Calling all nature lovers: ASU student design contest offers scholarship prizes

September 13, 2016

Arizona State University is hosting a design contest for students that will offer more than $4,000 in scholarships for the winners, but access to a Latin dictionary might give entrants a leg up on the competition.

The office of University Sustainability Practices is accepting design proposals for its Biophilia Contest for the Tempe campus Memorial Union and the Sun Devil Fitness Centers across all campuses. nature decoration in office Biophilic design, which aims to incorporate nature into a built environment, has been shown to increase productivity and reduce stress in various studies. Photo courtesy Sonja Bochart Download Full Image

Biophilic design, which aims to incorporate nature into a built environment, has been shown to increase productivity and reduce stress in various studies. The concept is all inclusive, as just adding a plant or an aquarium to a small room can enhance mood and creativity. 

“This is an emerging design field, and the [Memorial Union] and the fitness centers are leaders in a lot of ways, they innovate in a lot of ways, so I think our students are the perfect group to work on it,” said Lesley Forst, program coordinator for the office of University Sustainability Practices.

Biophilia, or “love for humanity and nature,” is a concept first theorized by German psychoanalyst and philosopher Erich Fromm and expanded on in the 1984 book “The Biophilia Hypothesis,” edited by Stephen Kellert and Edward Wilson. The book theorizes that humans have an evolutionary preference to preserve and appreciate nature, exemplified by our general attraction to the facial features of baby mammals and other species, as well as a continued history of care for flora and fauna across the world.

The practice differs from biomimicry, which attempts to emulate and mirror nature in design, but shares some of the same core principles in appreciation of nature and life as a whole.

Design teams made up of current ASU students have until Dec. 1 to submit their proposals to an 11-judge panel of green building design professionals and ASU building and activities administrators. 

Semifinalist proposals will be open for online voting by the entire student body. The first-place team will receive a $3,000 scholarship, with second and third place earning $1,000 and $500, respectively.

The winning proposal has the potential to be installed on campus, and with renovations to the fitness centers and the Memorial Union on the horizon, Forst and the judging panel are hoping to see design teams from different program specialties working together to come up with unique and creative proposals. 

However, the contest is not restricted to the Memorial Union and fitness centers, and design teams are allowed to submit proposals for any building across the ASU campuses.

“I think it’s the first time in design history that [biophilic design’s] had such a broad offering,” said judging panel member Sonja Bochart, a Tempe-based interior designer and Herberger Institute adjunct faculty member. “I am very drawn to the interdisciplinary perspective for biophilic design — you can bring together so many different disciplines and people with different backgrounds in creating solutions for both the human experience in the built environment and also ecological considerations.”

Visit for a complete list of rules and applications.

Reporter, ASU Now

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For ASU trainers, it's a dog day morning, afternoon and night

This semester, ASU students are teaching 11 dogs to become service animals.
Raising these puppies to be service dogs is hard but rewarding for ASU students.
It's a tail of 10 ASU students, 11 dogs working together to help others.
September 13, 2016

Students in Sparky's Service Dogs club perform 24/7 task, raising puppies to help people with disabilities such as PTSD

They’re the coolest ones on campus, and — even though they sleep through class — they’ll get to graduate in only two years.

Then, thanks to the dedication of a group of Arizona State University students, Sparky’s Service Dogs will spend the rest of their lives helping people in need.

This semester, 11 Labrador and golden retriever puppies are learning how to become assistance animals for people with diabetes, mobility issues or post-traumatic stress disorder. They’re being raised by 10 students, who are members of Sparky’s Service Dogs, a campus club.

“When we started this, we decided we really wanted to create a community on campus for these raisers,” said Taylor Randle, the president and one of the founders of the club, which, besides the raisers, includes more than 100 members who serve as “puppy sitters,” handlers and all-around helpers.

“We understand that it takes a lot of time and effort, and it does take a village to raise a dog. It’s not just one person so we really support each other.”

Taylor Randle is president of Sparkys Service Dogs and is raising Kristoff, a black Lab, who will move on to specialized training next spring. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Randle, a senior kinesiology major, was attending the Passport to ASU beginning-of-semester event two years ago when she saw two golden retriever puppies at one of the club booths. The Scottsdale-based nonprofit Power Paws Assistance Dogs was looking to get ASU students interested in starting a club.

Randle and some friends immediately decided to launch Sparky’s Service Dogs. It started with just a few raisers, including Randle, who took on Kristoff, a black Lab. The club partners with Power Paws, which breeds the puppies and provides the raisersFor now, the number of raisers is capped at 10. More raisers will be needed next year. and their animals with dog food, gear and basic veterinary care.

For raisers, the job is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The dogs go everywhere with the students — to class, to the grocery store, on the bus. ASU’s housing department gives permission for the dogs to live in the dorms on a case-by-case basis, and three of the current service puppies have been dorm dwellers.

Emily Hopkins, a junior criminal justice major, lived in the dorms with her dog, Quantico, a 73-pound black Lab.

“A lot of people know who you are, and everyone wants to be your friend,” she said of dorm life with a dog. “But it was good because there are always people around who will watch him for me.”

Jordan Patterson, a junior mechanical engineering major, said her dog, Ulani, draws a lot of attention on campus. “It’s fun, but sometimes you have to tell people not to pet her because she’s working.”

Randle said that being among the crowds on campus is very stimulating for the dogs, but they settle quickly in the classroom.

“They lay under the desk or behind you, and they sleep through the whole class,” Randle said.

Several times a day, the raisers have to stop what they’re doing to spend 10 minutes or so training their puppies in basic obedience as well as behaviors such as opening and closing doors. The students also take the dogs to weekly and monthly trainings and evaluations.

After their time with the raisers, the dogs get specialized training according to aptitude and then are placed by Power Paws with a person who needs an assistance dog.

“Kristoff refuses to retrieve anything, but he uses his nose constantly. So he will become a diabetes alert dog,” Randle said. “He’ll go with a child with type 1 diabetes and, using his sense of scent, will alert them to high or low blood-sugar levels.”

She'll be sad when Kristoff moves on next spring, but gratified that she has trained him to help people. A few weeks ago, Randle took on 12-week-old Vail, a black Lab, who will follow Randle to grad school after she graduates from ASU next May.

Although it’s a big responsibility, raising the dogs has been enriching as well.

“I’ve learned a lot about responsibility, and about my time management and the amount of things I can juggle,” Randle said.

“I’ve grown a lot as a person.”



Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News