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This year, two students received scholarships from the Central Pennsylvania Architects Foundation Fund and American Institute of Architects, funds supported by Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects.

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As Frank Dittenhafer sees it, the annual architecture scholarship fund he contributes to and helps award is about much more than helping deserving students continue their education.

“It’s a down payment on the future and a way to see that the architectural profession is part of building a better world,” says Dittenhafer, FAIA, LEED AP, President of Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects

When it comes to the Central PA Architects Foundation Fund Architecture Scholarship, Dittenhafer says it’s the group’s responsibility to encourage young people from the 13-county area covered by the Central Pennsylvania chapter of the American Institute of Architects to continue studying architecture.

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“We’re a professional group,” he says, “and we should support students’ efforts to stay in the field and contribute back to their community - and to the world.”

Because of a grant from AIA National, the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Institute of Architects was also able to award a $1,000 scholarship this year.

Dittenhafer says the two scholarship recipients inspired him (and others on the selection committee) with what they wrote on their applications. In handing out the awards on October 11th in Harrisburg, he used the students’ own words to show why they mean so much to the future of Architecture and the communities where they will live and work.

Drawing on classic design to meet human needs sustainably 

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Lucas Evans of Wrightsville, York County, has always been interested in drawing, model building and working with digital programs. But while studying abroad in Barcelona, he found inspiration for helping future generations through a classic structure, impressing Dittenhafer, who read aloud parts of Evans’ application in awarding the scholarship.

“Gazing up at the branching columns of the spectacular Sagrada Familia, it dawned on me architecture … is so much more than sketching and developing complex, visually stimulating designs,” Evans writes in his application. “It is about creating one of humans’ most basic necessities — shelter — yet in a way that expresses creative vision and efficient function. It is about creating such structures with minimal environmental impact to preserve a sustainable lifestyle for generations to come.”

“My view of the world has broadened,” writes Evans, who will use his scholarship as he works toward a Master of Architecture Degree from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. “Whether designing buildings in the real world, or virtual structures for the sets of movies or plays, it is my hope that my work will ultimately have a positive impact on society and the future of the planet.” 

Solving crises and enriching communities 

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“I believe that architecture itself is a way to see the world,” writes Courtney Singley of Shippensburg, who will use her scholarship toward a Bachelor of Architecture at Penn State University. “This kind of mindset does not just assist in designing buildings, but in coping with any kinds of problems that humanity faces,” Dittenhafer read from her application in awarding her the Central PA Architecture Foundation Fund Scholarship.

Singley continues: “I would, of course, like to design meaningful spaces that make their inhabitants thrive and be better people. But … I fear that architecture is becoming an art for the wealthy … I would like to be a part of the change in making architecture less of an icon of wealth, and more of a way to solve crises and enrich communities and develop a kinder, healthier way of living and interacting with each other.”

“The meaning behind why we design should not be because we want to make beautiful buildings. It should be because we want to make a better society and way to live.”

Helping these students achieve their goals, Dittenhafer believes, will benefit his chosen profession, but more so the communities in which these future architects practice their craft.