A newspaper for ECU faculty and staff
Pieces of Eight

Students from ECU’s interior design program present their schematic design proposals for Lake Mattamuskeet’s Environmental Learning Center Oct. 8. (Photo by Erica Plouffe Lazure)

Students Share Vision of Mattamuskeet Renovation

By Erica Plouffe Lazure

The vision of interior design students from East Carolina University for Lake Mattamuskeet could become part of the long-term plan to renovate the wildlife refuge’s historic pump house into an environmental learning center.

All semester long, the students worked in teams to create four scenarios that incorporated principles of conservation, education, and historical preservation for the site of the state’s largest lake and seasonal home for migratory birds. They presented their schematic designs for the learning center to state recreation and preservation officials at the Greenville Hilton Oct. 8.

“Having a balance between nature and design and historic preservation is important,” said Jackie Slevinsky, one of 18 senior interior design students.

Hunt McKinnon, professor of interior design in ECU’s College of Human Ecology, said that the aim of the program’s capstone course is for students to learn how to move beyond academic concepts and to work with actual clients to address and solve real problems. In previous years, students in the course have designed spaces for Bath High School, the Estuarium, and various locations on the ECU campus.

“Our job is to train the students to replicate actual practice,” he said. “Too often student work goes in a closet and they never see it again.”

The Oct. 8 presentation was delivered to Gordon Myers, deputy director of N.C. Wildlife, and Reid Thomas, a preservation specialist from the N.C. Historic Preservation Office, as well as marine biologist Roger Rulifson from ECU, and Mack Simpson, formerly of ECU’s Regional Development Services.

In addition to providing an educational resource areas designed to inform the public about the history of Lake Mattamuskeet, the students had ideas to create overnight facilities for Boy Scouts and other groups, to integrate solar and wind power technology, to offer elevated bookshelves on wheels in the event of flooding, the use of “gray water” technology for the septic system.

“We hope all these things combined can create an experience for visitors that they won’t find anywhere else,” ECU student Meghan Anders said. McKinnon said that the students will return to their groups and continue to tailor their schematic designs for future presentations and meetings with the residents and constituent groups in Hyde County, where Lake Mattamuskeet is located.

This page originally appeared in the October 26, 2007 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at