Constructing a Career in Architecture:
2024 MAF Scholarship Winner
Cory Hoffman 


Graduate architecture student Cory Hoffman’s favorite work of architecture is not a single building, but an entire town. “Columbus, Indiana is home to great works of architecture from Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen, Kevin Roche, and I.M. Pei,” said Cory. “Each building is individually important to Columbus’ ecosystem and has its own unique style, and yet this mid-size town still feels cohesive.”

Cory, who is enrolled in the Master of Architecture program at University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, is the 2024 recipient of MAF’s Daniel W. Toshach & AIA Saginaw Valley Chapter Scholarship. MAF’s Scholarship Jury cited Cory’s all-around student excellence, leadership activity with AIAS (American Institute of Architects-Students) and impressive academic record among the reasons for selecting him for the scholarship.

“I was ecstatic to receive the Daniel W. Toshach Scholarship,” said Cory. “I currently work at TSSF Architects, a firm founded by Daniel Toshach himself, and I will strive to continue my education in his honor.”

Cory’s path to pursuing an education in architecture was inspired at a young age. “I was always surrounded by hardworking people, particularly my grandpa John (Papa John), who is a huge inspiration. He would bring me to the senior living complex where he worked as a maintenance man, and I was fascinated how he could fix any problem with his vast building trade knowledge. That fixation on the built environment followed me to high school where I attended the building construction program at the Saginaw Career Complex (SCC), which offers early career programs for high school students to gain experience in the trades.”

He continues, “I believed I would be a contractor until my senior year, when my instructor (Allen Thompson) recognized that I was more passionate about designing than building – something I hadn’t noticed      in myself. He arranged for me to take a weeklong class at a local architecture firm, where our project was to repurpose the infamous abandoned “Beans Tower” of Saginaw. I loved the design process and the idea that my work, and a structure, could impact so many people’s lives. That experience solidified my decision to study architecture.”

As part of their MAF scholarship application, architecture students are required to submit personal and leadership statements.  Added Cory, “I included the story of my journey through the building construction program at SCC, and shared that while an undergraduate student at Ferris State University’s architecture program, I learned that architecture can be so much more than just a building, with the potential to change the whole ecosystem around it.”  Cory also shared that he joined FSU’s AIAS Chapter in his first year, and by his 3rd year, was serving as social media manager, where he notified fellow AIAS chapter members of activities and developed collaborations with other chapters. At TSSF Architects, he also was able to hire two architecture student interns from FSU, and is providing guidance that will help them thrive in the post-graduation work environment.

Students are also required to submit a design portfolio. Among the items Cory submitted are capstone, solar decathlon, small town studio, and community focused projects; personal water colors and rugs he created; and for competition entries including community & social justice (award) and solar decathlon (finalist), as well as his receiving the Ferris Foundation 2023 Merit Scholarship.

After graduating from Ferris State University with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture with a focus in sustainability, Cory took a year to focus on other aspects of his life outside of schooling. “With my free time, I learned how to juggle, learned American Sign Language, and started a small rug tufting business,” he said. “I am currently researching the art of clothing fabrication, and hope to continue learning new skills.”

Cory entered Taubman College’s M.ARCH Program with advanced standing, which will allow him to complete his graduate degree in two years instead of three. “At Taubman, I am excited to be learning from some of the best minds in architecture and have their support for my future professional growth,” said Cory. “After Grad school, I would like to focus on sustainable community-centric designs, and want to join a firm that has similar ideals as my own. Eventually, I would like to open my own firm in my hometown of Saginaw, MI to give back to those who gave so much to me. I am really interested in sustainable and/or community-based projects. Projects that have a positive impact on the environment and economy     .”

Michigan Architectural Foundation’s mission is to advance awareness of how architecture enriches life. How does Cory think architecture enriches life?

“Architecture, combined with urban design, shapes the world we live in day to day and is also a way to express the human experience and carve creativity into everyday life,” said Cory. “Not only can architecture enrich human life, it can also be sustainable to enrich the environment’s life as well.”

“Furthermore, architects can influence how a person goes about their day, how they feel emotions, connect people, and even influence an entire economy.

Positively impacting the lives of every single being is the reason I continue to study architecture.”


*featured photos in this article include a selection from Cory’s design portfolio