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Helping Buckeyes go global

Education abroad programs can have a life-changing impact on students of all majors. For architecture students, experiencing great designs around the globe firsthand is imperative to becoming better problem solvers.

“To be a student of architecture and not travel means you really don’t understand the scale of these things that you’re looking at, the texture or how they tuck into a particular landscape,” Architecture Professor Jackie Gargus said. “All of that is really, really important.”

Last spring, 15 College of Engineering students were able to explore the roots and continued development of Cuba’s modern architecture, thanks to a generous gift from prominent Columbus architect and distinguished alumnus George Acock (’63).

Acock’s first trip to Europe, taken several years after he graduated, had a profound effect on him and his craft. “I thought I did pretty good when I went to Ohio State, but after I started traveling, I improved, and I’d like to see the students experience that.” 

A long-time advocate for the Knowlton School of Architecture’s education abroad programs, Acock’s gifts have supported international travel experiences for 55 Ohio State students since 2009.

“Through travel, you can learn how many different ways you can approach a problem and how you can creatively respond to that in your architectural practice,” he said. 

Creating an education abroad program in Cuba has been a longtime goal of the Knowlton School, explained Gargus, one inspired by Acock.

“George Acock was an early visitor to Cuba long before most people had a chance to go and he was very impressed with the lively art scene and the fabric of these old colonial towns,” she said. “And for a number of years he’s wanted to make it possible for Knowlton School students to have an opportunity to visit.”

His most recent gift made the expensive trip accessible to students, enabling them to explore Cuba’s unique architectural environment firsthand.

“Without Mr. Acock’s funding this trip would have been completely impossible,” said Gargus, who led the 10-day visit. Students explored Cuba’s contrasting architectural styles in the capital city of Havana as well as Trinidad, Cienfuegos, Miramar and Viñales, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

“We saw several different periods of really spectacular architecture. There was the colonial architecture that characterized old Havana and towns like Trinidad and Cienfuegos,” Gargus explained. “There was also a kind of art deco architecture from the 30s, 40s and even 50s.” 

Senior architecture major Jack Raymond felt fortunate to take part in the trip and further his knowledge of architectural design around the world. 

“The Cuba trip was a wonderful way to accumulate a new set of experiences, which broadened my awareness of architecture across the world,” he said. 

Support like Acock’s ensures that all Buckeye architects—regardless of their financial resources—have the opportunity to gain the global perspective needed to thrive in the internationally connected world.

by Candi Clevenger, College of Engineering Communications,

This story was originally published in the 2016-2017 issue of Forward, the College of Engineering's giving impact report. Read more giving stories and the full report online.