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Two students in the College of Architecture and Design have won prestigious scholarships and internships with Gensler, a global architecture, design and planning firm with 46 locations and 5,000 professionals on five continents.

Mary Morgan Smith, a third-year student in the School of Interior Design, won a 2017 Gensler Brinkmann Scholarship in recognition of her academic excellence, design ability, and creative expression. She will intern at Gensler’s San Francisco location this summer.

Mustapha Williams, a fourth-year student in the School of Architecture, earned a 2017 Gensler Diversity Scholarship for his creative rigor, compelling designs, and commitment to user-driven innovation. He is currently studying abroad in Poland and will intern at one of Gensler’s locations this summer.

Both Smith and Williams are Nashville natives. Smith attended Christ Presbyterian Academy, and Williams attended Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet High School.

To enter Gensler’s competition, each student submitted a resume, a letter of support from the college’s dean, Scott Poole, and a five-minute video about why they deserve a scholarship and internship.

“This whole process has been very exciting because it’s given me a chance to reflect on everything I have learned and how I’ve applied it,” said Smith. “It also excites me how much I still have to learn, and I don’t think there’s any place like Gensler to do that.”

Smith’s winning submission reimagined the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, transforming the top two floors into a botanical research center, public library, and administrative space. Designing around the existing core, she connected the two floors and created a space where museum employees could engage with visitors.

“All my concepts always go back to the connection of people because that is really what inspires me and is important to me, and that’s what, as a designer, I would like to get across,” she said.

Williams fell in love with architecture when he started drawing the Nashville skyline for fun as a middle school student.

“My guiding design philosophies and principles would definitely be accessibility, sustainability, and just making a beautiful building, a beautiful space,” said Williams.

Williams’s winning submission included a redesign of the Farnsworth House, a steel and glass house designed and constructed in the 1950s by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in Plano, Illinois. He redesigned the house’s floor-to-ceiling glass structure with large concrete walls, creating a house that is the antithesis of the original design.

“Good design inspires me because I see what another architect has done and how it is affecting people who experience the space,” said Williams. “I want to do that. I want to design a space that does that for people. I want to leave this world better than how I came into it.”


Amanda F. Johnson, 865-974-6401,

Tyra Haag, 865-974-5460,