Extracurricular Design/Build + Professional Partnerships

Presented by: Jonathon Anderson

Integration of design/build as a pedagogical tool has existed for decades. However, a recent reemergence of its application is largely due to the value of integrating physical exploration and fabrication. Design/build facilitates experience-based applied creative thinking that extends beyond the capabilities of computer-aided design and traditional 2-D visualization techniques. Furthering this concept is a framework that couples design/build pedagogy with extracurricular activities to create a hybrid experience that balances theory and practice in interior design education. The objective of this paper is to examine the current discourse of how design/build can be explored through full-scale installations and to present a design/build model that utilizes professional partnerships to fund extracurricular projects. The primary case study is a recently completed installation that partnered with several Zones. Zones are on-campus incubators that support experiential learning and entrepreneurship through extracurricular activities in various topic areas (e.g. Design Fabrication Zone, Digital Media Zone). This paper will present the project origins, roles of the faculty advisor, student, and partner, and a critical examination of the overall design and its current state. The intent of the design/build and professional partnership charged students with designing and fabricating an installation that had the ability to showcase the nine Zones on campus while providing a place for students to lounge. Eight students developed two schematic designs and presented to an external jury composed of industry professionals and clients. Ultimately, the client selected one scheme to be prototyped, built and installed in predominant space on campus. The chosen design draws from the conceptual grounding which Snohetta intended for the building where the installation would be housed. The design consists of topographical elements that play off pre-existing features and uses raised plinths to provide a place for work, exhibition and social collaboration. Ten weeks during the summer were spent on design development and fabrication of the final installation. A series of hands-on workshops helped students implement craft techniques for plywood applications, development of structural and durable designs, jig making, and incorporating CNC technology into the design/build workflow. Throughout the process, students were tasked with conducting precedent studies to understand principles of form and function related to furniture/installation design, technical analysis of material applications and constraints, a full set of construction documents, material take-offs, detailed budgets, schedules, and fabrication processes that advance ideas through making. This design/build project served as a platform for dialogue between students and industry professionals while exposing students to various making processes, scheduling, budgets, and design. The presented case study will detail how this project required students to apply theory to methods of construction and to realize the potential use of analog and digital fabrication techniques in the application of both installations and interiors.