Architecture Student Takes Skills Global
U of I Gilman International Scholarship winner travels to China
Written By Caitlin Hites, Moscow-Pullman Daily News
University of Idaho student William Juarez assumed his desire to travel abroad and study different structures around the world probably wouldn't materialize.
That all changed when the 28-year-old architecture student received news that he had won the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which made a six-week-long trip to China a reality.
"When I applied, I could choose from Rome, China or London, but for the architecture I'm interested in, China was a better fit," Juarez said. "They have a wide variety and they're the highest populated country."
Throughout his undergraduate studies at U of I, Juarez has found modern architecture and abstract design to be the most intriguing.
"I'm interested in more commercial architecture," Juarez said. "Public buildings like libraries, visitor centers."
While in China, Juarez spent his days with a group of U of I students and a professor taking in the structures, buildings and cities.
"The first two weeks we went to explore different types of urban development in Bejing, then when we went to the second city, Changchun. We actually partnered up with the university there," Juarez said. Juarez said part of the appeal to China is that many of its buildings are designed by architects from all around the world, not just China. While Juarez appreciated the variety, he hasn't formulated a plan for where he will go after graduation.
"As far as my career, I would love to stay in Idaho because I just love Idaho," he said. "But as far as what I want to do with architecture, I just don't feel that Idaho would accommodate for some of my crazy ideas."
His "crazy ideas" are attractive to some organizations, though. The Gilman Scholarship is not the first award Juarez has received in his time at U of I. He also received second place in the "Best Use of Idaho Wood" competition to design a marketplace in Moscow, and he placed third in an ICMA concrete block competition to redesign the transit center.
Currently, Juarez is working on a project for an international contest sponsored by a firm he visited while studying in China.
After completing his undergraduate work, Juarez plans to focus on attending graduate school.
Juarez, a first generation college student, said his family is very supportive of him following his architecture goals.
"Coming from an immigrant family, that's the idea, you know, to provide a better life, better education, and it's kind of scary for both of us," he said. "When my parents see me struggle, it scares them a little."
However overwhelming college may be, Juarez's family has watched his love for architecture since he was a child playing with Legos. He said he has always known he will be an architect and that he has always been a good artist as well.
Mostly these days, though, Juarez said he does a lot of the sketching in his head before putting it on paper. He believes the artistic ability transfers perfectly to his future career, but he can still get frustrated by designs.
"You have this idea of what you want, but then you actually have to implement certain things. The wall is this thick, the store is this wide, the room has to be at least this size," he said. "Once you start talking about structure ... that's where the initial idea always changes, because you have to account for real world problems."
Juarez, however, is not fearful of change.
"Sometimes, for me, it's difficult to step away from the first design. You kind of always fall in love with the first," Juarez said. "You realize you have to change something and it changes the proportions and looks completely different. I tell myself always be open to change. It helps you evolve."
Caitlin Hites can be reached at 208-883-4632, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moscow-Pullman Daily News