Virginia Tech Interior Design Spring Newsletter 2019

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VT ITDS Spring Newsletter April 2019

Cover art by Keren Jacob 2

VT ITDS | Spring 2019

Table of Contents

01: STUDENTS 04 08 10 12

Meet The Graduates A Thesis Prompt Out of this World Awards and Recognition Faculty Research + Thought Leadership

02: ALUMNI 18 A Message from the Chair 20 Meet the VT ITDS Advisory Board

03: ANNOUNCEMENTS 22 2019 Calendar and Upcoming Events

VT ITDS | Spring 2019


Meet the Graduates

The Future of Design

Taylor Catlett

Alisa Chance

Kristen Falk

Sara Frazier

“The future of design is merging the principles or systems thinking and technology in order to create innovative solutions that help benefit humans, as well as the earth.”

“As the new generation of designers, we should strive to enhance the human experience. “

“I believe design is becoming more and more holistic and integrated--it’s exciting to see different disciplines melt into one another.”

“The future of design is the intentional pursuit of progressive, adaptable, and sustainable solutions; today’s ideas materialized.”

Alaina Garren

Mary Graw

Katie Guillen

Yasmine Hasan

“In our ever-expanding online sharing culture, people will continue to share highlights from their experiences with their networks. Designers can use this principle to create engaging spaces that people want to share through their own lens.”

“The future of design is when you don’t find yourself wishing there was something in the space for convenience, you find convenience in ways you had never even thought about.”

“Continuing to create safe, comfortable, healthy atmospheres, while having the design mind-set and freedom to implement dynamic and luxurious designs for one’s well-being.“

“The future of design is a work in progress towards improving the quality of life for people and their environment.”

Little Rock, Arkansas

Calabasas, CA


VT ITDS | Spring 2019

Fredericksburg, VA

Annapolis, MD

Springfield, VA

Annandale, VA

Lynchburg, Virginia

Reston, VA

Keren Jacob

Charlie Krawczel

Chase Long

Casey Lowe

“The future of design is where science, technology, and nature meet to create a more synchronous environment for people to live in.”

“The future of design is the imagination of today.”

“The future of design must move toward a sustainable, net zero approach. ...we should focus on the health and wellness of our communities as a whole.”

“The future of design is creating green environments that encourage a sustainable lifestyle.”

Katherine DiDonato

Jordan Isaac

Megan Lee

Alexis McCarty

“I think the future of design is designing for not only the health and well-being of human life but also, the betterment of all life on earth.”

“The future of design is innovating with new technologies and processes, while always keeping in mind our core mission of improving the human experience.”

“Brighter design solutions and innovations that improve the human experience for all persons and promote complete environmental sustainability.”

“The future of design will be focused around sustainability.”

Blacksburg, Virginia

West Chester, Pennsylvania

Alexandria, Virginia

Vienna, VA

Richmond, VA

Richmond, VA

Baltimore, Maryland

Delaplane, Virginia

VT ITDS | Spring 2019


Sarah McCurdy

Azauria McDuffie

Bridget McLean

Kirsten Montalbano

“The future of design is us. Look to your peers, we are going to be the next step in innovation, creativity, and discovery. “

“The future of design is opening our minds to less traditional ideals of what a space should evoke, and more of what people want to experience for themselves.”

“Sustainability and Green buildings”

“The future of design is not designing for today’s problems, but for the problems we don’t know about yet. “

Kelsey Muir

Stephanie Nguyen

Jessica Peterson

Caroline Rabic

“...we’ll be responsible for bringing fresh perspectives to the design industry... we have the opportunity to influence and enhance the way people experience space through engaging, exciting solutions.”

“The future of design is designing beyond the problems of today.”

“The future of design is us, the younger generation, seeking to change this socially and politically tumultuous world with the power of design thinking and a fresh perspective.”

“...the future of design involves going back to the roots of interdisciplinary collaboration. As technology increasingly plays a roll in creating, designers must work with experts in those fields in order to successfully execute a design.”

Roanoke, Virginia.

Woodland Park, New Jersey


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Virginia Beach, VA

Pickton, TX

Fairfax, VA

Hampton, NJ

Harrisonburg, VA

Gainesville, Virginia

Nicole Robertson

Jennalee Rowden

Haley Twillman

Cara Ventura

“The future of design is technology and its ability to shape the way we design as well as the way humans interact with a space.”

