Guests from around the globe will visit CAP and Ball State April 1-2 for the National Conference on the Beginning Design Student. The annual conference draws university professors and practitioners from design professions, including architecture, landscape architecture, planning, interior design, graphic design, and others.

The conference is hosted by different universities each year with this being the first time for Ball State to take the lead; and unlike some conferences, there is no central organization to help with preparations, so Kristin Barry and Sean Burns took on the herculean task alongside their regularly scheduled classes in the Department of Architecture.

The pair have been working since last summer: building a website, setting a budget, and ensuring that each abstract (129 in all) had three peer reviewers (that’s 387 reviews), selecting and editing the top papers, and creating a schedule.

The result is 98 authors presenting 79 papers. Plus meals, receptions, publicity, and many other unseen tasks. Attendees are coming from as far away as the United Arab Emirates.

“Sean and I have put so much work into this, but we are fortunate to have the help of some of our colleagues, such as Sarah Keogh and Adriana Keramida-Strahl, who have spear-headed the student work exhibition” said Barry. “Students designed and are building a large assembly on which we can display beginning student work from Ball State. Additionally, we have students driving shuttles, students helping assemble packets, and students working at the registration table. We have several other professors on our steering committee and those working as moderators.”

CAP professors, especially those teaching in the collaborative first-year curriculum, have often attended and sometimes presented at the annual NCBDS conference. Burns has attended and presented four times and encouraged Barry to apply in 2018. Barry has since presented and attended three times.

“What I like the most is the opportunity to hear, learn, and share ideas from other creative people who teach beginning design,” said Burns.

“It’s a very inspiring conference to attend; people present extremely interesting projects that they’ve done with students,” added Barry. “Our hope was to bring this inspiration to our faculty and students, while showcasing the interdisciplinary first-year program and early design curriculum that CAP offers.”


The public is invited to the keynote address by Eric Höweler at 5 p.m. April 1 in AB 100.

An associate professor of architecture at Harvard, Höweler is known for “his advanced design studios, which bring together students from the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and urban planning, covering such topics as housing and urban architecture, climate adaptability and transit-oriented development” according to the Harvard website.