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Interview with triumvirate contributors to the Architecture program at West Valley College

Friday, October 13, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Chris Burnham

Seyed Hamed Hooriaband

Student Laison (Term 2018)

West Valley College


As a Student of Architecture, and the President of the Architecture Club at West Valley College, I am fortunate enough to have had the privilege of interviewing three of the most impassioned contributors to the student body. I interviewed Mr. Brad Davis (President of West Valley College), Mr. Andrew Chandler (Dean of the Cilker School of Art & Design), as well as, Professor Soroush Ghahramani (Chair of the Architecture Department). My first interview was with Mr. Andrew Chandler, the Dean of the Cilker School of Art and Design.





The Cilker School of Art and Design

Photo by S. Hamed Hooriaband



I.  Interview with Mr. Andrew Chandler
Dean of The Cilker School of Art and Design


He is venerated by students, as well as, professors as someone who fosters and nurtures inspirations and aspirations. He has given back to the community in countless capacities. As Founding member of the CCCAP (Coalition of Community College Architecture Programs); Host Committee member for “Art for AIDS” (art event benefiting HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ mental health organizations); as both an experienced architectural educator and Department Chair with more than 26 years of involvement in public and private institutions. Additionally, Mr. Chandler has been a volunteer at the LPN (Lower Polk Neighbors) for about five years as the Chair and member of the board. The LPN organization is in San Francisco, represents local merchants and residents, as well as, supporting a safe and appealing Lower Polk neighborhood.


As a veteran member of the AIA (American Institute of Architecture) since 1993, he believes that this institute provides important services and contributes to a great degree to the profession. For instance, they effectively speak to the value of architecture; constantly update legal proficiency; provide a public face for potential clients. The Dean believes that the AIA “creates the professional face [of the field] to the outside world.” He added that “he would not have been a member [for 23 years] if he did not believe in its value and proficiency.”


In response to what we can do to help the AIA, the Dean identified with the engagement of the existing professionals about the dialogues and issues important to Millennials – “That is a way that young architects can enrich an established world.” Indeed he respects the AIA’s efforts in representing every interested participant of the field through their local and national conferences, as well as, programs chapters.


In brief, Mr. Chandler, the Dean of the Cilker School of Art and Design – West Valley College, enforced his commendation for the AIA and the principles by which they stand. He also believes that there is much to be done to assist the advancement of the AIA and its agenda through the student body. By allowing aspiring architects to participate in meetings and discussions related to the Cilker School of Art & Design, in order to gain feedback.


II.   Interview with Mr. Bradley Davis
President of West Valley College


After a terse tweet, requesting a meeting, and a prompt response from our Tech-Savvy College President, I was able to sit down in his office for an interview. Which came as no surprise, since Mr. Davis values students and community above all. He has raised over $5 million for various on campus facilities, such as, the art planetarium, the School of Art and Design, as well as, the School of Professional Studies. As someone who appreciates all forms of art, he has redrawn the art and design programs of the college by creating the Cilker School; establishing partnerships with numerous art communities, such as, Montalvo Arts Center.


When I asked him how he perceived the architecture program offered at WVC, he responded: “Our program is unique. We offer a quality unequivocal [to that of other surrounding colleges within our vicinity].” He believed that “Having Andrew (the dean of the school of art and design), as well as, Soroush (the professor and Chair of the architecture department), both trained professionals of the field nationally and internationally, draws in more students.” In other words, it adds a certain divergence and merit to the program. He explained how the “State of the art class rooms and living laboratory for students dedicated to architecture, as well as, a student centered – receptive staff – demonstrates the colleges commitment in highlighting the architecture program.” He also noted that this is reflected in the architecture of the CIlker art and design building, which allows for “Cross pollination of the arts [via the translucent classrooms] in different majors”.


Due to his close overseeing of the on-going construction of the new buildings on campus, he was acquainted with various aspects of architecture and the professionals of the field. He recognizes the AIA as an institute that can “Can find ways to help students augment what they need to learn from the people within the field.” Mr. Davis added that having various AIA members come to the college as speakers would “Have an impact on the quality of student education - to give them insight.” Correspondingly, in regards to ways that the college could help the AIA, he responded that by “Creating a stronger pipeline from West Valley College” we can bring architects to work here locally since it has been difficult for architects to hire from the east coast due to the cost of living.” He explained that such feats could be accomplished by “Formal integrated programs of internships.”


Brady Davis added that West Valley College “Is firmly committed to being the launching pad for art and design in the South Bay. We have invested in our curriculum and people to become the first nationally credited program; Architecture and Art is the center piece of that program.” He ended by saying: “We want to build a community partnership to build architects for the community and give back to the college.”


III.  Interview with Professor Soroush Ghahramani

Chair of The Architecture & Landscape Department:


The President of West Valley College and the Dean of the School of Art and Design, with Professor Ghahramani, form the triumvirate contributors to the Architecture program. Professor Ghahramani is an international architect with a multicultural background in arts and design. Having finished his studies in Europe, as well as, actual hands on experience in the field in Italy and the USA, he has a deep understanding of architecture and design.


In response to how he saw the architecture program offered here at West Valley College, Professor Soroush said: “We have changed the curriculum based on the industry, as well as, student needs.” He also explained how he meets with foreign university faculty on his travels when the occasion arises. He believes that “West Valley College has an outstanding Associate Degree Architecture program.” He notes that the program is outstanding because of the facilities provided by the college, along with lecture courses acknowledged and accepted by various high ranking universities in the field, such as, Saint Luis Obispo, Berkeley, and the likes.


He strongly believes that the AIA should participate in the advisory boards of the college. Professor Ghahramani replies that “We would like to see more AIA architects involved with the students sharing their insights and knowledge. The college’s advisory board meets once a year to go over the program and its related curriculum. He noted that student recognition, in the form of awards or invitations to professional conferences or AIA national conferences, would be another great way for the AIA to support the student body. He also added that “internships and helping students with networking” would be a considerable help as well. When I asked him how he thinks we can help an organization such as the AIA, he said: “By supporting student clubs and events. Also. We can setup more site visits and hold more events on the West Valley College campus.”