An architectural technology student originally from Westlock recently won the top prize in a competition to come up with an environmentally-sustainable design for the Canadian Western Bank’s new main branch in Edmonton.
Michelle Wiese accepted the $2,000 prize at an award reception on Feb. 2. Her design was selected out of roughly 90 entries submitted by Wiese’s classmates at NAIT.
“It was shocking,” said Wiese. “I was lucky they liked the design I had.”
Wiese, who grew up in Westlock, is in her second year of college at NAIT. She was required to enter the contest as part of her studies; Wiese said the competition was an element of her third semester design class, and previous projects required all semester to complete.
Canadian Western Bank spokesperson Curtis Pelletier said the branch located on Jasper Avenue in Edmonton is no longer large enough to accommodate their needs and they will be building a new one in the next year and a half.
As the Canadian Western Bank has strong ties to NAIT, they thought this was an excellent way to provide the architectural students with some real-world experience.
In her design, Wiese incorporated a “ribbon of glass” weaving in and out of the building, which represented the North Saskatchewan River winding through Edmonton.
Wiese indicated she based on the idea on a dream she had about a ribbon uncoiling, which her design instructor encouraged her to use in her design.
She edited the design over Christmas once to give it some more visual appeal. But in truth, after paying attention to some of the other designs being put forward, she did not think she had much of a chance of winning.
“I decided to myself that my design had a very good possibility of making it to semi-finals,” she said.
The submissions to the contest were whittled down to 20 following the Christmas break, followed by the top 10 designs being reviewed by a set of judges on Jan. 20.
Wiese said the most nervous part of the process was presenting before the live judges. “It was probably an etiquette lesson in what to do,” she joked.
Pelletier said they were looking for an innovative yet financially viable bank concept. Wiese’s design in particular caught their interest because she followed their brand and it was very eye-catching and unique, but also viable.
He added that Wiese’s design was able to incorporate a lot of natural light and also remind the judges of the river running through Edmonton.
Pelletier noted that, although Wiese won the competition, all of the students put in great submissions for the contest.
In the end, Wiese indicated she was surprised that her design was chosen out of all the others, but also very proud.
“I am a very modest person, but I am excited for myself and hopefully this helps when I finish (school) and go out to seek a place in the profession.”
Wiese said she is not sure whether she will enter the workforce or resume her studies when she completes her course.