Shop Programming Meeting: Student Involvement, October 15, 2015

The sixth and final meeting in the Phase 1a Shop Building Programming Meeting series, held on October 15, 2015, focused on student involvement. Facilitated by Rob Bast and Mac Rood of Bast & Rood Architects, this meeting was attended by staff, faculty, interns and friends of Yestermorrow. The notes and discussion below were captured by Rob Bast.

This was an important meeting, with tremendous interest among the group in involving students in the construction of the shop. It was clear that folks had put a great deal of creativity into how this goal could be achieved; a fully successful building would engage students, a lesser building would be designed and built by the design/build team and handed over to the school. Involvement and education need not stop at the act of construction, but can also be captured through tours, videos, and permanent signage describing the building in place, and information on the internet.

Four levels of student involvement in the building were conceptualized:

  1. A class organized around the actual construction of a building.
  2. A (shorter) class organized around the building of a basic building such as sheds, or add-ons to a bigger building, such as a lean-to or room.
  3. Opportunities to build parts or discreet items, such as doors, shelves, or trim.
  4. Little or no direct student involvement, but recorded on video so that the process and execution can be drawn on repeatedly for teaching.

Issues related to organizing a class around the construction of the building include aligning the construction timeline with the pre-set course schedules and class lengths, and course goals and learning objectives. While the construction of the building would not be appropriate for the semester program since it will have been designed ahead of time, its construction could be suitable for a special timberframing class or a sequence of classes.

The concept of designing a special timberframing class or a sequence of classes to suit the construction of the shop would require a discussion with the timber frame instructors to determine how realistic this could be. Some considerations are:

  • designing the spans to handle needed space; strength of wood available or needed to be purchased.
  • addressing the forest management plan to determine quantities available on site. Hemlock, pine, and spruce grow on site.
  • could it be divided into “bite-size” pieces, and amenable to a “barn raising”.
  • pieces could be carved out of building contract as identified.

The discussion continued across a wide range of topics related to student involvement. The comments are included below:

  • It is important to iron out the clarity of student vs. contractor responsibility prior to the execution of the construction contract.
  • There is potentially great value in students seeing what students can do; therefore, the more student involvement, the better.
  • Educational videos and lectures could be filmed at key points in the construction timeline, enabling the building construction as an educational process. A time lapsed video of the entire process could present the construction in a condensed format, e.g. 3 minutes on air barrier, 3 min on foundation.
  • Regularly scheduled tours could be held during construction for students and instructors. Agendas would need to be created in advance. Tours could also be used to draw visitors to campus, or could be focused to various professional groups and business meetings such as VGBN (Vermont Green Building Network), AIAVT (American Institute of Architects Vermont), and NESEA (Northeast Sustainable Energy Association).
  • “Truth windows” built into the walls or other features of the structure would allow for an insider’s view into the design, construction, and material ingredients of the building.

These notes conclude final programming meeting for the Phase 1a Shop Project at Yestermorrow.

Join us for a design charrette in early 2016! Stay tuned for the date.