2020 Semester Design/Build - Week 1 at Pavilion

August 31, 2020
By Eva Hogue, Semester Program Teaching Assistant



Today was smooth - transitioning from breakfast at YM, with help from students to move everything over to Couple’s Field in Waitsfield. We started with listing out goals & 2 truths and a lie as a way to break the ice and get to know each other a little more. 

  • Graham - goal to initiate his own builds
  • Jess - to become more comfortable with woodworking & carving
  • Callie (she/her they/them) - To feel more comfortable on a jobsite
  • Robbie (he/him) - To see a project from start to finish
  • Aidan (he/him) - Wants to build his own house someday, to learn building blocks for learning fundamentals of steps in the process
  • Tryg - To be more comfortable building a structure vs. smaller projects; ha a goal of building a tiny house someday
  • Ella (she/her) - to gain hands on experience with building, as traditional educational environments do not offer it 
  • Annalisa - Wants to build a tree house in the future, learning building fundamentals
  • Heather (she/her) - Wants to eventually finish some building projects with her dad & live off grid - feel competent in building
  • Morgan (she/her) - Wants to gain experience in building and feel capable around construction
  • Norberto (he/him) - Would love to make new connections and memories
  • Quinn - Wants to see a project completed from start to finish

Students went and explored the field with their sketchbooks - at first there was some hesitation around such a vague assignment, but folks seemed to become more comfortable. After lunch we dove into our first project, analyzing a food item and seeing it as a “container” - learning plan, elevations, and sections through a fruit. There was definitely some confusion and frustration, but it was incredible to see how quickly everyone caught on and was open to asking questions. Looking forward to seeing how the projects turn out!

Tuesday: Tour of Prickly Mountain

Today we toured 3 homes on Prickly Mountain designed by Dave Sellers - The Archie Bunker, The Home Run House, & The Buzz Hut (under construction), as well as the Waitsfield Ten, a house now owned by Mac Rood, & previously designed by a series of Yestermorrow classes over the course of many years. The three Sellers homes were experiments with concrete, the first two with sliding walls full of windows. The Archie Bunker had a pool attached to the back, open to the living room via the sliding wall of windows. In my opinion, the pool wouldn’t have been as alluring without the large concrete columns, bringing the user to feel like they’re experiencing a concrete version of large, marble, Greek pillars or something of the sort. Seeing the student’s faces and hearing their expressions of amazement and bewilderment was my favorite part of the tour. You could see their minds being opened to the possibilities of building and design, everyone thinking of how they could incorporate some funky aspects into their future designs. I’m curious to speak to more folks who were a part of the original design/build movement in Vermont, to see how they have grown with or without these buildings. Do they feel as accessible as age and time moves forward? Do they still find them fascinating and a part of themselves? Or were many of these homes an experiment that thrived for its time?

Three words of wisdom from Mac to remember: firmness, commodity, delight! 


Presentations of the “container” & two words to go along with the experience of building the container.

  • Annalisa - Broccoli: tree house
  • Quinn - Pineapple: lattice, gradient of order, weave
  • Norberto - Shallot: creasing, over-complicated
  • Ella - Dragon Fruit
  • Morgan - Ginger: leading lines, outward growth
  • Graham - Banana Flower: complete, mathematical
  • Robbie - Leek: … mostly in order
  • Tryg - Pan Squash: compartmentalized fanning, asymmetrical
  • Callie - Corn
  • Jess - Garlic: asymmetry, tripod, multifaceted
  • Aidan - Artichoke: analysis/reduction, release/replication, simplify/metamorphosis
  • Heather - Bell Pepper: symmetry

Also, we started our chicken coop design! Here we started as a group, defining the aspects of a chicken coop that we’re designing for our clients - the 6 chickens and Jen, our human client. What is a roost vs. a nesting area vs. a run? Once we established definitions groups of two came up with designs, followed by groups of 4, and then 6. This was the first time where students started to truly work together as a team, finding out how to be a part of a group of people who could come up with designs & accept feedback from their peers and instructors. The images here show successions of drawings until we landed at our final 2. The goal of this project is to begin working together, to understand design charrettes and group decision making, and to learn the basics of using tools and construction. 


Friday morning we had the chance to each present a house that we loved, or possibly found as a house with ways to learn from. This assignment, the “Precedent Analysis”, gave everyone the opportunity to analyze a house - from it’s site, composition, historical background, and general feeling. After the presentations we delved back into the final 2 chicken coop designs, which we will begin next week. It was fun to see that both groups came up with very similar designs based off of our charrette rounds. The major difference between the two were the roof designs, one with two shed roofs, the other with a more continuous roof line. We had to end early in order to meet with our clients for our Semester Project, Phoebe and Scott. Here, the class had the opportunity to introduce themselves and ask any outstanding questions about the project. Our project for the program will be to design and build a studio apartment and a workshop for the clients, who are also building their primary residence on the property, but with a different building group - “Vermod”.