Graduating Art Major Chooses Top-Tier Architecture Program

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Southern Virginia University graduating senior Dallin Evans took a big step in his longtime goal to become an architect when he chose last month to attend Syracuse University for a master’s degree in architecture.

“I always wanted to go into architecture,” Evans said. “When I was in middle school I thought I wanted to be a civil engineer. Later I found out that they don’t get to design buildings, so I found out that I what actually wanted was to be an architect.”

In addition to Syracuse, Evans earned admission into respected architecture programs at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and Arizona State University.

“Of the programs I could choose, I decided on Syracuse, first because they have a satellite campus in Florence, Italy,” Evans said. “Also, it’s a small program, kind of like Southern Virginia, and I really liked the idea of the small faculty-to-student ratio.”

Evans transferred to Southern Virginia University in large part because of a video profile he saw of alumnus Bryce Pendleton (’10), who was then pursuing a master’s degree in architecture at Virginia Tech after studying art at Southern Virginia. Evans had known that he could pursue a bachelor’s degree in a field other than architecture, but was not sure what his chances would be at getting into competitive graduate programs. Seeing another student succeed in that process helped him shape his own path.

Pendleton, who has since completed his master’s degree, now works at an architecture firm in nearby Lexington, Va., and is an adjunct instructor of art at Southern Virginia. He was able to advise Evans on his preparation for architecture school.

“Dallin actually came to visit the campus of Virginia Tech, and I gave him a tour around the architecture building and explained a little about what the lifestyle was like there,” Pendleton said. “I knew Dallin from when I led a Travel Study trip to Palmyra, and I was able to talk with him about architecture as we admired the Kirtland Temple and other important buildings together. When he was applying for graduate school I was able to advise him and give him feedback on how to organize his portfolio.”

Evans transferred to Southern Virginia in 2013 and chose to major in art. He came with experience in digital modeling and AutoCAD — an industry standard tool for architectural drafting — having studied drafting both in high school and at Eastern Arizona College for a year before serving in the Argentina Neuguen Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

When he arrived in Virginia, Evans quickly became involved both on campus and in the community. He played tennis for three years, served as a Student Association senator, interned in graphic design in Southern Virginia’s Communications Office, and even worked for a time at Kirchner and Associates architecture in Lexington, doing detail drawings. Through all of this, he dedicated time to his coursework and prepared specifically to study architecture beyond his undergraduate education.

Doug Himes, assistant professor of art at Southern Virginia, noted Evans’s commitment and quality work within the classroom.

“Dallin is really teachable,” Himes said. “He’s not so locked into doing things a certain way that he won’t try new approaches, and I think that serves him very well.”

Himes also noted how Evans’s work extended beyond the classroom, including regular attendance at extra figure-drawing sessions and his efforts in the Architecture Club, which he co-founded with another student and has led on several trips to important architectural locations in Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania.

“Another thing I think makes Dallin successful is how he acknowledges when he doesn’t understand an issue,” Himes added. “Often, students won’t understand the material when they first encounter it in the classroom, but they won’t admit that they don’t grasp it. Dallin, on the other hand, will ask enough questions to be sure he understands the project or the challenge that is presented. I think that distinguishes him.”

Pendleton also acknowledged Evans’s hard work outside the classroom, noting that he would often see Evans working late hours in the Tucson House as he prepared for the senior art show required of all art majors at Southern Virginia.

“The thing that really impresses me about Dallin is how many things he has juggled in the last six to ten months,” Pendleton said. “I’ve been impressed by the amount of responsibility he takes on and his commitment to being a provident provider. Being able to complete his undergraduate work and get accepted to a top-tier architectural program on top of everything else he’s been doing is an accomplishment in itself.”

In addition to his academic and professional workload, this semester Evans welcomed a new responsibility when he and his wife, Sarah Jessica Evans, became parents. Their son Parley was born just weeks before Evans would present his senior art show.

As part of his senior show, Evans created and presented 6 oil paintings depicting a number of architectural masterpieces from all over the world, from early structures like the Great Pyramid of Giza and a Sumerian ziggurat to neoclassical buildings like Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. These works are currently on display in the Corridor Gallery by Southern Virginia’s Main Hall.

After architecture school, Evans anticipates spending some time either in residential or commercial architecture. His dream is to work on large-scale cultural buildings like museums.

“I think the art program at Southern Virginia was perfect for me, getting ready to later be an architect,” Evans said. “I also think that my philosophy minor really broadened my perspective and helped me think critically.”

He will graduate with the rest of the class of 2016 on Thursday, May 5. The Commencement Exercises will take place on the lawn in front of Main Hall.