December 10, 2018

Designing the Aretha Franklin High School of Visual and Performing Arts: Gui Competition 2018

The 2018 Gui competition prompt asked students to look to a future of Detroit based on its contributions to music, art, and architecture.

Following reviews of the ten finalist, Candice Wu was announced as the winner of the 2018 Gui Competition, an annual event held within the senior Architecture Design Studio. This year’s competition prompt was to design the Aretha Franklin High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Lafayette Park, Detroit, Michigan—a project that looks to a future of Detroit based on its contributions to music, art and architecture. 

“There was incredible range of representational techniques that demonstrated she has explored the project from its formal qualities all the way through the material, structural and tectonic aspects of the project—all of which was done with incredible resolution,” commented Georgeen Theodore, an architect, urban designer and Professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture and Design, in announcing Wu’s first place recognition.  

Finalist include: Candice Wu (First Place), Becca Schalip (Second Place), Austin Lightle (Third Place), Aaron Payne & Jonathan Brajdic (Honorable Mentions), Faris Ahmed, Anthony Iovino, Nun CungBik, Maria Northern, Katie Grohnke.

Responding to a program of educational, administrative and public spaces for a performing and visual arts high school with an enrollment of 1,000, Wu used surface fragmentation to codify the experience of the interior space. The fragmentation introduces different atmospheres and light articulations that offer students and the public an interior experience that consists of distinct moments.

The building starts with a form study where clusters of inner objects conform at one end, and expand and separate at the other. “The exterior hosting shell enhances this conforming and expansion,” Wu stated. “On one end, the shell shows itself as a clustering of volumes and on the other side, the edge and plane emphasizes its autonomy.”

“Winning the Gui Competition is not a simple compliment to me, but a message telling me that I'm ready. The competition was like a journey with my instructor Viola Ago to find out what architecture I really want to make,” reflected Wu. “The winning moment also is a great reminder of how much help and recognition I have received at the Knowlton School. I'm extremely thankful to every instructor I have had.”


On May 3, 1996, the James E. Gui ‘54 Design Competition Awards Fund was approved by The Ohio State University Board of Trustees. The Fund was generously established by Jim and Ann Gui through the OSU Foundation and will exist in perpetuity. This year’s competition marks the 22nd annual James E. Gui ‘54 Design Competition. The goal of the competition is to test the skills of students in the senior design studio in designing a project for a complex program on a challenging site. The competition stipulates that the jurors are to consist of three Knowlton School faculty members, a local practitioner and a nationally recognized architect. Jane Murphy, associate professor of architecture, served as the coordinator of the senior design studio and organizer of the competition.