COVID-19 is teaching all of us a crucial lesson in adaptability. Pinnacle’s Interior Designer, Mallory Fair, is a Washington State University alumni and continues to give back to the school and profession through participation in the spring Senior WSU Capstone Review. She shares her experience.

Washington State University Capstone (Virtual) Reviews

By Mallory Fair, Interior Designer at Pinnacle Architecture

The Spring senior year WSU capstone review for students at Washington State University is an important project and milestone in students’ time in the program and at school. It is the largest project by far and is to showcase all they have learned while providing them tools to enter the workforce as new designers.

This process is historically centered around working with industry professionals. It culminates in a trip to Seattle to present the projects and their portfolio.

Covid-19 has drastically changed many processes and events for everyone, and it certainly disrupted this year’s WSU capstone projects and review. With instruction changed to online-only over Zoom, the reviews were also moved to a virtual format.

The Assignment – Adaptive Reuse of Historic Buildings into a Public Space

“The Spring 2020 studio examines the potential of public interior spaces to promote health and well-being across the urban ecosystem. The design concept requires the development of a critical construct that integrates perspectives of urban design, biophilia and ecology, phenomenology and affect, and human health and well-being. While the primary focus is on interiority, the concept will also integrate aspects of urban planning, architecture adaptive reuse, and landscape architecture. Two site options were provided to the students: the Tramway Power Company Building (now home to REI) in Denver and Pier 56 (now home to Mithun Architects) in Seattle. Students were encouraged to think into the future and to take creative liberty with the existing buildings.

Students started the term by learning Rhino and developing ‘Elsewheres’ — spaces of an unfamiliar kind. These projects allowed the students to study the relationship between ‘affectual’ senses and spatial qualities. You will see some remnants or ideas from Elsewhere in many the projects; additionally, students will have survey data and VR models.”

The Adapted Review Process

The review took place Thursday, April 30. Everyone was divided into groups of about seven students to three professionals in different Zoom breakout groups. Due to the size of the groups and time constraints, each student was given 6 minutes to present their project (via screen share), followed by 14 minutes of questions and feedback.

The group I reviewed all used the Seattle site on Pier 56.

As far as the projects were concerned, it was interesting to see how everyone took different approaches to address the prompt and utilizing the same building in various ways. One concept used the whole of the building and had mixed-use spaces (gym, café, spa, vendor booths in the vein of a farmers market). Another used a portion of the building. Some people created spaces that were very different from the current building, and others tried to honor the site and bring people closer to the water (everyone in our group used the Seattle location).

One student, who was halfway into the semester when the stay at home orders and distance learning began, decided to rework her original design (redefining loitering as a positive) into how that might now be affected by changes due to Covid-19.

All in all, it was a real positive experience for me. I loved being in my program, and I was glad to be able to help and provide feedback for the students as they look to begin their careers.

I’m grateful that my coworker and architect, Matt Christensen, volunteered to review as well. Having another set of eyes and perspective from the architecture industry and outside of the WSU program was undoubtedly helpful for the students (even if they don’t know it yet!). It also shows the integration of interiors and architecture within a firm like Pinnacle.

Reflection and Inspiration from the WSU Capstone Review

WSU Capstone Project

Mallory’s WSU Capstone Project – creating a flagship store in downtown LA for Frietag
– a brand that creates bags from old truck tarps.

This experience got me thinking back to my senior WSU capstone project and how much fun I had working on it. WSU’s program has a strong emphasis on concepts that aren’t always represented in other programs or even firms. At the onset of a project at Pinnacle, we work with the client to establish their “criteria for success.” Those criteria guide our design process. Reminiscing on my project and seeing the students’ work has inspired me to look at my current projects in new ways. Creative and innovative approaches can I meet a client’s goals and create a special space for them.

Hopefully, next year the students will be able to do their presentations in Seattle, but I would love to help again if needed. And of course, it is encouraging that the industry can be quick and adapt to challenges while still accomplishing goals.

Mallory FairMallory Fair is an interior designer with Pinnacle Architecture. Mallory’s artsy and solution-driven approach to interior design is an ideal fit for Pinnacle’s project teams. Her diverse skill set manifests in creative designs that are grounded in buildability and operational efficiencies. Mallory spent time designing in Seattle and Yakima, Washington before joining Pinnacle. She is a NCIDQ Certified Interior Designer and LEED Associate. Mallory received her Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design, Minor in Construction Management, and Minor in Business Administration from Washington State University. Mallory can be reached at or 541.388.9897.