Architecture Students Design for
Community Non-Profit in Final Project
N.J.- Jean Stockdale, executive director of the non-profit
Who Is My Neighbor? Inc., located in Highland Park, N.J.,
watched intently as Architecture students from Mercer County
Community College presented their visions for the future of
her neighborhood café during presentations on Dec.
A socially responsible, community-driven entrepreneur, Stockdale
is enjoying the benefits of a class project that featured
the work of twelve of MCCC's advanced Architecture students.
They were given the assignment to create master plans for
a sustainable design upgrade and expansion for Stockdale's
community kitchen, A Better World Café. The café
opened last year in partnership with Elijah's Promise, one
of New Jersey's largest programs for feeding the hungry, with
the intent to make healthy food accessible and affordable
In the daylong event, students presented renderings, 3-D models
and their overall visions for the renovation project to a
panel of professional architects including Pat Totaro and
Kyle Paul Van Dyke, from KVD Studios in Princeton, and John
Cays, associate dean of Student Academic Affairs at New Jersey
Institute of Technology's College of Architecture and Design.
Also present were other MCCC Architecture faculty and students.
Taught by adjunct instructor Dominick Rodriguez, "Architecture
Design" not only includes various facets of architectural
design concepts and challenges, but also asks students to
translate them into practical projects.
"My students were very excited about the opportunity
to respond to the needs of an actual client for their final
semester review," said Rodriguez, who is himself an MCCC
alumnus, having earned his A.S. in Architecture from MCCC
in 2005 and a bachelor's degree in Architecture and a master's
in Infrastructure and Planning from NJIT.
"The objective of the assignment was to find ways to
incorporate sustainable, green technologies and community
interaction in all aspects of the project," Rodriguez
explained. "I hope their work serves as a prototype for
new sustainability construction methods and non-profit partnerships."
John Cays noted that all of the work was impressive. "These
were certainly among the best that I've seen at community
colleges. I was delighted to be asked to evaluate their work
and would be glad to come back to Mercer at any time to do
Presenters, clients and judges, left
to right: Nick Kubian, Kyle Van Dyke, John Cays, Edgar Alfonso,
Khanh Tran, Dominick Rodriguez, Andrew Ferro, Jessica Kozlowski,
Jean Stockdale (far back), Wisdom Agyei, Joseph Langan, Levent
Akkaya, Alvin Arellano, Shawn Robertson, Benazir Rowneki,Stephen
Mance, Adelaide Mazwarira (an intern with Stockdale), and
architect Pat Totaro.
Kozlowski presents her designs.
Tran shows his model to architects Totaro and Van Dyke.
Stockdale's part, it was a day well spent. "I was thrilled
with the functional and aesthetically pleasing work these students
created to address an array of challenges," Stockdale said.
"They not only planned their designs, but fully carried them
out in their models and renderings." Stockdale, who expects
to incorporate some of the students' suggestions into the café's
expansion, is working with a project team that includes Totaro,
Van Dyke, business developer and social entrepreneur Nick Kubian
Stockdale extended an invitation to Mercer's budding architects
to visit the café when the project is completed. "They
will be able to experience what they have helped create," she
The nonprofit is proposing to construct the new building in the
downtown redevelopment district of Highland Park. The plans also
include an adjacent education center to teach the public about green