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Niklos Toldi, a third-year student in the School of Interior Architecture in the College of Architecture and Design, has been named the first-place winner of the 2018 Gensler Brinkmann Scholarship in recognition of his academic excellence, design ability, and creative expression.

Toldi, of Memphis, receives a substantial scholarship and an invitation to intern with Gensler, an award-winning global architecture, design, and planning firm. He will intern at Gensler’s San Francisco location this summer.

“Winning the Gensler Brinkmann Scholarship is such an honor and a blessing and reaffirms that design is my passion and exactly what I want to be doing,” Toldi said. “To be recognized by a firm as large as Gensler is not only humbling, but it also makes the long hours in studio and hard work worth it. Financially speaking, this award will allow me to continue my passion for holistic design by receiving a master’s degree in architecture.”

Toldi’s winning design was for a 30,000-square-foot four-floor office building designed for film company Annapurna Pictures.

“In studio, we studied bioluminescent organisms and were tasked with taking their form and light into consideration. I saw how the form and fluidity of jellyfish can control natural light, so for the structure I created a façade of panels that adjust to the position of the sun to break the boundary of exterior and interior spaces. The organic structure of the organism contrasts with the rigidity of the architecture.

“I chose interior architecture because I want to work with human environments and understand how we relate to spaces around us and how, with technology, they relate to us,” Toldi said.

This is the fourth consecutive year that a UT School of Interior Architecture student has won a Gensler Brinkmann Scholarship. In 2017, Mary Morgan Smith, now a fourth-year student, placed second, as did Taylor Odom in 2016. Erin Collins placed first in the scholarship in 2015.

Established in 1999 as a memorial to Donald G. Brinkmann, a gifted interior designer, inspirational leader, and former partner at Gensler, the Gensler Brinkmann Scholarship celebrates Brinkmann’s career-long commitment to nurturing new design talent by presenting outstanding interior design students with scholarship and internship opportunities.


Amanda F. Johnson (865-974-6401,

Karen Dunlap (865-974-8674,