(L-R): Jason Côté, Meixi Xu, Henry Hammes, Peter Huesemann-Odom
2023 Brinkmann Scholarship + Design Challenge Winners
May 19, 2023

Gensler Honors Recipients of the 2023 Brinkmann Scholarship on the 25th Anniversary of the Passing of Donald G. Brinkmann

Four Exceptional Interior Design Students Were Recognized As This Year’s Scholarship Winners

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gensler, an award-winning global architecture and design firm, is proud to announce four emerging designers have been selected as recipients of the 2023 Gensler Brinkmann Scholarship, an annual program that celebrates design excellence and innovative thinking.

Established in 1999 as a memorial to Donald G. Brinkmann, an inspirational interior designer and former Gensler principal who personified the essence of design, vision, and leadership, this year marks the 25th anniversary of his passing.

To celebrate and honor this anniversary, Robin Klehr Avia, Regional Managing Principal of Gensler’s Northeast Region, brought together a jury comprised of Don Brinkmann Award Winners, which is an internal award bestowed annually to a staff member whose exemplary talent, leadership, and vision deserves recognition. This year’s jury was chaired by Robin Klehr Avia and included Brian Vitale (2022), Jeff Barber (2020), Susana Covarrubias (2019), EJ Lee (2018), James Young (2017), Philippe Pare (2016), David Epstein (2014), Carlos Martinez (2011), Collin Burry (2008), Mark Morton (2006), and John Bricker (2002).

“Don’s legacy within Gensler, and the design community at large, is unparalleled,” says Robin Klehr Avia, Regional Managing Principal for Gensler’s Northeast region. “On the 25th anniversary of the Brinkmann Scholarship, we couldn’t think of a better way to enrich the program than by having our past Brinkmann Award winners select this year’s scholarship and mentorship recipients.”

This year’s top prizes went to Jason Côté, an undergraduate interior architecture and design student at the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas; Meixi Xu, an undergraduate student at the School of Visual Arts in New York; Henry Hammes, a graduate student at Kansas State University; and Peter Huesemann-Odom, a graduate student at Georgia State University. The four outstanding students will be awarded $5,000 each in scholarships.

2023 Brinkmann Scholarship Recipients

Jason Côté has always been a creative jack of all trades, finding joy and fulfillment in a wide variety of artistic mediums such as film, music production, photography, fashion, and culinary work. After taking time away from academics to travel and explore, Cote approached his next journey at the University of Arkansas with a renewed passion for creating narratives through places and spaces — discovering that interior design was the perfect mix of mediums that would allow him to curate his craft and cultivate his skills to make a positive impact on the built environment.

His standout submission takes a human-centric approach to design a 12,000-square-foot robotics office in Boston, where the goal was to address the myriad of emotional states employees navigate in a single day — nearly 400, according to his research — and create different zones that cater to the needs of each emotion.

From an early age, Meixi Xu has had a love for design — always drawing in her sketchbook. She believes that verbal expression can be limited and prefers visuals and music to better convey the indescribable. Interior design helps her tell personal stories about space and create positive interactions between those who inhabit it.

For her winning submission, Xu explores her creative process for designing a new location for the well-known Harlem restaurant brand, Red Rooster. The brief required that the space go beyond a dining destination and provide an event space the community could use for performing art, lectures, exhibitions, and more. Through freehand sketches, Xu’s project explores the significance of cultural aesthetics and forms in the creation of an interior in the community of Harlem.

Henry Hammes views design as a transformative power on our perspective of the world — it surrounds us and helps define our everyday experiences. As such, Hammes believes design should create a functional, yet aesthetically pleasing human experience rooted in the science of evidence-based research.

His submission tackled the design of a modern workplace for Next Robotics that acknowledged the company’s goal of fostering an innovative and diverse future. Pulling inspiration from one of the most overlooked diverse networks of individuals existing today — public transportation — Hammes developed solutions and special typologies that allowed for underrepresented groups within the workforce in comfortable and casual environments to converge. This also meant providing zones that accommodated five key work modes and a central circulation path that connected different departments to allow for planned and spontaneous interactions between coworkers.

Peter Huesemann-Odom approaches design through an authentic, inclusive, and functional lens that leads to the creation of streamlined and thoughtful projects. Having worked in a variety of creative fields over the past 20 years, he is influenced by literature, art, music, food, and travel. Most recently, he found inspiration on a trip to Mexico where he was captivated by the power of sustainable and holistic design.

His submission walked judges through designing a new research and development hub for Next, a manufacturer of consumer electronics in the Seaport District of Boston. Incorporating elements of biophilia and robotics, Huesemann-Odom created a design scheme cleverly inspired by the company’s name that accommodates a wide variety of meeting spaces and underlines the company’s transition into the future.

“Jason, Meixi, Henry, and Peter are talented young designers whose work and innovative processes reflect the creative thinking and artistry of Don’s pioneering work,” says Robin Klehr Avia. “We are thrilled to support their development through the Brinkmann Scholarship.”

Annually, the fund celebrates Brinkmann’s career-long commitment to nurturing emerging design talent. Applications for the scholarship launch in September each year and close in March. Candidates are evaluated based on their analysis and problem-solving skills, design development, graphic presentation, communication skills, and passion.

Learn more about Gensler’s scholarships and other opportunities for emerging talent.

About Gensler
Gensler is a global architecture, design, and planning firm with 53 locations and more than 7,000 professionals networked across the Americas, Europe, Greater China, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East. Founded in 1965, the firm works globally across more than 29 practice areas spanning the work, lifestyle, community, and health sectors. We are guided by our mission to create a better world through the power of design, and the source of our strength is our people. By leveraging our diversity of ideas, our research and innovation, our shared values, and our One-Firm Firm culture, we are working seamlessly as a borderless firm in 140 countries and making the greatest impact on our communities as we continue to tackle the world’s challenges.

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