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Centennial’s Kateryna Kravchenko wins architectural award

Picture of Centennial College Architectural Technology program graduate Kateryna Kravchenko after winning first at the Ontario Association for Applied Architectural Sciences Student Awards

Kateryna Kravchenko, who hails from the Ukraine and is finishing up her Architectural Technology fast-track program at Centennial College, has won first place in the Ontario Association for Applied Architectural Sciences (OAAAS) Student Awards for her imaginative building design called the Nautilus Centre.

Kateryna is the second Centennial student to win the award in as many years. Gilbert Nacu earned first prize at the 2014 OAAAS Student Awards for his bold site plan entitled The Edge, which incorporated retail space and environmentally sustainable features in his design for a multipurpose residential complex.

For Kateryna, architecture represents both a family affair and a personal interest. “It’s because of my father,” she says. “He’s an architect in the Ukraine.” She sees architecture as a way to put her artistic skills to work. “I like drawing, and I like to create interesting things,” she continues. “For me, architecture is creating buildings and unusual shapes. It’s more than just drafting.”

After receiving her bachelor’s degree back home, she ventured to Canada to take a post-graduate program at Centennial. It was the option of a shorter program with faster entry into the workforce that attracted her to the college. “I chose Centennial because it had the most convenient program for me,” she explains. “They had a post-graduate program, so I wouldn’t have to study another three years.”

Her Centennial program enhanced the artistic ability she already possessed with more practical skills. “This program was a big help for me, because I already had the creative side from my program back home,” she explains, “but here I got what I needed, and it was the construction side. So now I can create any building, I think, because I know how it works from the inside.”

“I always start with visualization,” Kateryna says of the approach she used to create her winning Nautilus Centre. “I get some shapes from my mind. And then I started to search how the building could be built.” For that, she turned to the knowledge her program had given her. “We learned a lot about how a building can be built, and what you need, what materials, how to create shapes.” With credit for her previous studies, Kateryna was permitted to enter the second year of the three-year program at Centennial.

The Nautilus Centre was a labour of love for Kateryna, something she spent most of the semester creating. “During this last semester, all the time I was drawing, drawing, drawing. This building was always in my mind.” Her devotion would pay off when one of her professors, John Romanov, selected her work for the OAAAS competition. “John helped me a lot with this project,” she says, “I was so excited about that, because he remembered my project throughout the semester and always helped me with it.”

“Before the competition, I didn’t sleep for about two days,” she admits. She needn’t have been anxious. Kateryna took the first-place award, which includes a $1,000 monetary prize, a one-year OAAAS membership, plus accommodation and transportation to attend the awards ceremony at the annual OAAAS Conference, which took place this year on May 8 in Hamilton.

At the moment, Kateryna is looking forward to her Centennial graduation ceremony in June, and is postponing her return home for awhile longer. “I’ll stay in Canada for a few years to get some more experience and more information about how architecture, building and construction works here,” she says. “Then I want to go and take all my knowledge and skills back home.”

She’s counting on the award, and the benefits that come with it, to help her advance her career, including pursuing the valuable networking opportunities. “I met some interesting people there, some architects, and I got to know some of them. Maybe I became a little bit recognizable,” she says of the exposure that the awards ceremony afforded her. “That was the main reason why I tested myself there: to make myself known.”  

In the meantime, her work will become even more well known when it goes on display along with the other 2015 OAAAS Student Awards winners at the Doors Open Toronto event at the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) headquarters May 23-24.