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Kayla Christensen Graduate Admissions Portfolio


This portfolio contains a sample of my creative work. Some pieces are artistic in nature while others are examples of creative problem solving. I invite you to review each sample and consider how the skills I have demonstrated here may further improve through study and application in the field of architecture.


Kayla Christensen, Self Portrait, August 2016


Deer Skull Antlers are one of the most recognizable features of a deer. Symmetrical in form they rest upon the top of the head giving the animal a strikingly beautiful appearance.

11x17 charcoal drawing, fall 2015


Still Life The subjects of these still life drawings center around elements of a simpler time. They allude to a quietness in life and encourage the viewer to slow down and enjoy the stillness of the moment.

11”x17” charcoal, September 2015

11”x14” charcoal, September 2015


Prairie Kayak I designed this boat to be completely at home in the waters of the Midwestern United States. This boat will finish out to 18 feet long and is formed entirely out of Birch and Walnut strips of wood. The kayak will comfortably carry two people across mature rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Unlike most tandem boats the forward most cockpit of this boat can be covered making it more comfortable for solo trips. The design to the left is for the finished deck with inlaid Walnut and marquetry designs of the tallgrass prairie.


Onsite Drawings


Ko Samet, Island in Phe, Thailand


Senior Design Project 2015 For my senior design project at Murray State University I worked in a group with four other students to plan and design a residential living space for students interning with the United States Forest Service. We visited and surveyed the site of the existing Intern Village located in the Land Between the Lakes US Forrest Service area. We then developed a comprehensive plan that included demolition, site development, a building that could be certified LEED Silver, environmental considerations, detailed estimate, and a multi phase construction schedule. My roll on the team was to handle building design and lead in presentations to representatives from the US Forest Service. In these meetings with members of the Forest service we had the opportunity to present our preliminary design and receive input from the client. With this structure I sought to create a building that fit the clients budget and expectations as well as a sense of belonging in the western Kentucky region. I drew inspiration from surrounding structures and considered the natural elements of the area in my design. I learned a lot from this very positive experience and in many ways this has been influential in my decision to pursue a professional degree in architecture.


Smart Grid For Schools Smart Grid for Schools is a project I work on at Illinois State University. It is a grant funded collaboration between the Center for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education and the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University. The intent of this program is to educate teachers and students in the state of Illinois on smart grid technology and home energy savings. My roll on this project as a research associate, is to design, manage the construction, and maintain hands on educational models. I also assist in the training of teachers and logistics of program implementation. Pictured here is the third version of this program at Illinois State University. Our project team wanted to create a way for students to experience the historical development of the grid designing it themselves, and recognize for themselves the need for smarter grid technology. We also sought to find a way to expose students to some real smart home technology. This version of the project gets shipped to participating schools in the state of Illinois.


Smart Homes A part of the Smart Grid for Schools program the smart homes are a tool for educating students on home energy usage. They are operated by the students using a tablet and various smart home devices and sensors. Upon implementation of the program we discovered a few design complications with the packaging of the smart homes which lead me to make some design changes. The first version, originally developed by one of my colleagues, was well conceived. Unfortunately it was too fragile for the way it was being handled in schools and packaging became a problem. I solved these problems by making very intentional design changes to the house. I added handles to the roof to make it easier to maneuver around a class room and designed a drawer to store the smart home devices when not in use. This version is more compact than the previous design and functions better for shipping without loosing any of the educational quality.


Thank you for viewing. Kayla Christensen


Kayla Christensen