Architecture Grad’s Gallery Loft Design Takes First Place

On February 3, 2003

  • Joseph Messick, who obtained his masters degree at UB in 2002, won first place in the American Institute of Architecture Students Design Review 2002 competition for a freestanding storage loft he built for the College Street Gallery in Allentown. Image Contributor

A recent UB graduate won the American Institute of Architecture Students Design Review 2002 competition for his thesis work, which incorporated traditional architectural design and hands-on construction.

Joseph Messick, who received his master's degree from UB in 2002, took top honors at the competition, which was held from Dec. 29, 2002, to Jan. 2, 2003.

The project, an entirely freestanding storage loft built into available space in the College Street Gallery in Allentown, garnered Messick $250 and a feature in "CRiT," the AIAS magazine.

"People would look up and see all this wasted space, and they'd tell me that I should really get a loft," said Michael Mulley, owner of College Street Gallery.

Mulley said the loft, which provides a second story to the one-story gallery and can support 80 lbs. per square foot, has allowed him to store a large amount of equipment and supplies that he would not have been able to otherwise.

"It totally transformed the space," Mulley said. "(Messick) made a remarkable effort. It's a small wonder."

According to Associate Professor Dennis Andrejko, chairman of Messick's thesis committee, it was Messick's involvement during each step of the project - from planning to construction - that set Messick apart from other applicants and earned him the acclaim.

"(Messick's thesis work) transcends the normal process of investigation," Andrejko said. "By applying his plans, he gained added insight, knowledge and experience, which was invaluable."

Messick, who has worked for the last six years in the construction industry, not only designed the loft but also built it himself. Messick said the architect's job does not stop with blueprints.

"The architect really needs to be there at the end also," Messick said. "A set of plans can only tell so much about what the project is supposed to be about, and a lot of details are left up in the air at the end."

According to Mulley, Messick spent over four months and 2,000 hours working on the project, often working 20-hour days.

"You can graduate from the architecture program without actually building anything, just by drafting and planning," Mulley said. "So Joe really went above and beyond with this loft."

According to Andrejko, the intense level of work was one of the challenging aspects of the loft project.

"It required an arduous effort from many perspectives because of the trials and tribulations involved, because of the design-build aspect (of the project)," said Andrejko.

Messick said that ultimately the project was not only the culmination of his work at UB, but a way to combine his work in construction and his studies in architecture.

"I never realized it was an actual possibility that an architect would actually be doing this type of work," he said.

- Additional reporting by George Zornick

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