the same evening, the teams briefly summarized their projects, and allowed guests in attendance to view the work up close, ask questions, and examine ideas. The winners of the Competition will be announced by HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani at a reception in the coming weeks.

VCUQatar Dean Allyson Vanstone addressed the gathering saying VCUQatar was thrilled to be co-hosting the competition. “Since its establishment in 1998, VCUQatar has served as a vital link to the community and co-hosting this evening’s event is one of the manifestations of our commitment.”

Dean Vanstone thanked Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani whose vision and commitment towards art and design fostered this design competition and also VCUQatar’s event partners Qatar Museums Authority, Qatar National Hotels Company and the Sheraton Doha Resort and Convention Hotel for the support extended to make the competition a success.

She concluded by thanking VCUQatar faculty, staff and students; Carolyn Freeman, chair of the Interior Design department and the Interior Design staff at VCUQatar; Roger Griffiths, director of Design Entrepreneurship; faculty, staff and architecture students at: Qatar University and Carnegie Mellon University; high school faculty, staff, students and parents of the eight Qatar schools for their hard work, dedication and support.

“I am very pleased to witness the fruitful outcome of the event, which was initiated in the summer of last year. We are honored to have contributed in giving opportunities to our Qatari youth to highlight their design potential, which will be showcased within QNH and Qatar’s prided landmark hotel,” said CEO of Qatar National Hotels Company Hamad Abdulla Al Mulla. “Sponsoring this event signals our strong commitment to supporting the development of Qatar’s youth and continuous efforts to ensure Sheraton Doha Resort & Convention Hotel continues its long legacy of civic participation.”

“Part of our mission at Qatar Museums Authority is to support the art and design community in Qatar by creating opportunities to explore the trends, themes and motifs that exist in various forms of visual art. Through our participation in the Sheraton Student Design Charrette, in cooperation with VCUQatar, we aim to inspire the next generation of designers,” said Ed Dolman, executive, Chairperson’s Office at Qatar Museums Authority.

Griffiths and the Interior Design department at VCUQatar also thanked Dak Kopec, the guest lecturer; Roy Colquhoun, the videographer; the external critics who brought their design expertise and wisdom to the student teams; and Virgin Megastore at the Villagio Mall for supplying the equipment in the chillout zone for the participants throughout the weekend.

The Sheraton Student Design Competition came about last summer when Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani asked VCUQatar to organize a student design competition in preparation for a planned remodeling of the Sheraton, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2012. HE Sheikha Al Mayassa asked that the competition focus on redesigning the five State Rooms, which are maintained at the Sheraton for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. She also requested that the students incorporate current technologies and employ sustainable design principles when possible, and that they pay particular attention to the culture of each country with the intent of developing designs that will reflect unique characteristics of each country. Each set of GCC State Rooms is comprised of a suite of six to eight rooms that include a formal majlis, dining room, kitchen, fully appointed guest rooms, and a private majlis, bedroom, and bathrooms for the Head of State. The scope of work extended to the immediately adjacent corridors and the mashrabiya that screens the suites from the hotel’s central atrium space beyond.

VCUQatar’s director of Design Entrepreneurship and the Interior Design department subsequently collaborated to structure the competition as a design charrette which spanned the weekend of 27-28 January. Each of the ten teams included one VCUQatar interior design student, one architecture student (of the six from Qatar University and four from Carnegie Mellon University), two high school students from the eight Qatar schools, and one university design professor (of the seven from VCUQatar, one from QU, and two from CMU). Two teams competed against each other on each of the five suites.

In addition, a pre-charrette meeting was held on 22 January at which team members met for the first time, viewed the GCC State Suites, and received information about cultural identity research from Dak Kopec, a highly regarded environmental psychologist, and Carol Hansen, director of the VCUQatar Libraries. The charrette began at 8:30am on Friday and ended with a formal design jury that started reviewing the work at 4:30pm on Saturday. Participants stayed at the Sheraton on Friday night so they could work into the evening and begin refreshed on Saturday morning.

The design teams were charged with developing innovative and unique design concepts for each suite of the Sheraton’s GCC State Rooms that integrated principles of sustainability in their design process. The concepts had to reflect the unique cultures of each country while incorporating innovative technologies into the suites, innovative space planning, volumetric development, and architectural detailing that are appropriate for the GCC Heads of State and their families and guests. The spaces and components that were to be considered included the formal majlis; the formal dining room; any adjacent auxiliary spaces such as corridors and restrooms; the Head of State’s private rooms, which include a living room/majlis, bedroom, bathroom, dressing area, guest restroom, and hallway; the connecting corridors of the State Suites and the mashrabiya that screens the suites from the hotel’s central atrium space beyond.

Although the specified time of the charrette was brief, teams were encouraged to develop their designs to as high a level of detail as possible by specifying, at least conceptually furniture, fixtures, and equipment including plumbing and lighting fixtures; finishes and architectural detailing for floors, walls, ceilings; materials for wall and window coverings, bed linens, upholstery and accessories such as task lamps, art work, carpets.

VCUQatar students and alumni have been called upon on several occasions to design for the Qatari community. Some examples of successful work produced by them are Qatar Vision 2020 identity development for the General Secretariat for Development Planning, the identity design for the Qatar Olympic bid, the branding for the Karwa transportation system, the uniforms of the Qatar Philharmonic orchestra, the Qatar Prix de l’ Arc de Triomphe, the Qatar Arabian World Cup trophies for the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club the interior design for the Shell Research Center and suites at the Ramada Plaza Doha among others.

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