Architecture Students Design, Build Pavilion

Gathering Pavilion

By Brian Kleemann

College of DuPage Architecture students have added their touch to the renovated campus by providing an outdoor gathering pavilion.

As part of the summer Architecture 2840 Design Build class, 16 students enrolled in the course designed, built and installed the temporary pavilion just south of the Technical Education Center. The wooden structure consists of five bays that form a unique and inviting space on the west side of campus. Click here for photos and click here for a video.

The project was funded by a $15,000 grant through the College Foundation’s Resource for Excellence program.

“I wanted to see what would happen in a design studio class when students needed to build what they designed,” said Mark Pearson, Associate Professor of Architecture, who chronicled the project on his blog. “It’s a valuable educational tool to simulate a real-world activity with a real-life project that includes a site and a budget.”

Pearson said one challenge was to include all of the students in the final design rather than selecting just one student’s submission. He broke the students into teams, which created 12 different schemes. From there, the class looked at similarities and designed five schemes in greater detail. Finally, all of the students debated the pros and cons and selected one design.

“I tried to get the students to think about the poetics of design and the details of construction and how both reinforce each other,” Pearson said.

Student Francois El-Bittar of Oakbrook Terrace said it was crucial to create something that perfectly fit into the selected site.

“It was important to create something that would be entertaining and eye-catching,” he said. “We wanted to frame the views, especially the lake and the fountain.”

Once the design was finalized, the students conducted a presentation for DuPage County officials. Even though a building permit wasn’t needed, Pearson felt the presentation added to the classroom experience.

The students then constructed the pavilion in the TEC. After College of DuPage President Dr. Robert L. Breuder gave his approval, the students installed the pavilion.

“Normally, architecture students are most heavily involved in the design aspects of a project,” Pearson said. “Here we added that layer of construction, which added to the depth of the course.”

Although the gathering pavilion is expected to stay in place through the fall months, the strong positive response may extend this into next spring, Pearson said.

El-Bittar, who is transferring to IIT to study architecture, said the class was both fun and interactive. Student Kevin Smith of Winfield, who plans to transfer to the University of Illinois, said the course was an invaluable learning tool.

“It really helped me grow as a designer,” he said. “It was one of the best experiences I’ve had at College of DuPage.”

For more about the Architecture program, visit