Featured Student Award + Scholarship Recipients

Nicholas Doerschlag

UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design | Howard Friedman Scholarship 

The Howard Friedman Scholarship is awarded each year to an undergraduate student in recognition of scholastic achievement and commitment to the advancement of procedures and methods of architectural practice.

February 2019

We interviewed Nicholas Doerschlag, an undergraduate at UC Berkeley studying Architecture. Nicholas received the 2019 Howard Friedman Scholarship, an AIA San Francisco scholarship awarded to undergraduate students in recognition of scholastic achievement and commitment to the advancement of procedures and methods of architectural practice.

Nicholas Doerschlag is a 4th-year architecture student at The University of California, Berkeley. While in middle school, Nick moved from Ohio to California alongside his parents and seven siblings. It was in the North Bay that Nick was introduced to trail hiking, running, and biking, and developed a love and respect for the natural world around him. Through his architectural practice, Nick aims to merge his appreciation for nature with his creative drive to design buildings that can better exist with the environment rather than in it. Nick also values encouraging human involvement and interaction in design at all levels and hopes to work alongside individuals that share similar passions following graduation.  


Tell us a little about yourself?

I am a senior studying Architecture at UC Berkeley. Studying Architecture has shaped my way of looking at things and shifted my interests in architecture. I have started to care more about the human aspect of architectural design. A more community-focused, practical approach to the practice. I question if design is for the front cover of a publication or really for the people. I prefer the less theoretic and drive around for-profit aspects of architecture.

I am currently working on smaller projects, including being an Admissions Ambassadors. Admissions Ambassadors is an internship I have been apart of since my second year at CAL. It seeks to reach out to local, national, and international communities interested in design through a variety of outreach events. The goal of the program is to target prospective middle and high school students who may or may not be considering going into the design field. As a group, we also provide ways for interested students to reach out and talk to currently enrolled students. Hopefully, this direct connection can bridge the gap between one's ideas of what college is and the reality.

Also in my program I work closely with a group of UC Berkeley design students in Dezino, a student-run design collective. Together we hope to generate design solutions that are user-centered, environmentally considerate, and universally accessible! One of the current projects we are working on is a kinetic wind sculpture that is currently under consideration for a Black Rock City Honorarium Grant. Hopefully the project, titled Windcatcher, will be chosen for construction and displayed during the 2020 Burning Man Festival.

It is fun to see the projects taking the next step from theoretical, abstract design to practical, design is like a conversation and a wild ride.

What motivated you to apply for this scholarship?

This opportunity is a faculty nomination undergraduate scholarship. Faculty solicited impromptu student interviews with design students and made a collective decision on the scholarship recipient.

How did you use your scholarship to reach your goals in 2019?

Access to machines, printing, and other production resources is not included in tuition. The Howard Friedman scholarship provided me a financial cushion to try out more ideas and take more risks with my work. For example in the studio I had the opportunity to work on fire prevention and mitigation in Berkeley. I  did more initial studies on material responses and was able to propose more project ideas. If I didn't have this scholarship I would not have taken may risks or tests.

Through my time studying architecture, I have realized that there is an additional financial cost of attending a design program. This can come in the form of model making materials, fabrications shop access, printing, etc. I want to be sure to mention that great design is great not because of the materials and fabrication process, but because of the time and thought that went into it.

You should not be wary of going to design school because of the additional financial burden it may have. If this is a concern, I would reach out to individuals working in admissions and talk to them about financial aid, fee waivers, and scholarship opportunities to help pay for some of the hidden costs of attending a design school.

What inspires you to succeed?

The people around me, friends, and family. The passions and motivations of others inspire me. As well as the chance to take a position change in the way we move through the world (i.e. a bench in the park or a community center).

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I am interested in trying design in other parts of the world and seeing what design means to others outside of the US. I would like to bring that back to my practice in the US. I would be part of a team that sees design as making a positive impact on others.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Take advantage of how a design degree shapes the way you perceive the world! The benefit of having a design background is that it opens your mind to not just finding problems, but addressing them. Even if you don’t know what your future may have in store, know that you are learning a new way to think and address problems big and small! The great thing about design or schooling around design-thinking is that yes, it is daunting initially but, having a background in design really opens up the way you see the world. I value now how I see problems and tackle them with a new perception and understanding.

Allison Foronda

Community Alliance Student Award

Recognition of an individual student, student team, or student organization who has demonstrated a commitment to the community or the building industry.

About the Community Alliance Award Program

Center for Architecture + Design and AIA San Francisco’s Community Alliance Awards program honors the individuals, firms, and organizations whose overall work, leadership, and dedication shape the character and vibrancy of our communities and the future of our built environment.

In recognition of their contributions to the advancement and enrichment of the quality of life in the Bay Area through their commitment to design excellence, the Center and AIASF strive to acknowledge these extraordinary individuals and organizations for their service to the Chapter, to the community, and to the profession. Their continued efforts to engage, educate, collaborate and advocate elevates the value of design and its impact.

January 2019

Last month we had the opportunity to interview Allison Foronda, who received the Student Award for the 2019 Community Alliance Awards. Allison was born and raised in San Francisco and is an architect + urban designer passionate about designing and creating meaningful public spaces. Driven by the public realm’s potential to address inequality for marginalized communities, Allison’s interests also include how cities might contend traditional spaces for the deceased. She holds a Master of Architecture from CCA with a background in sociology and urban planning from UCLA.


Where are you now in your career?

I currently work as an Architectural Designer. My projects range from tenant to master planning projects.

Tell us about your thesis and how you decided on the topic? 

For my Masters's Architectural thesis project, I had no idea at the beginning of the thesis what direction I wanted to go in. I know the importance of design and to delve into the design itself is something that was important to me. I sat down with thesis advisors to look at five words to address a project. The words were community, ex-pat, immigrant, remit, and I can't remember the last word! I wanted my thesis to have a personal side to it. One thing I learned was not to be afraid to tell a personal story. To integrate heritage and culture with technical and design was my goal. I received a grant to do research in the Philipines. On-site research is really important and was so fundamental to the project. The project research explored a timeline of Filipino immigration and my parents' experience. The word “remit” captured this aspect of the project. I explored remittance in cemeteries and expanded to looking at infrastructures. I was inspired by Sara J. Lopez who wrote a book that looked at migrants funding families and places abroad.


Thesis Project

Remit: (verb) to send money to another person or place.

Expatriate laborers often send remittances back to their home country to remediate their absence. The gap between these migrants and those left behind creates a disconnect between being here and there - a gap that is also felt in the impact and relevance of the remittance resources. Goods, infrastructures, and buildings supported through these remittances often remain unused, incomplete, or abandoned. Manila North Cemetery is home to thousands of interred Overseas Filipinx Workers returning home in death after dedicating their lives to working abroad. Thousands of poor squatters, here re-anointed as “stewards” of the landscape, are currently destabilizing the power dynamics of both the cemetery and the city through their occupation alone. What if a new form of architecture could build a bridge between the typical forms of remittance architecture and the actual needs of everyday life, between the global desire to give back to one’s homeland and the local needs, between the living and the dead? This thesis hypothesizes a reallocation of individual - and incremental - remittances into a new form of more collective and meaningful infrastructure. The work proposes that the impact of remittance resources can be exponentially amplified to meet the quotidian demands of a living cemetery.