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Scaling Up!

IMG_5744It’s been a big week for deliveries!

Scott from Sunbrella donated a massive roll of 10′ Poly-Tex fabric, bright red trimming material, and D-rings that will cover the awning. In the words of one our students, “He really hooked us up!”

We also got our delivery from BENCO Steel: 160′ of steel, or about twice as much steel as our whole team lined up head-to-foot.


Yesterday, Tim Callahan of Alembic Studio came by the A-B Tech woodshop to consult with students about their design. The discussion largely focused on the placement of the jack system, which will allow performers to level the stage when the trailer is parked on an uneven surface.


The students had a chance to show Tim their to-scale model of the plank which will lower over the wheel well. Their design allows a heavy metal plank to be easily and safely lowered or raised by one person.


Workplace safety is our #1 priority

With the half-inch scale model complete, students set to work constructing a new one-inch scale model.

While some students sourced and priced materials, others discussed the finer points of welding galvanized steel with instructor Luke Perry (for the curious, it apparently involves quite a bit of sanding).




We are at the halfway point of the 2015 AVL DesignBuild project!  Week 4 consisted of meeting at the AB Tech Woodshop for the first half of the week and the CCCD studio the second half.

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Monday was the last day we had the privilege of having Steve Badanes mentor us in our design process.  Our Makerspace Task Force met with Mike from CCCD to discuss the results from the design charrette that the team put together back in Week 2.

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The studio worked on finalizing the design of the ULEAF stage and nesting boxes and determining how much/which materials to order for the construction of the stage.  After coming to a consensus on the design of the stage platform, Michelle Felicetti (of Medlock and Associates Engineering) created various configurations of the stage to help us determine what materials would be the lightest.  With this information, we were able to order materials by the end of the week and we will be able to begin construction very soon!  Mock ups of the nesting boxes were constructed and a team of our Clemson students will use Clemson’s CNC machine to construct the nesting boxes for the real thing.


The DesignBuild team consulting with Scott from SunBrella

Designing the canopy of the ULEAF is still in the process of being finalized.  With the feedback from our presentation to LEAF, we have changed the orientation of the stage to be viewed from the sides of the trailer instead of opposite the trailer hitch, so the stage can be better utilized in small spaces.  We also met with Scott from SunBrella and learned more about canopy fabric options for the stage.  Previously, the ULEAF canopy consisted of one C structure attached on the back of the stage.  Now, the ULEAF canopy is an arch that spans the length of the stage.  The team has come up with various configurations and is trying to determine what will make the canopy a welcoming and unifying factor for the ULEAF.

Thursday, after a morning of hard work, the team took a half day break at the lake near Hard Times Trailhead.  We enjoyed time out of the studio, hanging out on the beach and leisure hikes.


Guest critics: Lule and Tim Callahan from Alembic Studios and Kate Ancaya from Living Roofs visit the CCCD

Friday, the studio divided into teams to put together an informal presentation for Lule and Tim Callahan from Alembic Studios and Kate Ancaya from Living Roofs.  One team prepared a scale model of a potential canopy design and another team created drawings and constructed a mockup of the various working systems of the stage.  Our guests provided feedback and suggestions for the construction details and aesthetics for the ULEAF stage to make it both safe and welcoming to audience members and ULEAF users.

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Community Feedback at Art in the Park


DesignBuild instructor Miriam Gee tries on a mask cut out from the event poster

This week’s communications team visited Art in the Park, presented by LEAF Community Arts and the Easel Rider, DJ M.P. Pride, and Studio Zahiya at the iconic Prichard Park in downtown Asheville.

DesignBuild students Allison and Ashley presented their plans to LEAF organizers to find out what makes a good stage. People were especially excited about the boxes, which can serve as a secondary mini-stage, steps, or seating. The students got a chance to see the type of dance that might take place on the ULEAF stage, interact with LEAF staff and volunteers, and take in some of the local Asheville culture.

Lisa Zahiya’s classes performed several choreographed dances for a crowd of 50+ onlookers of all ages. Later, she invited the audience to join in on a beginner-friendly, heart-pumping dance workout. Instructor Miriam Gee literally ran down the steps to join in!


