SPDC Students traveled to San Francisco in August on the 2018 Peter and Linda Riguardi Travel Fellowship

In August, 12 MSU School of Planning, Design, and Construction students had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco, CA, on the 2018 Peter and Linda Riguardi Experiential Learning Travel Fellowship Program.

Photo of Riguardi Fellows at Tesla.
2018 Riguardi Scholarship Fellows tour the Tesla Factory on their trip to San Francisco.

In August, 12 MSU School of Planning, Design, and Construction students had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco, CA, on the 2018 Peter and Linda Riguardi Experiential Learning Travel Fellowship Program.

Three fellows were chosen from each major: Construction Management, Interior DesignLandscape Architecture and Urban & Regional Planning.

This exciting opportunity was made possible by a gift made to Michigan State University by Peter and Linda Riguardi, which enables SPDC students to experience the workings of the professional world in all four career areas, learn how the disciplines work, as well as interact, cooperate and problem solve with each other.

Students were selected based on their high GPA and a statement of purpose about how they think they will benefit from attending professional presentations and site visits on the trip.

Throughout their five-day trip, students visited sites in San Francisco, Silicon Valley and the Bay Area.

The first day, Leigh Garroutte, vice president of operations for JLL West Coast, hosted a morning series of lectures. Students had the opportunity to learn about what JLL does in the world of real estate development, brokerage, design, planning, construction and market analytics.

Photo of Facebook Building ModelThat same afternoon, tours were arranged of the Tesla Factory (Fremont) and of the Frank Ghery designed Facebook Buildings. Students also toured the Facebook “classic” campus (Menlo Park) where JLL’s Daver Refioglu, provided opportunities for the various disciplines to learn about the integration of interior and exterior workplace spaces.

Photo of students at a train station terminal.Their second day began with morning presentations and a tour of the Salesforce/Transbay Terminal multimodal transit station. 

Shivam Sohani, Construction Management alumnus and project engineer for Webcor, Inc., presented a comprehensive project overview and lecture. He then led a walking tour of the partially opened facility, which will connect Metro, Bay Area, regional and national bus, metro subway, light rail, BART and West Coast high-speed rail services all in that one location. 

“From the green roof gardens and transit activated fountains, to the truck food court, to the walkable linkages between terminal and office and residential towers, the Transbay Terminal was amazing,” said program leaders Paul Nieratko, senior specialist in landscape architecture; and Mohamed El-Gafy, PhD, associate professor in construction management. 

During the afternoon, they were hosted by Jim WundermanBay Area Planning council president and CEO; Jeff Bellisario vice president and research manager; and Matt Regan, senior vice president of public policy, who put in perspective the pressures of regional growth, as well as the housing, transportation and environmental crises evolving in the Bay Area and how the political and public agencies try to plan for and manage economically viable futures.

The third morning, Peter Kindel, Landscape Architecture alumnus and director of urban design and planning at Skidmore Owings and Merrill LLP., presented their work in the urban design arena from a variety of locations throughout Southeast Asia, Korea and, especially, San Francisco.

Nieratko and El-Gafy said the range of projects concerning post-industrial futures, use of smart infrastructure and integrated systems that address energy, freshwater, saltwater, stormwater and waste to achieve regenerative systems with lowest global impacts were notable.

The final activity of the week took students on a five-mile walk through Golden Gate Park from the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood to the Pacific Ocean, along the way seeing the Conservatory of Flowers, the National AIDS Memorial Grove, the California Academy of Sciences, the Music Concourse, the de Young Museum Building, Stow Lake and Dutch Garden.

“I enjoyed the opportunity to learn about San Francisco’s recent developmental and city planning setbacks,” said one student in his review survey of the travel fellowship. “The trip overall successfully opened my eyes to new challenges in the developing world on a large scale.” 

A highlight for many students was how the trip was shared between all four majors, and how each site catered to them differently. 

“Having the opportunity to meet other students within SPDC and learn from their expertise was extremely rewarding,” said another fellow. “This experience has given me a new perspective about my own major and will only help me further develop within my own field.”

The Peter and Linda Riguardi Fellowship Committee will be announcing the next round of fellowships in Spring 2019.

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