Campus & Community

PBSC students create concepts to expand Armory Art Center

Picture of PBSC student Mateus Avelar
Mateus Avelar, first-place winner, discusses his concept for expanding the Armory Art Center. Photography courtesy of Armory Art Center.

Students in a PBSC architecture class received hands-on experience, and three of them landed cash prizes for their ideas to expand the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach.

The Advanced Design class taught in the spring by Boca Raton Professor Dharmesh Patel took on the task of developing concepts to expand the 50,000-square-foot arts education facility as their semester project.

The students unveiled their final conceptual drawings and models earlier this month in front of the Armory Art Center Board of Directors and staff and some city officials. Each of the 11 students received a certificate from the Armory Art Center for the work, and the top three were awarded prizes after being picked by three Armory board members and a local architect who served as judges. Mateus Avelar received $500 for first place; Joseph Dagostino received $300 for second place and Alexsandra Dienstbach received $150 for third place.

Leaders for the nonprofit Armory Art Center that has been providing arts education since 1986 said demand for classes has continued to increase, requiring the need for extra space. Currently, three buildings are on the site, including a historic Art Deco building. During the past two years, student enrollment increased 14 percent with this year’s record attendance of 3,350 students.

“It is now time for the Armory to renovate and expand to meet the needs of our students and our community. We have been fortunate to partner with the Palm Beach State College Advanced Design class,” said Tom Pearson, executive director of the Armory. “It’s a win-win for the students and a win-win for us.”

The designs are available at the Armory Art Center to give the community and potential donors ideas to reference as the organization moves forward with its expansion plans.

“I’m proud and grateful that they came to us, and I’m also very proud of the students and the hard work they put into the project,’’ said Patel, Architecture Department chair, noting that students were not initially aware of the possibility of earning an award.  “They went above and beyond what was asked of them. They were working on things that I did not require as a grade. They made small animation movies for the designs. I asked for four boards with their drawings, images of their designs, floor plans and elevations, and many did five.”

“My goal for this project was to create a modern, elegant, and friendly design which would engage the community and pay respect to the Art Deco Building, which in my opinion, deserves our appreciation and means a lot to the Armory Art Center and the city of West Palm Beach,” Mateus said.

Students said the experience gained was unmatched. “The opportunity to actually work on a real-life project, a building that you can visit and walk through was an amazing experience,’’ said Dagostino, a licensed general contractor and A.A. degree graduate who will transfer to Florida Atlantic University in the fall to pursue his bachelor’s degree in architecture. “We had an opportunity to interact with the teachers to see what their needs and concerns were and what their visions were and turn that into our visions to create something.”

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