“The future of design is more creative, innovative, collaborative, and hopefully sustainable. I believe it is up to us, new designers, to see this through and bring an exciting perspective that inspires the industry.”

“The future of design is inclusive!”

“Technology is the future of design. New tools have already impacted how we design and will continue to shape the industry, leading to new discoveries.”

Laís Weba

Julia Whitacre

Harley Curran

Kaitey Crouse

“The future is design for all, where everyone will have access to design, where people and the planet will both benefit from it simultaneously.”

“Design has changed the way individuals live, work, think, and problem solve. It will continue to grow and will be a part of everything. Design will be more than architectural or industrial, and graphics, but a way of life.”

“The future of design is in sustainability and collaboration. We have to work together for the health of our clients and our world. We have to affect the human condition in a positive and progressive manner.”

“To me, the future of design is using design to create healthier and happier people through people-centered design that is available to everyone.”

Hampton, New Hampshire

São Luís, Brazil

Williamsburg, Virginia

Allenhurst, NJ

New Market, MD

New Jersey

Marriottsville, MD

Colorado Springs, CO

VT ITDS | Spring 2019


A Thesis Prompt Out of This World VT ITDS Students Collaborate With NASA Houston, Texas

Last spring, Virginia Tech Interior Design’s Lisa Tucker received a call from NASA seeking a recent interior design graduate that could join their team focusing on the design of space habitats. The NASA team had primarily focused on the engineering side of these space habitats up to this point and recognized the need to weave design and function into their research. (Think astronauts moving through the space station by grabbing visible infrastructure.)

Following their visit to JSS, the students headed to Gensler’s Houston office to share their findings. The students were able to interact with design leaders and received first hand knowledge of current issues in aviation infrastructure. The trip was celebrated with a happy hour at Knoll’s Houston showroom overlooking the entire city.

Virginia Tech Interior Design Lisa Tucker, Program Chair Keren Jacob, Senior Alisa Chance, Senior Chase Long, Senior Stephanie Nguyen, Senior Gensler Contributors Lindsey Chitwood (RL) Scott Gorenc (DL)

This inquiry landed four seniors in a once in a lifetime thesis project. The structure of the program allows students to focus on research for the fall semester, serving as a solid foundation for a semester of design implementation in the spring. These two semesters were connected by a life changing trip to Houston over winter break.

Tim Hudson (DL) Larry Johnson (HN) Alan Colyer (HN) Matthew Cornish (HN) Thank You Knoll, Muuto & Joanna Prazak, Knoll Jamie Watkins, Muuto

For two days the students were immersed in NASA’s Gateway Project and Space Habitat teams, a focus on the launch, assembly and operations of a humantended space station in high lunar orbit beginning in 2022. Two students are focused on a Mars habitat, one is exploring CIS Lunar (Gateway) project and another studying habitats designed for the moon’s surface. This in-depth tour included first hand experience in full- size international space station mockups, both in a neutral buoyancy facility and on ground training, as well as construction of a virtual reality platform, Soft Goods Lab (textiles), rovers and rockets. This allowed the group to identify problems in the current designs, giving vision to how the students could solve problems. The group had the privilege of meeting the next astronauts headed to space as they suited up and submerged into the giant pool mock-up.


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Ken Mendez, Knoll Mary Haddad, Knoll

“NASA reminded us to be wary of the restrictions, while Gensler opened up our minds to all of the possibilities in design.� - Keren Jacob

VT ITDS | Spring 2019



Bienenstock National Competition

Graduating senior, Kristen Montalbano, wins second place in the national competition 4,600 sq ft | Fusa, Norway | Holistic Design Friluftsliv, a holistic day spa for patients with multiple sclerosis, focuses on the healing qualities of human - nature interaction. The Norwegian phrase Friluftsliv literally translates as “open air living� and is used to describe the value of spending time with nature for spiritual and physical wellbeing. The spa is located in Fusa, Norway, a municipality with a population of less than 4,000 residents. Just a short twenty-five minute drive from the vibrant cultural life in the city of Bergen, Fusa is famous for its

natural attractions including mountains and fjords - narrow inlets in the mountains, formed by glacial erosion with steep sides or cliffs. At the base of a fjord, the large scale mountains surround the city on all sides invoking feelings of protection and security. In contrast, at the top of a fjord, one can see miles of rolling landscapes encouraging exploration and personal discovery. Both vantage points provide a unique dynamic between human and nature interaction as expressed in the interior for the spa and apartment.

