Known for its supposedly haunted 12th floor, the historic landmark now known as the Ben Lomond Suites was featured in the Weber State University design challenge, or charette, for a mock-trial renovation of the lobby and dining room of the Ben Lomond Suites.
Interior design technology and design engineering technology students came together on Thursday to participate in the contest. Students were placed in teams of four from different areas of study and given a 48-hour timeframe to come up with their renovation designs. Each team had to produce a three-minute video, a virtual model of the interior and two 13-by-19 digitally crafted boards in the grand ballroom to prepare for this Saturday’s demonstration at 4 p.m.
“Last year was our first charette that we’ve done in this manner,” said Jacie Johnson, the nine-year associate instructor of interior design. “We just found we needed to get our students working competitively faster, give them exercises under duress, because when we give them a class assignment, they have 2-3 weeks to finish it, but when it is in the real world, that’s not how it really is. Students may get little sleep over the 48 hours. Last year, (they got) maybe three hours a night, if they are lucky.”
In the spring semester, every junior student will need to participate in a charette. The design industry holds charettes to give students from different studies a venue to come together and engineer design concepts for particular problems. The focus of a charette is to solve a problem in the quickest amount of time to replicate a real-life scenario.
Ben Lomond Suites was erected on the same foundation of the previous building, Reed Hotel, in 1927. First called Bigelow, it didn’t receive its current name until 1933, when Marriner S. Eccles bought the hotel and renamed it Ben Lomond.
“The Ben Lomond Hotel has been renovated many times,” said program coordinator Kristen Arnold, “and unfortunately, some of (those) renovations have wiped out some of the historical features of the building, and that’s part of what the design challenge is: to bring that back. Students can tell from the floor plan what is structural. And they just have to go off historical style (Italian Renaissance revival) to select the furnishings and architectural detailing.”
The teams will be graded on a 10-category rubric for a total of 50 points. Judges will look for craftsmanship of presentation, clear explanations of projects and concept statement, amongst other criteria.
“We don’t know till we get there what we are doing exactly,” said Amy Peterson, a sophomore who attended the competition. “I’m just going to go and work hard for 48 hours. It is a little intimidating because we don’t know exactly what it is going to be happening and who we will be working with. I don’t have any other classes that are in the way, but I did have to take off work.”
Julie Zeigler, a freshman, came back to school after obtaining a degree in chemical engineering to follow her passion in interior design.
“I always liked interior design,” she said, “and when I was getting to the point to go back to work, what I really liked to do was residential design, and at some point I questioned, why not? I did process engineering work, but I couldn’t get excited about it. I don’t know what to expect from this competition. I don’t have a good sense for the scope of the project, and I imagine it will be more than I anticipate. I’m hoping that we will be able to get enough sleep. I already forewarned my husband, so he is going to be the go-to guy.”