Launched in 2021, the award recognizes the top 100 graduating students in North America who, as emerging leaders, are interpreting and reimagining the fields of architecture and interior architecture.
Selected from a diverse pool of candidates, Chung and Kanté are two of only 44 architecture students to receive the honor, selected based on the creativity, rigor, skill and professionalism exhibited by their portfolios and nomination entries.
“We were blown away by the quality of work you and your peers submitted, and we feel that you represent a bright future for our industry—one of beautiful, thoughtful, innovative, sustainable, and inclusive design,” says Avinash Rajagopal, editor in chief of the magazine, in the award letters.
Integrating architectural and anthropological research methodologies, Chung’s design portfolio shows an equal commitment to her original motivations as a visual artist and a phenomenological connection to experience.
In “Eroding Topographies,” Chung’s proposal aims to repurpose the abandoned Skytop Quarry in Syracuse to fit the recreational and counseling needs of refugees living in the area. By using the “Water Temple” designed by renowned Japanese architect, Tadao Ando as a precedent, Chung’s project transforms the harsh landscape of the quarry into various spaces that can be used for storytelling, sports, education and gardening.
And in “Stored Labor,” Chung reflects on discriminatory labor laws and their impact on the design of private housing developments to design migrant domestic worker accommodations in her mother’s native Hong Kong. By conducting in-person interviews and quantitative surveys asking workers to evaluate and draw their own spaces, her study offers an alternative understanding of gender relations, rooted in an urban, post-colonial context in Asia.
“Thoughtful, rigorous, and creative, Kristabel is an ideal student with a promising future in both the profession and the discipline,” says Lawrence Chua, associate professor in the School of Architecture, who nominated Chung.
In addition to receiving the Future100 award, Chung was a part of the school’s National Organization of Minority Architecture Students chapter student design team that was awarded first place in the 2019 Barbara G. Laurie Student Design Competition for their mixed-income housing proposal. Additionally, she has won the Gold Key Scholastic Art and Writing award, as well as taking second place in the Southern California Art Regional Competition for her acrylic painting, “The Paradox of the Individual.”
“For the past five years, I have struggled immensely trying to genuinely figure out my passion within architecture. I have worked on many projects alongside my academics to design more than just buildings and follow my passion in making and researching,” says Chung. “Showcasing my portfolio to the “Metropolis” jury with work that is outside, yet still tangential, to the field of architecture, is a true honor.”
After graduation, Chung will be working at Perkins&Will as a Designer 1.
Kanté’s design portfolio reflects a wide range of design interests and skills, from large scale urban and landscape speculations, to product and graphic design, to pragmatic urban design interventions, such as “Layers of Skin, Scales of Segregation,” a proposal focusing on the fundamental issues within the city of Syracuse’s 15th ward through the context of a skin, the central factor to injustice.
Having previously worked at Elkus Manfredi Architects, Kanté’s portfolio also shows a deep understanding of construction drawing, 3D modeling and building technologies. Her work on the Volpe Development Project, completed while interning at the firm, included parametric prototyping of façade designs and 3D additive manufacturing for the 3 million square foot masterplan in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“Coumba’s work evinces a unique sensibility that enables her to confront the many social and ecological challenges that define contemporary life without compromising her very high design standards,” says Michael Speaks, dean of the School of Architecture, who nominated Kanté for the program.
During her time at the School of Architecture, Kanté has been a member of numerous school and university organizations, including the American Institute of Architecture Students, African Student Union and European Union, and has served as an officer for the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students and the Architecture Student Organization . In 2021, she was named one of the 15 winners of Gensler’s inaugural Rising Black Designers Scholarship and Design Challenge, a prestigious national scholarship for young Black designers.
“Being selected for the Future100, among so many strong and passionate designers, is surreal to me,” says Kanté. “I’m proud of how far I’ve come as a designer and find it to be a wonderful and proud expression of my undergraduate progress. It has also shown me my own potential and how far I can push myself and my work in a positive and responsive direction.”
After graduation, Kanté hopes to spend the summer working in West Africa, specifically the Ivory Coast, experiencing and understanding different means of designing that reflect a more global perspective outside of the academic realm. She’s also interested in exploring the possibilities of studying urban planning.
As part of the Future100 honor, Chung and Kanté’s work and credentials have been shared with architecture and design firms across North America to encourage professional connections and career opportunities, and are posted on the “Metropolis” website and in the magazine’s March/April issue, on newsstands now.
To view the full Future100 list, visit metropolismag.com/programs/future100.