Focusing on the idea of prospect and refuge, the exercise area and pool provide opportunity for growth and encourage a positive outlook as patients work alongside others who share their same struggles, while the massage and therapy rooms serve as a place to retreat for one on one treatment with a doctor. The use of slanted walls throughout the space further supports the design concept creating moments of compression and release as one moves through the space. The contrasting color and material palette reminds visitors of their strength in their journey but also provides moments of softness and relief. This minimal material palette along with the clean lines in the architecture draw attention back to the natural features surrounding the spa to create a holistic experience. The annual Bienenstock Scholarship competitions Since 1984, the annual Bienenstock Scholarship competitions have awarded more than $430,000 in scholarships to students in hundreds of colleges and universities. Kirsten was awarded $1,500 to apply to continuing education. Student Kirsten Montalbano (Senior Interior Design) Faculty Lisa Tucker, , PhD, FIDEC, FASID Professor and Chair, Interior Design


VT ITDS | Spring 2019

The use of slanted walls throughout the space further supports the design concept creating moments of compression and release as one moves through the space

VT ITDS | Spring 2019



IDEC Competition 2018

A team of third-year Interior Design students are recognized as regional finalists in the 2018 IDEC Competition

Student Finalists Delaney Leach (Junior, Interior Design) Sydney Miller (Junior, Interior Design) Claire Grable (Junior, Interior Design) Faculty Matthew Wagner, IIDA, Assistant Professor Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design Elif Tural, Assistant Professor


VT ITDS | Spring 2019

2.5 Weeks | 6,000 sq ft | Boston, MA The prompt: design a small vocational facility that will serve as an educational and training space for individuals with ASD and other cognitive disabilities. The purpose of the center is to increase the quality of life for individuals on the spectrum and their families. The space must be designed with Universal Design principles and comply with all accessibility codes. The Rise Center is a vocational training and transition center for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). With the support of the community, people with autism are being integrated into society as independent individuals. The Rise Center aims to celebrate these individuals by giving them a space that addresses their sensory needs to promote well being and growth. This is a comforting and inviting atmosphere that supports individual successes while fostering interactions with others.

IDEC’s core mission is to enhance the education of current and future interior designers. Because of this, IDEC works to provide a number of grant, award and competition opportunities throughout the year – all of which provide students with the resources and knowledge needed for educational and professional development

VT ITDS | Spring 2019


Faculty Research

ASID Transform Research Grant Active Living at Home Through Interior Design: Senior Residential Environments and Affordable Assistive Technologies Virginia Tech Interior Design faculty were awarded the ASID Trasform grant to apply research in human behavior through the lens of Interior Design. The Virignia Tech team aims to identify cost-effective ways to design safe and viable living environments for low-income seniors living at home, specifically focusing on how changes to the living environment and the use of assistive technologies may facilitate a more active and healthy home life. A transportable home environment prototype will be designed and built for further state-wide data collection and community education about healthy behaviors at home.

Through a survey conducted online and in-person at various sites with a diverse group of older adults (n = 130), and a focus group study preceded by a handson educational session (n=15), the team examined seniors’ initial perceptions and attitudes toward currently available interior design features and ambient assistive technologies that would support active living at their homes. The focus group discussions identified the barriers to adoption, and gaps between existing technologies and current and future needs of seniors for active living. The findings underscore the necessity of affordable, less complex technologies at home, and demonstrate how older adults are willing to invest in safety-enhancing technologies

that would support independent and active living at home even if such technologies are not the most affordable options. Privacy concerns and return o n investment emerged as the most significant barriers to high-tech assistive technologies, highlighting distrust in technology and financial concerns as underlying factors for older adults’ technology acceptance at home.