DJ M.P. Pride and Studio Zahiya staff

ArtinthePark1Originally, we had planned for the Easel Rider, seen above, to tow the ULEAF stage, but as the plans developed, we realized that the stage would weigh too much for this to be a realistic goal. However, the ULEAF will be towable by any regular-sized truck.


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Design-A-Rama: The U-LEAF takes shape in week 3


Week 3 of Project U-LEAF has ended and the team has made significant progress.  The team’s energy in the first half of the week was primarily focused on generating, refining, and presenting designs to our amazing client, LEAF Schools and Streets.  The presentation was held Monday morning at the LEAF Schools and Streets’ office in east Asheville.  The team’s different task forces fielded questions and received invaluable feedback from the board and attendees.

Leading up to the Wednesday event, every member of the design team worked feverishly to generate the ideas and material needed to make the presentation a success.

The Site Team spent hours visiting and creating diagrams of the locations that the U-LEAF will be deployed and the digital design team generated renderings and working drawings of our designs to-date.   The Kit-of-Parts team seemed to have created one of the biggest hits of our client presentation with their multi-purpose boxes.

One of many sites diagramsUnfolding LEAF stage

After Wednesday’s presentation, all available members of the DesignBuild team headed down to the River Arts District to visit past ADC DesignBuild projects and tour the Old Wood Co. workshop.  This was a great opportunity to reflect on all the hard work of the past weeks and a chance to consider how this year’s project can impact the Asheville community.

Thursday the team was back in action at AB Tech’s shop building full-scale mock ups of key parts of the design presented to the LEAF board and implementing ideas generated during Wednesday’s presentation.  We also welcomed the guru of design/build, Steve Badanes, who graciously took the time to visit us.  The team had its first visit from Ed Medlock and Michelle Felicetti of Medlock and Associates Engineering.  Ed and Michelle’s engineering services play a vital role in the success of DesignBuild projects.  The guys, Doug and Brian, from the Clemson University Digital Design Shop also stopped in to continue to help and encourage us in working toward utilizing their cutting edge technology for the U-LEAF.  We would like to thank everyone that has and continues to help us along in this endeavor.

We also had some amazing opportunities to reach out to other Asheville community groups.  A contingent of DesignBuild students set out Thursday to visit with Green Opportunities folks at the Arthur Edington Center and see the wonderful work they do for Asheville.  On Friday another group met with folks from the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville (HACA) at the Edington Center to learn more about how the U-LEAF and design can impact the Asheville community.


On behalf of Ashley Davis and Chad Ekre, thank you to the entire team and all who support us.

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Steve Badanes Speaks at Pack Library

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The Football House

This Thursday, architect and pioneer of the national Design / Build movement Steve Badanes delivered a free public lecture at Lord Auditorium in the Pack Memorial Library. The event was hosted by AIA Asheville and the Asheville Design Center.

Steve Badanes co-founded Jersey Devil, an architectural firm “committed to the interdependence of building and design.” Badanes holds the Howard S. Wright endowed chair at the University of Washington, where he teaches architecture in the College of Built Environments and directs the Neighborhood Design Build Studio. Badanes also teaches at the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont every summer.  He has lectured about his 40+ years of experience with humor and humility in 46 states and 10 countries.

Steve Badanes spoke about Jersey Devil’s early years, when he lived on the project site, sometimes for years at a time. The projects focused on the use of local materials, energy conservation, simple geometry, and letting the site determine the form. For example, the Hill House overlooking the San Francisco bay faced winds over 100 mph, so the architects followed the hill’s contours to guide the wind around the site and create a wind-free courtyard. Badanes described the house as “a very simple plan, almost like a curved ranch house.”

When his truck and trailer caught on fire, he “decided it might be time to get a job,” so Badanes started his teaching career. His Design / Build programs expose students to community-driven design and give them an opportunity to follow their designs through the phases of engineering, working around permits, construction, and sourcing local, socially-conscious materials.

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The Hill House

Badanes’s best-known piece is the Fremont Troll, which was chosen by public vote by whopping margin of 6:1. The troll lives under the end of Aurora Avenue in Seattle, WA. The Fremont Troll is a cultural icon and inspiration for Trolloween, an annual block party that takes place on October 31. It’s even, to the shock of its designer, a wedding destination.

