Two Students Win National Scholarships, Internships

Apr. 10, 2017

Mary Morgan Smith, a third-year student in the School of Interior Design, and Mustapha Williams, a fourth-year student in the School of Architecture, won prestigious national scholarships and internships from Gensler, a billion-dollar design firm with 46 locations across the world.

MaryMorganSmith 3rdID IMG_0449Mary Morgan Smith | Gensler Brinkmann Scholarship

Smith was awarded a 2017 Gensler Brinkmann Scholarship in recognition of her academic excellence, design ability and creative expression.

Watch Smith’s story.

One of just two students to earn the prestigious accolade, Smith receives a scholarship and an internship with Gensler.  Smith will intern at Gensler’s San Francisco location this summer.

“This whole process has been very exciting because it’s given me a chance to reflect on everything I have learned and how I’ve applied it,” Smith said. “It also excites me how much I still have to learn, and I don’t think there’s any place like Gensler to do that.”

Smith’s winning submission reimagined the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, transforming the top two floors into a botanical research center, public library and administrative space. Designing around the existing core, she connected the two floors and created a space where museum employees could engage with visitors.

“All my concepts always go back to the connection of people because that is really what inspires me and is important to me, and that’s what, as a designer, I would like to get across,” Smith said.

Read Gensler’s announcement.

Taylor Odom, now a fourth-year UT Interior Design student, and Erin Collins, an Interior Design alumnae, earned the scholarship in 2016 and 2015, respectively.

Established in 1999 as a memorial to Donald G. Brinkmann, a gifted interior designer, inspirational leader and former partner at Gensler, the Gensler Brinkmann Scholarship Fund celebrates Brinkmann’s career-long commitment to nurturing new design talent by presenting outstanding interior design students with scholarship and internship opportunities.

MustaphaWilliams Spr17 IMG_0339Mustapha Williams | Gensler Diversity Scholarship

Williams took first place in the 2017 Gensler Diversity Scholarship, an esteemed distinction that includes the opportunity to intern with Gensler.

Watch Williams’s story.

Founded to cultivate a more diverse professional culture, the Gensler Diversity Scholarship empowers African-American students to make a vivid impression on the architectural profession. Scholarship candidates are evaluated on their creative rigor, compelling designs and commitment to user-driven innovation.

“Good design inspires me because I see what another architect has done and how it is affecting people who experience the space,” said Williams, a Nashville native. “I want to do that. I want to design a space that does that for people. I want to leave this world better than how I came into it.”

Williams’ winning submission included a design that reimagines the Farnsworth House, a steel and glass house designed and constructed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in Plano, Illinois. Williams’ design juxtaposes the floor-to-ceiling glass structure with large, concrete walls, serving, he says, as an antithesis of the original design.

“My guiding design philosophies and principles would definitely be accessibility, sustainability and just making a beautiful building, a beautiful space,” said Williams.

Read Gensler’s announcement.

For information about the UT School of Architecture, visit archdesign.utk.edu/architecture. For more information about the UT School of Interior Design, visit archdesign.utk.edu/interior-design.

Gensler, an award-winning multi-national firm, specializes in architecture, interior design, brand design, product design, planning and urban design and consulting and has more than 2,000 active clients representing virtually every industry.