Architectural students have built two wooden structures that found a temporary home in the Technology, Design and Safety (TDS) Center on the second floor.
The two pieces were within 144 square feet wide and at most nine feet high. One piece was a circular library with open shelves where books were stacked. The other project was an office fully set with a desk and shelves in place.
Although many of the students who built the structures wanted them to stay up until next semester, these structures posed as a safety threat.
According to an e-mail from KSC Dean of Professional and Graduate Studies Anne Miller, the structures had to be taken down because of safety reasons. “…given the priority our college places on student safety, we really have no other option than to have the structures removed,” she stated. “Understanding and complying with building codes and the findings of official inspectors is of course an integral part of quality building designs, so I trust that the students will understand why the structures can’t remain in place.”
Miller stated she’s empathetic to the students who put a lot of work into their designs. “I can understand their interest in having them stay up longer, but having these remain in place is just not a part of these kinds of projects,” she stated.
In addition, Miller included an e-mail she had received from KSC Environmental Safety Manager Ralph Stuart from which he stated that the architectural projects had to be taken down by graduation (May 6) because they “increase the fire loading of the building beyond design capacity.”
In addition, he stated, “Based on my review of these projects today, there are no immediate egress issues as a result of the projects on the second floor, but it is important to keep the second floor of the west stairwell open for emergency exit purposes. Along those lines, I noted that there are some wooden objects on the first floor of the west stairwell. These should be removed, as they represent a potential fire load for an important egress part for the building.”
The process started with 17 proposals and then the students voted down to two ultimate designs that became the featured pieces.
This is the first time pieces like this have been constructed, according to Associate Professor of Sustainable Product Design and Architecture Bart Sapeta.
Sapeta said he wanted students to better understand how different it is to implement structures in real life compared to seeing it on a computer screen where anything is possible. “This is a third-year design studio of students who understand how spaces come together,” he said. “For me, it’s really important for students to understand the theory and practice that a small project can achieve.”
Sapeta said he was disappointed to learn they would have to take the structures down, especially for how it would affect his students. “Students didn’t expect to have the emotional attachment to their projects they did,” he said.
He said that there were various reasons for why he and the students wanted the structures to remain intact, one of which included the fact that they can provide examples of what potential students can accomplish. “We are not only teaching theory, but practice as well,” Sapeta said.
In addition, many students felt they had put a lot of effort into the designs and for them to be removed after less than two weeks of being on display, it felt as though all their hard work had been for nothing.
KSC junior Nick Speidel said, “What was the point of all this if they’re just going to take it down?”
KSC junior Rachel Lamica said it was sad to know their work would be destroyed. “We worked on this for a month,” she said. “This is a place for people to look around and sit down to do their homework,” she said.
KSC junior Tyler Ballo said, similarly to his peers, he was sad to hear their construction pieces would have to be taken down. “We had wanted to show it off next semester and have people use it,” he said.
However, Ballo said he was proud of what he had accomplished with his classmates. “We were trying to figure out how it was going to look life size, which was different than we had seen it on a computer,” he said. “But it was a great process.”
KSC junior Tim McGraw said it was an amazing experience. “It’s all about framing your idea and seeing how it works out,” he said. “There’s a sense of accomplishment seeing it fully built. It’s cool to humbly show off what we’ve done.”
McGraw said another element of the process he really enjoyed was meeting with local constructors and architects at an open house the students hosted to show off their projects. He said, “It was awesome to talk about it with professionals when you have a greater understanding of what they’re talking about.”
Dorothy England can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org