Research Team Elif Tural, Ph.D. Lisa M. Tucker, Ph.D. Nancy Brossoie, Ph.D. Helene Renard, Ph.D. Kathleen Meaney


VT ITDS | Spring 2019

SCALE X Travels to Blacksburg

A day of foresight and thought leadership This Spring, Humanscale partnered with local architects and thought leaders to give VT ITDS students a taste of their annual SCALE event in Blacksburg.

The afternoon concluded with a lively panel discussion focused on career paths and next steps for Interior Design students.

This half day session, named SCALEX, brought innovative topics and discussions from renowned speakers including Kristen Ruch with Steelcase, Cyndie Goss with Mohawk Group, and Emily Coleman with Novus Architects. The day’s schedule included presentations on the Living Building Challenge, Sustainability, and projections on the impact of technology on the future of the workplace.

“It was a privilege to share some of our field knowledge with the students. Hearing their questions was inspiring – it demonstrated their passion and commitment for the interior design field!” – Kristen Ruch, Steelcase, Advisory Board Member

Special Thanks Jon Strassner, LEED AP, Humanscale

Get a leg up on the competition and leverage your professional development by attending SCALEX. SCALEX is a half day event hosted by Humanscale, designed to bring innovative topics and discussions from renowned speakers directly to you.


SCALEX is an opportunity to hear from experts on topics that expand on what you’re currently learning in the classroom. With real-life scenarios and expert-led panels, SCALEX will prepare you for a career in design. SCALEX is for interior design students and educators who believe in the impact of design to transform lives. By attending SCALE, students will be better prepared to take on their first professional roles, and educators will explore relevant topics and resources to augment their curricula.

Kristen Ruch, Steelcase Cyndie Goss, Mohawk Group SPEAKERS INCLUDE Emily Coleman, Novus Architects Student Coordinators

Kristen Falk, IDEAS President Jennalee Rowden




Words of Wisdom to the Graduating Seniors The inside scoop from Director of HR at FOX Architects

Congratulations! You’ve just been offered a position at the design firm of your dreams... But now what? Julianne Kim, Director of Human Resources at FOX Architects, provides tips on what you should keep in mind as you start this new gig. 1. Be a smart worker A good impression is a lasting one, so make an entrance at your new job by proving you have inner drive and know how to work intelligently. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re always the first to arrive and last to leave, but simply proving you produce work in an efficient manner. Time is money and the projects you’re on will have allocated time for specific tasks. It’s your job to ensure the task is completed before the deadline and done correctly. There’s no more wiggle room in negotiating deadlines with clients. A deadline is a deadline and it’s critical you meet it consistently. Listen to and observe how your supervisors manage their time. A good supervisor will be transparent in sharing previous mistakes that they’ve learned from and share tips in how to be successful on the team. Be aware of what time your supervisor comes in — follow his or her lead in how they work and emulate it. Imitation, we know, is the sincerest form of flattery: compliment your colleagues and supervisor by imitating their positive work traits. Prioritize your work and avoid distractions such as texting and emailing your friends during at work. Catch up on personal emails or errands during lunch hours so 16

VT ITDS | Spring 2019

you can stay focused on the task at hand. Supervisors notice when you’re cruising online or sending personal emails, even if you’re getting work done. Your firm may provide the latest and greatest technology platform for you to multi-task, but it’s best to separate your personal life from what ought to be happening during business hours.

questions to your colleagues and present a polished professional image to your supervisor. For smaller task-related question, nudge the colleague sitting next to you. For bigger questions like management or professional development, request oneon-one time with your supervisor at the end of the week.

2. Ask, seek, and knock A respected employee is an individual who displays intellectual and practical knowledge with regard to their work. Asking thoughtful questions is a good way to learn in your new role. Good supervisors encourage and welcome answering questions from junior staff. However, before you tap your supervisor’s shoulder, do a little leg work by checking to see if you already have the answer. Check emails that were previously sent to you or look to see if it’s located in internal folders or on your desktop. Make sure you do a quick search online. Refer to the notes you took — try to answer your own question by seeking out the answer. It may be right in front of you. Organize your questions into categories during your first week. Take notes and refer to it since it will seem like you’re drinking from a fire hose of information at first! This prevents you from repeating

Julianne Kim, Director of Human Resources FOX Architects VT ITDS Board Nominating Chair 2017-Present

