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Cabin Project Nonprofit / Shadow Hills Riding Club Design / Architecture + Civic Engagement Center Woodbury University, School of Architecture An on-going series of case studies that feature projects by AIA members participating in The 1% who are making pro bono service an integral part of design practice.

PRO BONO CASE STUDY / Nº4

DIALOGUE NONPROFIT / DESIGN

© PUBLIC ARCHITECTURE MARCH 2014


An on-going serie of case studies to make pro bono service an integral part of design practice

PRO BONO CASE STUDY Nยบ4


An on-going series of case studies to make pro bono service an integral part of design practice

Project Cabin Project Location Shadow Hills, California Date 2011-2013 Client Shadow Hills Riding Club Client liaison Andrew Mikiel; Johnny Higginson; Susan Kelejian Design Architecture + Civic Engagement (ACE) Center, Woodbury University School of Architecture Design team Jeanine Centuori, AIA; Sonny Ward, AIA; Woodbury School of Architecture participating students Project collaborators June Street Architecture; L.A. Works; Volunteer Los Angeles Area Cabins: 1,000 sq. ft. Deck: 4,500 sq. ft. Cost $85,000 Design hours Professional: 381 Student: 12,600 (additional 12,600 construction hours) Teaching: 2,700 Donations Backyard Buildings and More; Home Depot; Industrial Metal Supply; Maxine Frankel Award Program; Woodbury University; June Street Architecture More info www.architecture.woodbury.edu www.shadowhillsridingclub.org

PRO BONO CASE STUDY / Nº4

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Woodbury University’s ACE Center was created with the aim of training students to create structures in a socially mindful and productive way. This is done by connecting the students with outside projects involving nonprofit organizations, innovative design principles, experimental materials, and grassroots urban tactics. The current incarnation of the ACE Center was born around three years ago when our dean, Norman Millar, and some of our colleagues at the university wanted to embrace the notion of civic engagement. It was then that Sonny Ward came on board. We decided to collaborate on a studio together. Shortly thereafter, we came upon the project site at Shadow Hills Riding Club, a nonprofit organization offering equine therapy programming. Andrew Mikiel came to Woodbury looking for the university to help design their facilities.

Prior to my work with Woodbury University’s ACE Center, I had come to the conclusion that partnering with local organizations and institutions would help Shadow Hills Riding Club grow. Woodbury is located only a few miles away. So it was a natural choice. I got in contact with the president’s secretary, who put me in touch with Jeanine Centuori. That’s how the partnership began.

Jeanine Centuori, AIA, Undergraduate Chair, Architecture; Director ACE Center, Professor Sonny Ward, AIA, Adjunct Faculty; Principal, June Street Architecture, Inc.

Andrew Mikiel, former Executive Director

Shadow Hills Riding Club offers therapeutic riding programming for people with mental or physical disabilities in which horses are used to facilitate healing and growth. At the time, I was particularly interested in developing our Saddles for Soldiers program. We developed Saddles for Soldiers to help veterans recover from trauma, and ultimately reduce the unnacceptably high veteran suicide

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An on-going series of case studies to make pro bono service an integral part of design practice

When Andrew reached out to the university, he did not necessarily know what design services he wanted. But he knew Shadow Hills needed help. At first, we were simply looking into site planning strategies for Shadow Hills. As time went on, however, Sonny became interested in taking the project to the next level. We assisted in determining the goals and scope of the project in conversation with Shadow Hills. In our initial engagement with them, the deal we brokered was to bring our students to the site and hold a research studio. We, the students included, simply engaged in an open analysis of their organization and property. We hoped to further understand their needs in order to develop effective architectural and landscape strategies.

rate. I wanted our facilities to be as client-ready as possible so we could start serving the community. When Jeanine and I first met, we were not totally sure how the relationship between our two institutions would progress, but we were both interested in moving forward. Jeanine and Sonny Ward then came and examined our property in an effort to understand the direction in which we wanted to take Shadow Hills. Jeanine was influential in fleshing out the needs and future of the organization. She and Sonny came up with the idea of transforming our partnership into an experiential design class for Woodbury’s architecture students. As both the professors and project leads, they were incredibly effective in putting together a program that would serve us and advance our mission, while at the same time benefiting the school and its students.

