4 rising talents in West Michigan design

From a greenhouse collaboration project with Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids to a bold vision to establish a blueprint for sustainable design in the middle of the Algerian Sahara desert, the work of four rising design talents is being recognized by the architecture community. 

During its 100th anniversary celebration in November, the Grand Rapids Chapter of the American Institute of Architects honored students and recent graduates of Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University. 

This group includes 2023 graduate Hayden Prillwitz, who was named the KCAD M.Arch program's 2023 AIA Medal for Academic Excellence recipient. Imane Hocini, a 2023 graduate, won her second Student Project Award for her proposed design, Eco-Oasis of Ghardaia, a vision of sustainable design in the middle of the Algerian Sahara desert. Current students Kyle Sutton and Ian Wardowski were named the 2023 AIA Grand Rapids Scholarship Recipients. 

AIA Medal for Academic Excellence

Hayden Prillwitz, who completed the NAAB Master of Architecture (M.Arch) degree program, callsthe KCAD M.Arch program the most creatively freeing experience of her career. Through that program, she was able to dive into topics that were meaningful to her and share them through different modes of representation. 
Hayden Prillwitz
“It's incredibly hard to explain how much that program has shaped me and what my educational experience at KCAD means to me, but the fact that I miss it already and would do anything to go back probably says a lot,” says Prillwitz. “My most memorable projects from my time at Kendall are my master's thesis and a greenhouse collaboration project with Dwelling Place of Grand Rapids. Both of these projects were filled with creative freedom, and even post-grad, I'm working through more ideas for both and extrapolating on them further.”

She’s currently working as an architectural designer for Pure Architects in Grand Rapids while pursuing licensure. LEED and/or WELL certification is also on the horizon. Outside of her career, Prillwitz’s goal is to stay creative in architecture-adjacent fields. 

“I'm still expanding on past architectural projects to continue to be a student of the industry,” she says. “I want to make sure that I'm fulfilled with creative endeavors outside of the workplace and always striving to learn something new.” 

Grand Rapids Student Project Honor Award

Imane Hocini’s student project, Eco-Oasis of Ghardaia, is described as a bold vision to establish a blueprint for sustainable design in the middle of the Algerian Sahara desert.
Imane Hocini
“The recognition was not just a validation of my efforts but a profoundly pleasing experience that resonated with my passion for sustainable design in challenging environments,” Hocini says. “This project was a personal exploration born from my cultural and educational background as an international student.”

The Eco-Oasis of Ghardaia envisions a sustainable urban design, challenging the reluctance toward desert living in Hocini’s home country, Algeria, by addressing the critical need for climate resilience and proposing architectural solutions for hot and water-stressed regions.

“Looking ahead, I would love to see the Eco-Oasis of Ghardaia translate from vision to reality, fostering sustainable communities and setting new precedents for architectural identity in Algeria's southern desert,” says Hocini, who hopes to contribute to the architectural landscape in the U.S. and in her homeland.

This is the second year in a row she received the award for Student Design Project. In 2022, she was honored for her work on the Museum of Sustainable Concrete, a conceptual project. 

A rendering of Eco-Oasis of Ghardaia-Residential by Imane Hocini.

During her two years as a graduate student, Hocini says, her approach to architecture underwent a profound transformation.

“Engaging in critical thinking, discussions, and writing about architecture became integral to my academic journey,” Hocini says. “I discovered the power of theory in shaping effective practice and realized how a solid theoretical foundation insulates the discipline of architecture from being perceived as superficial or merely cosmetic.”

AIA Grand Rapids Scholarship 

KCAD students Kyle Sutton and Ian Wardowski are the 2023 AIA Grand Rapids Scholarship Recipients.
Kyle Sutton
Sutton says the honor validates his decision to switch careers mid-pandemic. He was a civil engineer with Fleis & Vandenbrink before pivoting to architecture. 

“I wanted to pursue architecture because I thought it better aligned with my skillset and I had a real passion for the subject,” Sutton says. 

In his third and final year of KCAD's Master of Architecture program. Sutton was drawn to this program because of its NAAB accreditation, small studio size, and the more individualized attention from faculty. Grand Rapids’ historical support of art and furniture design was also a draw. 

“The highlight of my time at Kendall has been working alongside and learning with my talented peers,” said Sutton, a Grand Rapids native.

Wardowski agrees.

He earned his undergraduate degree in architecture and sustainability from Ferris State University, a program that, while enriching, wasn't accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. Knowing that becoming a licensed architect in Michigan required a degree from an accredited school, Wardowski chose KCAD because of its affiliation with Ferris State.
Ian Wardowski
“The unmatched student-to-professor ratio at KCAD provided ample opportunities for collaboration and guidance, influencing my decision,” Wardowski says. “My decision was also influenced by my growing affection for the west side of Michigan, particularly Grand Rapids, where I wanted to continue calling home.”

A highlight of Wardowski’s academic journey was the chance to study abroad in London. It was his first venture to Europe.

“I was captivated by the exploration of the "placelessness" of the London Underground public transit system for my research project,”  Wardowski says. 

Following graduation, Wardowski is looking to work in the residential side of architecture with a focus on designing high-performance single-family homes.

“It is crucial for me to work in an environment that prioritizes collaboration and sustainability, particularly in the creation of impactful residential designs,” Wardowski says. 

From furniture to shoes, from arts to education to even policy creation, design is everywhere you look. Designed in Michigan, a story series coming out of West Michigan, is devoted to sharing the expansive role design plays in Michigan's past, present and future. It is made possible through the support of Kendall College of Art and Design and Landscape Forms.
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