A Thesis Project for a Motel 6?

At the end of last semester, I had the opportunity to sit in on a few BFA thesis presentations. I was impressed, to say the least. The well-planned presentation pages, dynamic renderings, and refined concepts of each student are a real testament to the strength of the program.

NYSID places a lot of emphasis on contract design, which was abundantly clear in the presentations. Despite the grandeur of the spaces, which included a hotel in Miami Beach, a giant church complex in Alaska, and a senior living community in Oregon, the designs also allowed for moments of warmth and intimacy. This was very noticeable in the senior community where the lodge-like communal area looks like an extension of the private apartments. Aesthetically, it is an extension of home.

One of the jurors said something that stuck me. He mentioned that students tend to gravitate towards designing large-scale spaces with an unlimited budget, exclaiming: “I would like to see a thesis project for a Motel 6.” This is perhaps a bit more difficult than designing a glamorous five-star retreat.

While I don’t think I’ll be designing an Econo Lodge for my MFA thesis, this will remain in the back of my mind as something to consider when choosing a project. There is something about beauty in a modest space, which is more genuine, and more refined than, say, a ballroom with 16-foot ceilings, boiserie paneling, and Waterford chandeliers.

That’s it for now. Here’s to a great start of the spring semester!


Matt Giampietro started his first year as a NYSID MFA-1 Student last fall. He earned a BA in Theatre Design from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, and was born and raised in Westchester County, just north of New York City. Matt contributes periodically to NYSID's Blog.

Phyllis Greer