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Students design their futures

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March 8, 2010

Crushed oregano and sisal are the soothing tones that decorate the guest bedroom of the Rochesters' beach house. The headboard panels above the two twin beds feature a series of horizontal slats that complement the matchstick window blinds covering the windows and the door that opens to a balcony overlooking the ocean. The valances and pillows feature botanical prints that are echoed in the ceiling fan's leaf-life blades.

What isn't evident in the presentation board for the guest bedroom of the Rochester beach house are the hours Meredith Tannehill spent deciding not just the colors and decorative accessories of each room, but the elevations of the house-which is located on a steeply sloping lot-the details of the cabinetry throughout the house, the floor plans, roof plan, lighting and electrical plan, the door, window and hardware details, the interior elevations of all of the cabinetry and custom design work, and many other details. Tannehill was one of 22 students in the fall 2008 "Presentation Methods and Media" course, taught by Furnishing and Interiors Lecturer Dawn Schueneman.

"The focus of this course is intense skill building," Schueneman says. "I gave them information on a piece of land and told them to design a beach house. They had to develop floor plans, a lighting plan, roof plan, sections, interior and exterior elevations, details and schedules. They also had to do colored renderings of perspective drawings, elevations and floor plans, build a presentation model of the building and use CAD (computer-aided design programs) to complete all of the working drawings. After they finish this course, they should have the basic skills, which they'll hone in their future courses."

The FACS FI program is one of only a few in the nation focused on residential design rather than emphasizing commercial design. By the time they graduate, students in the program will have taken courses in every aspect of design, including mechanical systems and lighting design, which is focused on heating and air conditioning, electrical and plumbing systems; and universal and sustainable design, which focuses on designing spaces that are suitable for everyone, including those with handicaps and older adults.
The program recently achieved National Kitchen and Bath Association accreditation, which means students take in-depth courses in those areas, as well.

The FI curriculum has recently undergone a complete overhaul and Schueneman and her fellow instructors Megan Lee (Assistant Professor, Textiles, Merchandising and Interiors) and Jaya Rose (Lecturer, Textiles, Merchandising and Interiors) are incorporating new courses and new requirements.

"We've raised the standards significantly," says Schueneman, who graduated from the program in 1999 and returned to UGA in 2004 to earn her master's degree in historic preservation. "The content we teach is much greater and the projects include so much more detail. Now, the beginning studios include requirements for full sets of working drawings and presentations. We used to not ask for that until their senior year."