3. Get back in the saddle after making a mistake Everybody makes mistakes — it’s really a matter of when you will make one. Whether it’s small or large, own up to it and resolve it quickly in a calm manner. No need to panic as most likely, the mistake is something that is a quick fix. If the issue is bigger, loop in your supervisor or teammate so they are aware of it — they may be able to provide a solution or brainstorm with you to alleviate it. Don’t forget to apologize, quickly and sincerely, if the mistake causes inconvenience to your team. Most of all, learn from your mistake and move forward. Learning from mistakes shows your growth as a mature professional. And be willing to share past mistakes with other junior employees who will appreciate your wisdom. 4. The soft touches in communication Remember the KISS rule when emailing — Keep It Short and Simple. It’s best to err on the side of formality in your emails, phone conversations, and texts to colleagues. That means starting your emails with “hello”, “hi”, and “dear” — not “hey”. The way you communicate at work should be different than the way you communicate with your friends and family. Limit the exclamations, abbreviations, and word trails for your colleagues to guess what you’re thinking. Write in complete sentences and clarify the

document that you’ve attached to the email you sent, instead of thinking they’ll figure it out by reading the document title. Keep your tone of voice and language clean by avoiding foul language or sharing inappropriate jokes. If you’re unwilling to send the same email to your parents, it most likely means you need to edit the content before sending it. Emails are like social media — they cannot be deleted once sent. And poorly written emails may come back to haunt your professional reputation in the future. If you’re caught up in a heated email exchange, take the time to cool down before you type a response. Request a second opinion from a neutral party to make sure you’re not reading too far into things. And if the mistake you made was not yours, but you were blamed for it, err on the side of being graceful and do not point fingers. Always stick to the facts and calmly provide a solution in a professional manner. Do not publicly shame or get overly upset at the individual. Instead, have a private meeting after you’ve cooled down. Avoid office gossip or engaging in negative talk. Take the high road by choosing to move forward and focus on your own professional growth. These soft communication skills require attention to detail. It’s the small things that make a big impact in the long run.

5. Common courtesy A positive attitude at work indicates your attitude to life in general. There are more negative people who bring others down than those who take the high road and build people up. Choose the latter. Common courtesy goes a long way. Mind your manners — sometimes it’s as simple as saying please and thank you. Leave the gossip and negative comments at the door. People will take notes in how you speak of others at work. Instead, focus on yourself before judging others. Take the time to help your fellow colleagues, but make sure you do not compromise your work and deadlines. Clearly communicate what you can do for your team and what you have on your plate rather than lashing out once you’ve been overloaded with work. People can easily read you’re stressed by the tone of voice in your email. Common courtesy should be a concept that is passed down generation after generation. It’s not an obsolete behavior, rather, it should be a common thread throughout your career.

VT ITDS | Spring 2019


A Message From The Chair

VT ITDS Advisory Board Chair and VT ITDS Alumna Jill Goebel

Hello! We are pleased to present our inaugural ITDS Newsletter. A big thank you to our Advisory Board, especially our Alumni Networking Committee for bringing this to life. We are so proud to serve as your program Advisory Board and we’d like to take a moment to introduce what exactly it is we do. You may have seen a few of us around joining studio crits or IDEAS discussions, those are things we certainly enjoy but are not part of our charter. Our mission is to assist, support, and promote the development of the Interior Design Program, its student and its faculty, by sharing our variety of expertise from a wide variety of professional practice within our industry. We act as a conduit to and from the program by promoting the program and its students externally while bringing professional counsel and current industry trends back internally. We are structured into three committees: Fundraising, Alumni Networking, and Member Development. But what does that mean for you? Our board reaches out across the alumni network stitching Hokies together across the country building relationships and paving pathways for students to link into the professional world. This network also brings professional advice and coaching to students through informal as well 18

VT ITDS | Spring 2019

as formal engagement opportunities through trips and campus visits. These relationships are cherished throughout our professional lives as they form a constant community of support and shared experience. Through fundraising efforts, the program is able to underwrite studio prizes, trips, special events, as well as improvements to the studio, enriching the learning environment and broadening the learning experience. As professionals, we know that diversity of experience and thinking drives innovation and we want to support that exposure for students throughout the university experience to build stronger designers.

