“Joshua Tree is a unique location for (USC) architecture students to study because the climate is very difficult.”
Joshua Tree National Park may not seem like an ideal place for undergraduate architecture students to design and install a building, but to Douglas Noble, an associate professor of architecture at the USC School of Architecture, the difficult environment of Joshua Tree poses the perfect challenge for some of the design projects of fourth-year architecture students.
“Joshua Tree is a unique location for architecture students to study because the climate is very difficult,” Noble said. “So when we ask fourth-year undergraduate architecture students to design a building for Joshua Tree, they’re faced with enormous challenges … where would they put the building? There’s no electricity, there’s no water. There’s no help of any kind.”
Now, as the result of years of tireless work and effort, USC architecture students have installed a shade structure called the Carapace Pavilion in the park — with the team receiving multiple industry awards for their work.
“Before they graduated, our students had an award hanging on the wall that many professional architects never get. So, all the students who worked on that original design team have an AIA design award on their wall, and that’s not a student award … at the event we were given our award for this little tiny project, and the next award-winning project was SoFi stadium,” Noble said.
The partnership between the USC School of Architecture and Joshua Tree began a decade ago. Noble, passionate about national parks and motivated to do some sort of project with his students involving one, came into contact with the superintendent of Joshua Tree National Park, Mark Butler, who happened to be a USC alumnus.