Interview with Trent Tunks - past APA Jim Boyce Memorial Scholarship winner
Trent Tunks likes to think big. The winner of the 2018 APA Jim Boyce Scholarship is drawn to large urban design projects and this focus is fused into his academic and long-range future plans.
His goal is to graduate in the fall of 2020 with his Master of Architecture degree from the University of Texas building on his undergraduate architecture degree from UTSA.
He has already distinguished himself as a capable and creative architect-in-training. Notably, he has joined other students in a highly competitive design competition where he took home honors as a finalist. The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Hines StudentCompetition is a prestigious challenge to architectural students to collaborate across disciplines to dream and design a better built environment. Groups of five students form teams to devise a development plan for a real American city site, including designs and market data.
His University of Texas project, The Landing, created a design for Cincinnati that envisioned sweeping green spaces in an urban environment that promotes renewable energy efforts with social connectivity.
He explained his appreciation for what he calls "democratic space" that offers ample room for walkways, stairs and ramps. A wheelchair user, Trent knows first-hand the advantages and aesthetics that come with public spaces that make life easier for everyone.
In addition to his life experience adapting to wheelchair use from the age of 16, he has seen the need for architects to incorporate more accessibility, even if in small ways. While working with the AIAS Freedom by Design program at UTSA, he described one eye-opening experience of a woman who could not leave her house on her own simply because she could not hold a door open. "It took just a new door closer and new handles for her to come and go on her own. I call that freedom by design."
Inspirations such as these motivate him to expose architecture peers to wheelchair use and how it impacts design. One senses that he is on a professional and personal quest... "How can we make access more integrated? Is there a better way?"
Trent notes the scholarship has been a long-time goal and even applied as an undergraduate. He commended the mission of the Accessibility Professionals Association with a heartfelt comment "It is incredibly important to bring accessibility to the forefront - I am so thankful and honored!"