Beautiful Dreamer

Teske earns national architecture award
Mikaela Koski
Thursday, May 16, 2019
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Photo by Ashley Cope MSU Grad Student
            Haley Teske is a Columbus High School and Montana State University graduate.

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Columbus native Haley Teske has received national recognition for her work creating an innovative architectural design.

Teske, a graduate student at Montana State University, was recently named one of the top-10 award recipients in a student competition held by the American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (AIA COTE) in partnership with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA).

“The competition recognizes 10 exceptional studio projects that integrate creative and innovative design strategies working towards achieving carbon-neutral operations through daylighting, passive heating and cooling systems, sustainable materials, water conservation, energy generation, and other sustainable systems,” according to an ACSA press release.

This year’s program, titled “INNOVATION 2030,” was the fifth annual Top Ten AIA COTE student competition. It “challenged students to submit projects that use a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems, and technology to provide design solutions that protect and enhance the environment.”

Teske competed against approximately 500 participants from across the country, representing schools such as the University of Oregon and Columbia University.

As one of the award recipients, Teske received a $500 stipend to attend the AIA National Convention in Las Vegas at the beginning of June, where her project will be displayed. She also earned the opportunity to take part in a paid summer internship “at an architecture firm doing leading work in sustainable design,” according to the ACSA website.

Teske’s project, “The Happy Land,” features an antiquairum for Torre Annunziata, a city in Italy.


The creation of “The Happy Land” began in one of Teske’s comprehensive studio classes. She explained to the News, “The objective was to embody our entire education up to that point, with an emphasis on holistic concept thinking and building systems.”

Teske, along with her fellow classmates, was given the prompt to create an antiquarium for Torre Annunziata by a professor who had been involved with the Oplontis Project. The students were given the same research, but created their own unique design concepts in locations of their choosing around the city.

The Oplontis Project deals with the Villa Oplontis, a villia that was covered during the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius along with Pompeii and Herculaneum. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Villa Oplontis was discovered by the Italian Ministry of Culture in 1964, and according to Teske, is unique because “it is one of the few in the vast network of buried remains that was not raided during the Bourbon era for its treasures.”

Presently, Villa Oplontis does not receive the amount of tourism Pompeii does (50,000 visitors compared to 2 million visitors), although the sites are only three miles apart. The artifacts uncovered in Villa Oplontis are important to the area’s heritage, but are currently stored out of the public eye in poor conditions due to a lack of funding.

“An antiquarium (similar to a museum, although technically it means ‘artifacts in situe’) would provide this much needed resource to the found objects,” Teske explained.

“The Happy Land” incorporates an antiquarium into the train station at Torre Annunziata. Teske chose the train station because it was a place she personally experienced during a study abroad trip to Italy. It is an area that interacts with almost 2 million tourists, as well as with the local commuters in the area.

“The idea of layering the social issues of unemployment and lack of amenities that inundates the town with the functional issues of the existing train station presented an immense amount of opportunities, and I jumped at the chance to try something unique,” Teske said. She added that she had no idea others would also believe in her concept.

“The Happy Land” design not only updated the current train station, but also intentionally addressed several issues Teske noticed during her experience in Torre Annunziata.

She included a raised podium and exterior platforms so “visitors and locals alike can enjoy what this gorgeous area has to offer, while also directing circulation.” Teske made this adjustment because during her time at the station, she was not even aware she had gone through the Torre Annunziata area because the tracks are situated in the middle of taller, new commercial areas that “block the view to the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius (the primary landmarks that orient anyone in this urban region).”

Also included in the design is “a unique sun shading structure that stretches across the entire design” so “people can enjoy various types of shade and movement” and take advantage of the area’s nice weather.

As for the artifacts, Teske situated them above the train tracks to ensure “moments that condense become actual buildings” that contain the artifacts to be viewed by the largest number of people possible. She took into account the intense tourist waves currently wreaking havoc on Pompeii by spreading out the artifact design.

Teske described how unfortunately many people think of southern Italy “as a dirty tourist trap,” and forget the rich history the area has to offer. She explained, “My heart swells every time I think of it (southern Italy), and my only hope was this design idea could help others see at least how lucky they were to experience this.”


A 2014 Columbus High School grad, Teske was drawn to architecture after job shadowing with A&E Architects in Billings with the help of Mina Morse, a Columbus resident who works for the company.

“It was important that I embrace a career that reflected the lifestyle I craved, all built on the environment my family and community had granted me,” Teske said. “Meanwhile, my relentless curiosity and perfectionism has always driven me to love education, and I couldn’t settle on one singular field that branched from a particular passion.”

For Teske, architectural design satisfies all of her curiosities and passions.

“Design offers it all – you are always in a million roles at once. Your brain switches from fire ratings to phenomenological theory and then to passive shading devices in snowy climates,” she described. “Architecture is constantly re-evaluating how everything connects and works, all with the good of humanity in mind.”

In the summer of 2017, she and some fellow MSU architecture students and faculty members participated in a study abroad experience in Europe. After traveling through Denmark, Germany, and Austria, the group made Campo de’ Fiori in Rome its home base as the students worked on a studio project, imagining a self-sustaining Rome. In addition to the architectural studio work, Teske was able to enjoy the history, food, and people of the area on weekend trips.

The undergraduate study abroad experience has played a crucial role in how Teske views the world through architecture, and travel has become one of her many passions.

“This exposure certainly played into my ability to understand the perspective of others further, and I’m not sure I could have seen through the stereotype of southern Italy if I had not experienced that all places across the globe offer their own version of the world. Who am I to say who that looks like?” she noted. “No, my job as a designer is to listen and understand. Traveling enables that further.”

Currently, Teske is in Portland, Ore., for a summer internship with Hennebery Eddy. In the fall, she will return to Bozeman for her final semester of classes; Teske will graduate in December. This fall she also plans to take in “every moment I can possibly get with my family and our beautiful state” because, although the thought of it pains her, Teske does not think she will stay in Montana permanently following graduation.

Once she graduates with her master’s degree, Teske has a three-pronged plan in mind for the future:

1. Travel

2. Work toward her architecture license

3. Get a dog