Community Engagement at the DesignBuild Open House


At our open house event on Friday night, DesignBuild students introduced themselves to the public and showcased their initial round of design proposals. This was the first opportunity for the students to engage with the public and receive feedback on their designs. Visitors were encouraged to discuss the designs with students, comment with sticky notes, and draw their own proposals on whiteboards.

The design proposals included photographs of other similar projects, hand drawings, computer-generated images, and cardboard models. The most popular designs were based on trailer beds, colorful, and easy to maneuver.


Student David Koontz takes turns at the drawing board to explain a design

While many of the visitors are old friends of the Asheville Design Center, our handcrafted sandwich board (and promises of free wine and cheese plates!) managed to snag a few passersby. We were lucky to have our event scheduled during June’s First Friday Art Walk, which features more than 23 galleries, studios and museums within an easy-to-walk half-mile radius of downtown Asheville. For more information, visit the Downtown Asheville Art District.

We shared many visitors with the reception for Ex.Change: My Time for Your Time by ceramic artist Michael Strand, whose current installation “investigates the potential of craft as a catalyst for social change.” Sounds like our kind of art! You can read more about the exhibit here, here, and here. Did I mention free limited-edition handcrafted cups?  The exhibit runs through June 27.


Community members critique the initial round of design proposals

As always, we’d like to thank the hardworking people behind LEAF Schools and Streets for partnering with us this year, and the Center for Craft Creativity and Design for letting us use their beautiful mezzanine overlooking historic downtown Asheville. We think that the setting inspired some of our visitors!

Do you have any suggestions for the ULEAF project? Leave a comment!

Want to help this year? Check out our “How you can help” post.


Mock Up Day


“Why do we make mockups?” This is a question that I ask myself every time I’m involved with a large or full-scale mockup. After the mockup is finished, however, I remember what great a tool a full-scale model can be. Even if the full-scale model is just a small piece of the design, it gives our team a chance to sit and discuss the detailing of the piece and make some choices on materials or connections that would normally be brushed aside and done standard. It also gives us the chance to practice the phasing of the project and figure out the quickest, safest and easiest way to assemble the project.

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Chances are that we will not officially have a permit to build this project until late July and will have to fabricate most of the structure offsite at AB Tech. Even if the structural engineer, Edward Medlock of Medlock & Associates Engineering, P.A. (, who has graciously volunteered his time and services, were to sign off on the drawings today, they couldn’t go in for permit approval until Monday because the permit office isn’t open on Friday. Once the permits are in there is a 14-21 day turn-around time for approval. This is going to be a huge consideration when it comes to the deployment of this project. When the team in only here for 5 weeks of construction and we aren’t allowed to build onsite for the first 3 weeks of the construction phase, we need to have everything ready to go the second we get approval.

Lastly, here are a few drawings of the design as of today, Friday, June 27.