Badanes has published several books, including Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism and Devil’s Workshop: 25 Years of Jersey Devil Architecture. To learn more about Steve Badanes’s work, visit the Jersey Devil Website

Special thanks to AIA Asheville and of course, Steve Badanes.

Photos courtesy of the Jersey Devil website


Makerspace Design Charrette


In a whirlwind two-hour charrette at the CCCD, DesignBuild students spark discussion about the future basement-level Makerspace. The purpose of the charrette was to gather and interpret feedback for the makerspace from local and regional stakeholders. Among the participants were academics, artisans, architects, students, community organizers, activists, and CCCD staff.


The CCCD plants to open The Hive’s “soft work” creative space after adaptive reuse construction on the building’s second floor next summer. The Hive will attract visitors from all over the country for conferences, learning, and creative enterprise. The basement makerspace could be open as soon as 2017.


After a brief welcoming address from Stephanie Moore (CCCD executive director) and Chris Joyell (Asheville Design Center executive director), Mike Marcus explained why the CCCD is interested in opening this innovative new Makerspace. The Makerspace, he explained, is not just about public art. As a hands-on lab, the Makerspace will demonstrate the power of art to fuel healthy economic development by, for example, building relationships with local manufacturing centers.

DesignBuild Studio students delivered a 5 minute case study presentation of similar spaces, such as those at the Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville, MA and Haystack in Deer Isle, ME. Following the presentations, participants toured the basement space and broke out into groups led by AVL DesignBuild Students.

Breakout group discussions largely focused on who the space will be serving.

  • What disciplines will the space attract?
  • How will incompatible activities be separated? (For example, carpentry might create dust that would be damaging to photography.)
  • Who is currently underserved in the community? Should the space attract students who don’t have their own equipment yet? People entering a second career?
  • What possibilities for collaborative and personal space exist?
  • How should the space be promoted or made visible?
  • Should the focus be local, regional, or national?
  • How can the makerspace foster interconnectivity with the gallery and second floor?
  • What is the makerspace’s niche? How can the space fill a void in the Asheville creative community and avoid competing with the established spaces already here?
  • How flexible should the makerspace be, keeping in mind that flexibility usually demands storage space?
  • How can the space be flexible in time as well as space?
  • How should non-makers be invited to the space?
  • How can the space respect Asheville craft identity while incorporating the digital?
  • How can acoustics be developed to respect individual needs?
  • How will the makerspace create opportunities?


The students synthesized ideas from these discussions in posters displayed in the mezzanine during lunch. Participants were encouraged to write down any additional thoughts on sticky notes and affix them to the posters or windows. Each person was give five stickers to “vote” for the their favorite ideas, concepts, or vision statements. You can see some of the favorites here!


Special thanks to Clemson University’s Doug Hecker, the CCCD’s Stephanie Moore and Mike Marcus, and project architect Brandon Pass.

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The Big Move

IMG_2589This week DesignBuild students focused their efforts on establishing the “big move” of the U-LEAF mobile stage design that can be presented to the LEAF clients. Students were divided into groups and given the task of creating prototypes for an Asheville Design Center mobile teaching kiosk, a sandwich board for the CCCD building, or an exploration piece that could be applied to the U-LEAF, based on case studies of unfolding mechanisms and modular components.

With one sheet of 4’x8′ plywood, an 8′ 2×4, and little over a day to complete the project, the DesignBuild students developed manageable, yet creative, designs. Many of the students hoped that throughout the studio their skills in the woodshop would improve, and through this project, and the extensive facilities at AB-Tech, students expanded their knowledge of woodworking tools and got a hands-on lesson in building a design that they created themselves.IMG_2594

Special thanks to Heath Moody (AB-Tech), Darren Green (Old Wood Co.), and Michael Sorin (Legerton Architecture) to joining the students in the woodshop to provide feedback on the final products.

Using what they discovered in the woodshop, and the input provided by the guest critics, students could use their exploration of unfolding and modular components to further develop the design of the U-LEAF stage in studio. The students are continuing to investigate how to incorporate the concept of an unfolding leaf into a workable stage design.

This post was written by forewomen of the week Christina Booher and Caitlin Fogarty


Sandwich board constructed by DesignBuild students for the CCCD building

edit: the original post misidentified one of the mentors as Keith Hargrove instead of Mitchel Sorin.