For 2023 MAF Scholarship Winner Kyle Sutton, the potential of architecture first became apparent when he visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. “I grew up in the suburbs, where most homes were similar in nature, either ranches, split-levels, or colonials,” said Kyle. “Even though I was only ten years old at the time, to see a structure that seemingly defied gravity and nestled so well into its context, and unique in every manner, created a formative experience.”
Kyle, currently in his third (and final) year at Kendall College of Architecture and Design’s (KCAD) Master of Architecture program, is the 2023 recipient of the AIA Grand Rapids Scholarship.
The AIA Grand Rapids Scholarship (which is administered by the Michigan Architectural Foundation) is designated for undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a career in architecture with preference given to residents of the AIAGR Chapter region attending any college or university. Scholarship applicants may also be non-residents attending a college or university in the AIAGR Chapter region. This was the inaugural year for the AIA Grand Rapids Scholarship (and one of two awarded in 2023).
“For me, winning an MAF scholarship is an affirmation of my career switch from civil engineering to architecture,” said Kyle. “It is a reminder of my hard work and my potential (as with the other scholarship winners) for the further development of the architectural education and profession in Michigan.”
As part of their MAF Scholarship applications, students must include a personal statement describing their interest, experience, and plans related to architecture. “I find architecture to be a dynamic field, one that has the freedom to experiment, while also being regimented. It can be as expressive as desired, all the while being technically based. These dichotomies are ongoing interests of mine, as are the challenges of moving towards a more carbon-neutral future and similar sustainability goals to better the condition of the planet.”
Applicants must also submit a personal portfolio. Kyle submitted the same portfolio he used to apply to KCAD’s Master of Architecture program, which demonstrated his abilities, interest, and progression in the field, and potential to further his understanding and technical skills.
“To me, architecture is as much of an art as it is a science, it’s a nearly perfect blend of elements,” said Kyle. “When arranging all the components, it is equally as important to think through the big ideas such as program, spatial qualities, and context of details such as window jambs, recessed services, and door hardware.” True to his early interest in Fallingwater, Kyle has a particular affinity towards residential design but would love the opportunity to design or take part in a wide range of typologies.
MAF’s mission is to advance awareness of how architecture enriches life. How does Kyle think architecture enriches life? “Few things have as much impact on daily life as architecture because every person interacts with their environment and it shapes their life, consciously or unconsciously,” said Kyle. “Well-designed or intentional architecture has to opportunity to create moments to further enrich life”
He continues, “Like many others, I enter the field with a different background and perspective. I believe that a variety of experiences can only add to the field, a more diverse conversation can lead to a more informed design and consequently a better design.”
Photos, from top: Kyle; selections from Kyle’s portfolio; Kyle in studio; one of Kyle’s favorite works of architecture, Saynatsalo Town Hall (in Finland) by Alvar Aalto.