KNOXVILLE — Asia Dixon, a senior in architecture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, wants to use her degree to make a difference in the lives of other people. Thanks to the Gensler African-American Internship and Scholarship competition, she’s now a lot closer to being able to do just that.
Dixon, a native of Nashville, competed against architecture and design students across the country to win a scholarship for her fifth year in the architecture program and a paid summer internship at one of Gensler’s regional offices.
Gensler, a global architecture, design and planning firm, awards two academic scholarships but only one of includes a paid summer internship.
“Asia Dixon has been one of the most outstanding students in the college throughout her four years of study,” said John McRae, dean of the College of Architecture and Design. “From the beginning of her freshman year, when she represented the college at the chancellor’s Torch Night ceremony, she has stood out. Her design studio work is excellent, reflecting a very creative spirit and ability. Asia represents the highest and best qualities in our outstanding student body. She will, upon graduation, be a wonderful addition to the profession of architecture.”
As a finalist for the competition, Dixon submitted a video about her work and passion for design.
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Dixon’s project submission was a design proposal for the Center for Sustainability Education in Nashville and would be part of a larger proposal in Nashville involving a new convention center. Dixon designed her project to be a part of the Avenue of Sciences, a corridor between the proposed convention center site and the current Adventure Science Center.
“When designing the center, I wanted to create a connection to nature, as well as to design a building that was LEED-certified,” Dixon said. “I designed the structure with views to the exterior and multiple opportunities to experience the outdoors and also created a design allowing for adequate daylight and sunlight.
“I also created spaces for the community to utilize. Part of the purpose of the proposed Avenue of Sciences and the center was to bring the community together and create a link between downtown Nashville and surrounding communities.”
After graduating in 2011, Dixon hopes to specialize in residential design, specifically in creating healing environments.
“What inspires me most about design is being able to make an impression, to make a difference in the lives of other people,” Dixon said. “It starts on a smaller level as far as changing the lives of an individual and then changing the lives of a family and then changing the lives of a community. And this is where the built environment comes into play as far as creating those spaces that promote health and wellness and the well-being of individuals.”
She also hopes to be among the small group of African-American females that can call themselves registered architects.
“I remember a couple years ago coming across a magazine article and reading that the percentage of African-American female licensed architects has grown to .2 percent. With just seeing that and being presented with that challenge is a personal inspiration to me.”
Dixon is a student ambassador the College of Architecture and Design and an officer in the National Organization for Minority Architecture Students, UT Knoxville chapter. Outside of the college, she is a member of People of Style and Education (POSE) and Diversity Affairs. She was also the recipient of the American Institute for Architects Minority Scholarship in 2007, which was renewable until this semester.
Gensler has 32 locations and over 2,300 professionals on five continents. The firm has more than 3,500 active clients in virtually every industry and delivers projects in architecture, interior design, brand design, product design, planning and urban design and consulting.
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