As a board, we are on campus every fall and spring, and you’ll see us individually in between. Please say hello and take advantage of having access to this wealth of expertise. And give us the chance to get to know you better so we can better tailor our efforts for your success. Hokie designers are truly changing the world. Warm regards, Jill Goebel

Our role as advocate for the program makes us ambassadors for Hokie designers and the design program within the professional community celebrating the exceptional quality of the education and students alike. Our promotion of the program builds awareness for graduates making them more marketable, increases fundraising potential, and improves rankings on the Design Intelligence scores. Ultimately it is our passion that drives us to serve you. As a Hokie myself, it is a tremendous honor to come back to campus and give back in the same way those did before me. It is through this cycle of support that we build each other up, pushing the next generation to even greater heights than we ourselves could achieve.

Principal and Design Director at Gensler, Washington, D.C. VT ITDS Class of 1995

Board members convene in Blacksburg in the Fall and Spring to meet and share with fellow CAUS advisory boards...and squeeze in a football game as well! VT ITDS | Spring 2019


The 2019 VT ITDS Advisory Board

Lead-in Body

Lisa Tucker

Jill Goebel

Heather Robinson

Lisa Brockman

Professor and Chair VT Interior Design

Board Chair Gensler, Washington, D.C. VT ITDS Class of 1995

Fundraising Within Interior Design, Norfolk, VA VT ITDS Class of 1998

Fundraising Bialek, Washington, D.C.

Peter Brown

Justin Smith

Kristen Ruch

Fiona Grandowski

Membership Chair Elect AECOM, Roanoke, VA VT ITDS Class of 1995

Fundraising FM Studios, Sterling, VA VT ITDS Class of 2000

Alumni Networking Steelcase, Denver, CO VT ITDS Class of 2007

Membership Collins Cooper Carusi Architects, Atlanta, GA VT Architecture, Class of 1991 20

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Caroline Alexander

Christine Garrity

Lindsey Kite

Lindsey Chitwood

Fundraising + Board Chair Elect CCA LLC, Lexington, VA VT ITDS Class of 1990

Fundraising OTJ Architects, Washington, D.C. VT ITDS Class of 1992

Secretary + Alumni Networking INTEC Group Inc., Fairfax, VA VT ITDS Class of 2011

Alumni Networking Chair Gensler, Raleigh, NC VT ITDS Class of 2014

Julianne Kim

Amy Groome

Kristen Falk

Keren Jacob

Membership Chair Director of Human Resources FOX Architects, Washington, D.C.

Alumni Networking Chair Elect IA, San Francisco, CA VT ITDS Class of 2017

Student Chair VT Interior Design VT ITDS Class of 2019

Alumni + Advisory Outreach VT Interior Design VT ITDS Class of 2019 VT ITDS | Spring 2019


2019 Calendar Events+Key Dates



MARCH 03/21/2019 VT ITDS “Meet The Graduates”

03/28/2019 CAUS Advisory Board Meetings (Blacksburg, VA)

APRIL 04/05/2019 Mini SCALE X (Blacksburg, VA)

MAY 05/17/2019 University Commencement Ceremonies


AUGUST 08/26/2019 Fall Semester begins

OCTOBER 10/24/2019 CAUS Advisory Board Meetings (Blacksburg, VA)



VT ITDS | Spring 2019



09/05/2019 Second Year Trip to D.C.


(Above) VT Architecture and Design alumni in the San Francisco Bay Area gathered at the Pivot showroom in November 2018 for happy hour and a Hokie-themed raffle.

(Below) The annual “Meet the Graduates� event hosted by Gensler, Washington, D.C. celebrated the progress of senior thesis projects and was a lively reunion for many VT ITDS alumni.

VT ITDS | Spring 2019



VT ITDS | Spring 2019

Special Thanks... Keren Jacob - Student laison and cover design Lindsey Chitwood - Newsletter content Leigh Ann Burdett - Photography Lisa Tucker - Newsletter content and program updates Jill Goebel - VT ITDS Board updates Julianne Kim - Feature story content

Want to get involved? Reach out to Alumni Networking chair, Amy Groome at to connect with alumni in your city, or to have your story featured in our Fall 2019 newsletter!

VT ITDS | Spring 2019


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