Article By: Laura Swanson
Published: Aug 19, 2011
SCAD master of architecture
students conceptualize, research, analyze, document and develop schematic architectural design solutions in their thesis classes. When Erin Rahn began research for her thesis project in June 2009 she immediately identified and related to a complaint posed by the youth of innumerable rural areas across the country: "there is nothing to do."
This common gripe energized Rahn to design a Research Forest Community and Recreational Area for the Effingham County community, a place she feels deeply connected to through far-reaching family ties. Rahn's thesis project proposed to repurpose an unused area in the city of Rincon, an undertaking that ultimately impacted her community and her personal development in remarkable ways. For the project, Rahn gained insight from Effingham Industrial Development Authority CEO John Henry, who later served on her SCAD thesis committee.
With the guidance of industry professionals like Henry and the leadership of experienced SCAD architecture professors, Rahn developed a recreational site proposal that contained a community center with indoor and outdoor spaces as well as dynamic locations for open parks.
Rahn was awarded the American Institute of Architects Henry Adams Medal for outstanding achievement on her thesis project. Each year the American Institute of Architects awards an engraved medal to the top-ranking graduating student in each architecture program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board.
"The fact that Erin received the Henry Adams Medal is testimony to her design excellence," said Professor of Architecture Dr. Andrew Payne. "Erin's design proficiency was evident at all stages of the project. She was able to balance schematic design, building structure, site design and -- most importantly -- the user. The final product was a feasible, complete master plan with successful pieces of architecture located throughout."
In addition to garnering recognition from a leading professional membership association, Rahn's thesis project launched her professional career. She credits her thesis successes to the innovative learning environment at SCAD and admits that before she studied at the university she was purely a linear and technical thinker. The energetic, multi-disciplinary art school environment at SCAD inspired her to master artistic design and elevated her competitive edge.
Impressed by Rahn's abilities and work ethic, Henry offered her a full-time position at the Effingham Industrial Development Authority after her Spring 2010 graduation. As a SCAD master of architecture alumna, Rahn now uses the skills and strategies she developed at the university in her work as a research and marketing analyst. In this role she plans development initiatives for the organization and continues to guide her thesis proposal toward completion.
"I would hope that the recreational area would be open in some kind of public capacity within the next five years," said Rahn. "This community is really close-knit but most people just can't wait to get out of here, and I think that's sad. My community has a lot to offer if it could just step it up here and there and build a community park. I feel privileged to be able to bring the community to that next level and help attract people to stay rather than go."
Each workday Erin strives to positively influence Effingham County and facilitate progress that will meet the area's demands. "Erin understands the needs of the community and that is a characteristic you just can't find when trying to hire somebody," said Henry. "We created a position for her. We weren't out looking to fill another position, but while she was working on her thesis project we received feedback from everyone that was just phenomenal."