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Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 9:05am

Three college freshmen from Rochester Institute of Technology didn't have to worry about building codes or contractor bids. Their job was simply to come up with a winning architectural plan for RIT's new downtown Center for Urban Entrepreneurship (CUE), located in the historic Rochester Savings Bank.

Last February, the E. Philip Saunders College of Business invited students from across campus to enter the Design and Vision Competition. The winning team members-Katriel Pitts, Seth Gottlieb and Yevgeniy Parfilko-were awarded $500 for their submission.

"The outstanding winning design is just another example of how RIT students are receiving practical knowledge in the classroom that has real world application," says Delmonize "Del" Smith, who was recently appointed as the first director of the center.

"We are encouraging selected architects to consider the winning team's ideas and I am optimistic that the final building design will incorporate at least some of their concepts."

As many architects know, it takes artistic imagination, creative vision and practical and technical knowledge to design sustainable spaces that are open and inviting.

"From the very beginning, we envisioned this space, the CUE, as an interpersonal one-where learning rather than teaching occurs," says Parfilko, a mechanical engineering major from East Brunswick, N.J. "It is very important to adhere to the resolution that ultimately, CUE is about people just like ourselves, walking in on a whim and being inspired to collaborate and contribute."

Both Gottlieb, a mechanical engineering major from Bethesda, Md., and Pritts, an industrial design student from Syracuse, N.Y., agree that in planning the space, it had the potential to be more than a classroom environment.

"We really tried to form the space around the students and their needs rather than the teacher and the hierarchy of the typical classroom," says Pritts.

And as Gottlieb explains, the space would also encourage members of the Rochester community to come in and seek help with their own entrepreneurial endeavors.

"CUE has the potential to be a real, active community hub for the entrepreneurs of Rochester."

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