Interior Design Seniors Sweep Top Awards at Industry Association Competition

PhilaU interior design seniors Renee Horst, Megan Riley and Julia Porter swept the top three prizes at the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware Chapter’s Annual Design Competition.

Horst received first place for a Sustainable Credit Union design, Riley received second place for a Communities for Encouraging Environmental Design Credit Union, and Porter received third place for her design for a Germantown Community Theater.

“Our students are talented, hardworking and passionate about their creative endeavors,” said Lauren Baumbach, director of the interior design program. “Their enthusiasm for innovation, good design and place-making is unwavering.”

For the IIDA competition, students were required to submit one interior design project on a single 24×36 board that included a floor plan, elevations, sections, perspectives and details. The project needed to have been completed within the last year.

Horst, who received $500 for the first-place award, designed a 10,000-square-foot sustainable credit union. Her design took into consideration the client’s philosophy of environmental responsibility in every investment, while addressing its strong ties within the urban community of Philadelphia.

Looking at places where the natural world coexists within the urban setting, Horst created the concept of “sustainable innovations where nature interrupts the grid,” she noted. Her space plan reflected this with a diagonal gesture of open work stations breaking through a uniform grid of private offices. Sustainable elements included use of indoor-air quality controls, a gray-water recycling system, and LEED-certified finishes and furnishings.

“Taking part in this competition made me grateful to be part of the PhilaU Interior Design Program,” Horst said. “We had a large number of students enter really strong projects, which represented our program well in front of the interior design community in Philadelphia. It also says a lot about the leaders of our campus chapter of the International Interior Design Association, who have worked very hard for this!”

Porter, the IIDA PhilaU campus chapter public relations representative, noted the IIDA student chapter’s success at PhilaU. “I am extremely proud of our program for having such a great level of participation this year.”

“We are thrilled that our current interior design students are active participants in the professional design community,” Baumbach noted. “Currently, Philadelphia University has the largest IIDA Campus Chapter in the IIDA PA/NJ/DE region.”

Porter’s third-place design took an existing field house building that sits on the Germantown Friends School campus and converted it into a community theater with the goal of creating an exciting space that evokes drama, accommodates actors and brings the community together.

She drew inspiration from the concept of “Controlled Boundaries.” On her board, Porter explained that “a theatrical event may seem chaotic at times, but throughout the entire performance, every movement, emotion and word is controlled by the actors.” She felt that the space should speak to the visitors just as the performance speaks to the audience.


For this design, Porter created concentrated drama in a sequential motion. The interior architectural elements lead visitors both physically and visually from the front doors to the auditorium entry until they reach the stage.

“I am so grateful and excited to receive the award and to have had the opportunity to share the awards ceremony that evening with other students, as well as respected professionals in the area,” Porter said. “It was a great networking opportunity, with all of the professionals present being excited and willing to speak with the students.”


The awards ceremony took place at the Hotel Palomar in Philadelphia on Feb. 17, where the winning work was displayed as part of the IIDA Mid-Winter Bash.

IIDA received 45 entries in the 2011 competition from students enrolled in the interior design programs at PhilaU, the Art Institute of Philadelphia and Drexel University.

The 2011 panel of judges included Jessica Moser of BLT Architects, Angela Marchionne of Francis Cauffman, Shannon Vail of the United States General Services Administration, Royce Epstein of KlingStubbins, and Tuong Huynh of Partridge Architects.

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