Benedictine Architecture Student Wins International Competition

Sabrina Rugg

Architectuur Omslag and The Aesthetic City, two architecture firms in Amsterdam, were upset with a modern “carbuncle” being built in an historic part of the city called Heineken Hoek, or Heineken Corner in English. So, as a means of protest and a way to gain publicity for more classical architecture, they created an international competition for architects to present counterproposals to what was being built. The Heineken Hoek Competition attracted proposals from around the world and topping them all is Sabrina Rugg, a senior Architecture major from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. Rugg won in both the juried and public contests. The public competition relied on an online poll and the juried competition was judged by five professional architects, owners or directors of firms in the Netherlands, Belgium, and England.

“I was shocked when I was informed that I won because there were so many beautiful entries,” Rugg said. “But I was overjoyed that I had managed to win both the public vote and the juried vote. I think the interest shows that the public is more attentive to classical architecture than what we are led to believe.”

The competition revolved around the remodeling of the street corner in question. The jury analyzed the proposals based on five criteria: 1. Composition of volumes; 2. Design of the elevations; 3. Relationship with the surroundings; 4. Level and quality of the details; and 5. Narrative.

“The parameters were helpful to establish the quality and types of drawings that needed to be submitted. I started with a lot of research, looking online at public squares in Amsterdam, walking through the streets on Google Maps,” Rugg said. “I definitely enjoyed finding elements of buildings in Amsterdam that I could take direct inspiration from. Especially windows. Windows are very important because they reveal the uses of the building.”

The members of the jury congratulated Rugg on her proposal.

“The elegance of this proposal is reinforced by its fine detailing and composition, especially in relationship with the surrounding buildings. The height of the building is proportional to those around it, and there has been an elegant effort in adapting to the building on the right by partially reducing the height and smoothing the transition between buildings. This also helps to break the facade and enhance the sense of a diverse street,” they said in the official announcement.

Dutch Post regarding the competition showing the modern design under construction and Sabrina Rugg's alternative.

The Dutch post above shows the architect’s rendering of the building under construction on the left and Rugg’s traditional alternative on the right. Rugg said the building under construction is modern in design and therefore seeks to stand out. “It’s all about originality, that’s what modern architecture focuses on. Traditional (architecture) tries to blend in to the neighboring buildings and gives more to the people who live there, rather than trying to stand out.”

Modern design also relates to modern architectural practices that focus on computer assisted design and automation.

“The workforce does use a lot of computer technology and it’s easier to do final drawings that way,” said Rugg. “But through the (Benedictine College) Architecture program, I’ve learned that hand drawing is definitely necessary for the initial steps of conceptualization, being able to feel out the design in a physical way.”

Rugg also had her work featured in Classicist, an annual, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the classical tradition in architecture published by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. She will graduate in May with a degree in Architecture from Benedictine College and is seeking a job with an architectural firm. She said she is most interested in sacred architecture.

“I am drawn to the churches and other buildings related to the faith,” she said. “Especially renovations. There are churches built in the ’50s that are in need of renovation, and I would like to find ways to return those to their former beauty.”

Benedictine College

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is honored to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. Benedictine College is dedicated to transforming culture in America through its mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.