A post-graduation hike on Vermont’s Long Trail inspired Jesse Randzio to become an architect. About the experience, Randzio says, “when you sleep outside for a month you really begin to appreciate the essentials of shelter.” Of course, Colby doesn’t offer degrees in architecture, so the English-major-turned-aspiring-builder had to construct his resume from the ground up. He did this by teaching himself the quintessential visual design program AutoCAD and accepting an internship at Bumpzoid, a renovation company in Brooklyn, New York, where he compiled a solid portfolio. Randzio then enrolled in London’s Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA) for a 5 year Masters’ program.
Randizio took a job at Beyond Green Construction of Massachusetts after he finished is degree. The company specializes in deep energy retrofits to achieve a 60-90% reduction in energy consumption, as opposed to that of conventional buildings. Randzio helps the company turn existing buildings into green buildings. Some of Randzio’s favorite independent designs can be seen on his webpage [http://www.jesserandzio.com/index.html] and include a nautically-influenced tree house project entitled “A Separate Place.” The tree house is an almond-shaped pod, nearly resembling a clinker boat, and is made of western red-cedar. It is horizontally encased by steel supports and fish netting. Nestled in the forest of the AA’s Hooke Park, the tree house is a quaint haven, furnished with a steel chimney and stove. Linksbooks, a publisher known for its interest in architecture, will include a profile of “A Separate Place” in the upcoming Microarchitecture.
Randzio has also designed and built in Japan’s rural Koshkura province. To commemorate the village’s annual Maple Tree Festival, Randzio built a bridge of local wood to cross a small stream in Koshkura. To construct the bridge, Randzio studied Japanese joinery, which allows for small-scale projects to be fastened with jointed timbers. These timbers assure that the bridge and its parts can be separated, carried and even interlocked into a processional chair if necessary for the elders of the village. Randzio says, “I believe that by using its own unique vocabulary of construction and design in a very specific way, every community can create a local architecture that will become part of a worldwide dialogue between buildings.” Such values are typical of Randzio’s approach to architecture, especially while abroad. “The design process is about understanding and appreciating what local resources there are to work from. It’s less about strictly adhering to a local style than about embracing it and its capacity to change.” Koshkura continues to use Randzio’s bridge, particularly for its most prized ceremonies, such as its festivals and village weddings.
Outside of his construction projects, Randzio has returned to London to AA to teach architecture classes and workshops. He currently serves as resident tutor for the summer architecture workshops at Hooke Park. In January of 2012, Randzio returned to Colby to teach an Architecture Design Workshop as a Jan Plan course that allowed interested students to re-envision Colby College through a series of model-making and drawing projects. As with many of his classes, Randzio challenged students to pursue their designs with two key goals in sight: to develop a structured design plan and to keep an open mind.
—Amy Cunningham, ’15, William D. Adams Presidential Scholar