Syracuse University Magazine

1SU_3896.jpg

Jason Foggie '16

Designing Cultural Connections

Jason Foggie ’16 has an uncommon appreciation for ramps. Long, spiral ramps—ramps going gracefully and elegantly from place to place—were often the focus of his design projects as a School of Architecture student. “There’s just something I like about the idea of seamlessly connecting people in a very gradual fashion,” says Foggie, who came to Syracuse from the High School for Math, Science and Engineering in New York City. “It takes a lot more space to build a ramp. But I like smooth connections and smooth transitions.”

Linking people also served as the principle behind Foggie’s thesis project, which focused on discovering how architecture can be an agent of connection or integration. Specifically, he considered how design can help integrate refugees into the cities hosting them. “Refugee camps have basically become modern ghettos, where you have sometimes a literal border around the region the refugees reside in,” he says. “Refugees are physically marginalized along the edges of cities, and the cities that are helping or hosting them provide aid, but there’s no cross-connection. Refugees receive resources, but there’s no opportunity for them to contribute.” The solution, Foggie believes, is integration that begins with conversations about cultural uniqueness. “How do we create an environment that accommodates for different cultures and allows people to start to build a new life for themselves, start to work, and start to feel more human and less like someone in a holding pattern?” he says.

Foggie experienced firsthand the value of sharing cultural differences when he visited Taiwan in spring 2014 as part of the Rubin Global Design Studio, an annual architecture travel program. He considers the trip a highlight of his time at SU and one of the most amazing experiences of his life. “We met with students from Hong Kong and local Taiwanese students to have an architectural and cultural exchange,” says Foggie, a photography enthusiast who loved taking pictures of “people meeting people and enjoying life” during the journey. “They showed us things they appreciated about their city and took us to local food places. And we got to design together and share our designs for that semester with each other. It was really great to be alongside students who live halfway across the world—learning about their cultural experiences and how that influences their design, and sharing how American culture has influenced our design.”

While his wholehearted appreciation for all kinds of people and places allows him to be open-minded about the future, he is seeking professional opportunities in California (where, coincidently, his girlfriend lives) and hopes to begin his architectural career there. “Anywhere I go and anything I do, I believe I can make connections with people—pure, passionate, sincere relationships,” says Foggie, who points to his spiritual life as the primary source of his sense of well-being. “I’m hoping that the joy that I have in Christianity and the hope in Christ that I have will emanate as a really bright light. And if people ask questions about where this happiness, this joy, this light comes from, and if they want some of that light, I can show them. It’s a free gift.”     —Amy Speach

Photo by Susan Kahn