Name: Rafael Antonio Armendariz
Year in School: Senior
Advisor and committee members: Architecture professor Glenn Nowak (faculty advisor), Honors College Acting Associate Dean Lisa Menegatos (Honors advisor), and architecture professor and UNLV Downtown Design Center director Steven Clarke (committee member)
My passion for design was first fueled early in my childhood, as I grew up spending much of my time with my father, who owned a design-build firm in Arizona. I decided to pursue a degree in architecture at UNLV with a minor in real estate. I also began taking courses through the Honors College and assumed a leadership role with the UNLV Chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students.
When I heard about the Research and Creative Honors Program, I saw it as an opportunity to end the undergraduate chapter of my life on my own terms through the completion of a personal project that addressed a problem I had identified and was important to me. My project, The City Stadia: The Next Generation of Stadium Design, reexamines the role of the stadium in the cultural and urban fabric of society. It’s served as the perfect capstone, merging my interests together in a culmination of all I’ve learned during my time at UNLV.
Stadiums can be considered one of the premier archetypes of entertainment and leisure that the built environment offers. Across the world, these venues are a source of pride, passion, and culture for fans of all ages and backgrounds. However, the current model can be financially straining on the communities that stadiums become part of, with limited usability and return on investment.
I approached this problem through the lens of urban design in order to reimagine the concept of the stadium so that it might become a more productive component of the city. The result is a multiuse, complex design that uses public viewing as a mechanism through which to weave the cityscape and sportscape together, blurring the lines between city and stadium.
While the program is giving me closure on one chapter of my life, it’s also leaving me with renewed excitement and ambition to start the next one. I’m going on to pursue a master’s degree in architecture at Ohio State University and will eventually work to obtain my architectural licensure in the state of Nevada, with the hope of practicing in Las Vegas.