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The Asheville DesignBuild Studio, a program of the Asheville Design Center, is a multi-disciplinary, hands-on, educational experience. Participants will have the opportunity to affect a lasting and positive impact on Asheville’s vibrant and diverse communities. Individuals will come together as a team, draw upon their wide range of design and technical disciplines to gather community input, define a project type, design and develop the concept, and build their design. The DesignBuild Studio addresses issues of social justice, community sustainability and good design, not simply by watching, but by doing.


About the Instructors



Luke W. Perry, Designer+Builder // Just. Design. Build.

Luke has pursued his passion and love of the built environment through creative collaborations, exploring how the simultaneous act of designing + building can increase the capacities of vulnerable places and people to better solve their own problems.

Luke’s professional background has focused on the relationship between architecture, substandard housing, and community engagement. More specifically Luke has worked in addressing homelessness through public advocacy as well as shelter/transitional housing design, working at the National Coalition for the Homeless and Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless. He has worked construction building affordable housing in Washington, DC and researched low-cost housing options around the world as a UC Berkeley Branner Fellow.

Luke’s background in construction and design has allowed him to pursue numerous design-build projects. In 2003, he designed and built a private residence near Boone, NC. In 2006, he led a team to design and build 40 new sleeping compartments for Atlanta’s largest homeless shelter. In 2009, he helped design and build a new bench for a garden in Berkeley, California. In 2010, he designed and built numerous structures for the Pie Lab in Greensboro, AL. Finally, since living in Asheville, Luke has led a number of innovative projects such as the Mystic Dreams Pavilion, the Evergreen Community Charter School Outdoor Classroom, and Randolph Learning School Garden Shed.

He received undergraduate degrees in both Architecture and Industrial Design from NC State University in 2000 and received his Masters of Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley in 2009. During his time at Berkeley, he taught two undergraduate studios under mentorship of Randy Hester and Keith Plymale. Luke is an Adjunct Professor at Appalachian State University and AB Tech Community College, teaching classes in design, drawing, visual literacy, computer modeling (Revit), blue print reading and construction. He also runs a small design-build practice called Just. Design. Build. and currently serves as Board Co-Chair of Green Opportunities, a local non-profit dedicated to empowering youth with barriers to employment.

As a native of the North Carolina mountains, Luke cherishes the natural beauty and opportunities the southern Appalachians provide. He is a passionate soccer fan and plays a mean game of table tennis.

Miriam gee Headshot Fermata


Miriam Gee, AIA, LEED AP BD+C // Architect + Designer
Miriam Gee is a licensed architect, aspiring builder, design/build instructor, and green building consultant. For Miriam, there is no greater satisfaction than building your design with your own two hands.

After spending more than six years of traditional employment with award-winning architecture firms in the Pacific Northwest and Hawai’i, Miriam has adapted her career to focus on education through design/build. In 2010, Miriam co-founded Build Lightly Studio, realizing her dream of teaching the next generation of collaborative thinkers through design/build. The result: a hybrid designer/builder/instructor role that extends beyond the years of licensed design work to the actual project construction; that is: the hammer swinging, the power tool-wielding, the early morning team meetings fueled by adrenaline (and, more often than not, too much coffee).

Today, Miriam has tailored this concept into a formal profession that combines continued experience as a freelance designer and green building consultant with teaching student-led design/build courses and workshops in the U.S. and internationally. In this unique arrangement, teaching informs professional practice, and vice-versa.

Miriam’s definitive architectural career is inspired by students, yet grounded in real-world design challenges. A competent project architect with an interest in environmental design, she excels in collaboration, project management, and community engagement. To date, Miriam’s experience as an educator through Build Lightly Studio includes: Asheville Design Center, Yestermorrow Design/Build School, University of Washington Neighborhood Design/Build Studio, and the Univerity of Hawai’i at Manoa, archawai’i program. She graduated in 2006 from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor of Architecture and a minor in French. She received her architecture license in 2010 in Washinton state and Hawai’i.

You can often find her bike commuting in various locations around the world.


Student Testimonies


“Having that physical result at the end of the summer and celebrating it with members in the community evoked an amazing sense of accomplishment in me that I will definitely cherish in the years to come.”

— Jay Holt, NC State, Architecture

“People with no design background are not limited by previously instilled ideas of what has been done or what the norm is to fix a certain issue. They think outside the box even more than designers do because they do not have these limitations. Community members have new enthusiasm and appreciation that is so encouraging. Everyone has something to contribute and some knowledge that we can all learn from. In short, I learned that design should never be limited to designers.”

— Caitlin Edenfield, VA Tech, Landscape Architecture

“I did not expect to learn so much so quickly — about construction, about how to foster community involvement and trust, about how to design with people from other disciplines as well as collaborating with people who are not in the design or construction disciplines, through exploring numbers of iterations through various hand-drawing strategies and exercises, and learning how to and building models to explore ideas.”

— Devika Elish, NC State, Landscape Architecture