Through meetings, site visits, drawings, program analysis, and horse culture research, we studied Shadow Hills. Our students ended up using the research they collected to formulate a master plan to construct ten residential cabins. This vision evolved into the Cabin Project. We were pleasantly surprised when Shadow Hills’ staff enthusiastically accepted the proposal. Work on the Cabin Project spanned four semesters. Students were involved from the very beginning. The first semester we had a small studio of ten students. We subsequently determined a group of five or six students would be able to complete a unit in a single semester. We built three cabins during the second semester. In the third semester, we managed to construct an ambitious five cabins. The final two cabins were completed during the last semester. We made sure to communicate to the students each semester that their work was part of a continuum. Each group of students was mindful of the fact that they were building upon the work of the previous semester’s students, and similarly that the next group would pick up where the previous one left off. The work of the entire group of sixty students fit seamlessly together, despite the fact that many of the students did not actually work together. The students were first and foremost concerned with accessibility because they were building units specifically for military personnel with mental and physical disabilities. Accessibility is

PRO BONO CASE STUDY Nº4

“We were able to impress upon the students that they can transform an environment in a huge way through small, humble gestures.” — Sonny Ward, AIA

“...they were incredibly effective in putting together a program that would serve us and advance our mission, while at the same time benefiting the school and its students.” — Andrew Mikiel

We mentioned our desire to move forward with the Saddles for Soldiers program. To make the program as strong as possible, we wanted to be able to house our veteran clientele on site. So the students put together an idea: to build ten cabins as an anchor to the site, providing space for retreats and volunteer summits, weekend training seminars, and temporary living quarters for the military veterans. Jeanine, Sonny, and the students really engaged us and solicited our feedback. During each semester, the students made sure to coordinate with me. That coordination was quite valuable to their work. It altered the essence of the project in a very positive way. The transitions between each semester were pretty seamless. Jeanine and Sonny were very professional in everything they did. They began each semester by having the students come to Shadow Hills for an orientation to the property. That was always exciting. The new students saw the work of previous semesters, which helped provide them with something to strive for and work toward. At the end of each semester, they made sure to complete everything they had intended to, even if that meant ramping up the intensity. By the end, we all felt like a big family. Everyone was tremendously proud they had pulled together to make it happen.

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An on-going series of case studies to make pro bono service an integral part of design practice

I am very happy with their design; it is amazing. Throughout both the design and implementation of the project, working with the ACE Center was wonderful. Jeanine and Sonny orchestrated everything incredibly well. From start to finish, they did such a fabulous job.

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often discussed in architecture school. However, through this project, the students obtained actual experience creating accessible structures. The Cabin Project was an excellent way to teach students about accessibility in a hands-on way, something we haven’t otherwise seen in an academic setting. The students’ explorations are evident in the built results. Students additionally had to research the horse. They had to understand how interacting with a horse is calming for the patients. They successfully integrated that understanding into the Cabin Project. For example, a group of students created a special window on the side of their cabin through which therapeutic physical interaction could take place between people inside and horses outside. Sustainability was also a key concern of ours. The cabins themselves were alterations of Rainier Heartland Storage Sheds. We asked the students to utilize recycled products in the material they brought to the project. The materials they used ended up being either low-cost or fashioned from post-consumer goods. They made sure the entire project was off the grid, using no

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electrical power. We provided battery LED camp lights in each unit. The students attempted to use the fewest materials to craft the best possible architecture. There is a real leanness to this kind of architecture. In the context of architecture school, students often work on blank slates. The Cabin Project gave us the opportunity to show how transformative reactions to the existing envelope and environment can be. We were able to impress upon the students that they can transform an environment in a huge way through small, humble gestures. This was a truly interesting and meaningful experience for all of us. The site and the people at Shadow Hills were very different from what architecture students typically encounter. The work really changed the students over the course of each semester. They became much more sensitive to how their design work would affect the future inhabitants. Students spent a lot of their class time building in the field on the horse ranch. It was a beautiful setting for a classroom space free of normative constraints, and one that fostered creativity and generosity of spirit.

I was very involved in the construction process, especially because we had to bring in contractors. I spent a lot of time coordinating schedules and making sure work was completed. Constructing the project was a large undertaking. The support of Home Depot and the mayor’s office was invaluable. Shadow Hills needed to figure out how to attract more volunteers. I wanted to reach out to the community to build a strong volunteer base. We were invited to an event organized by the mayor’s office. The event aimed to bring together nonprofits seeking volunteers with organizations and companies interested in helping the community. I attended the meeting and ended up connecting with someone at Home Depot, who became very excited about what we were doing at Shadow Hills. While at the mayor’s meeting downtown, I joined a committee tasked with planning Veteran’s Day events. Due to my budding relationship with Home Depot, my position on the Veteran’s Day committee, and Shadow Hills’ commitment to serving veterans, I was able to organize a Veteran’s Day event to help construct our cabins. The event was electrifying. There were about 150 volunteers who participated. The mayor’s office and Home Depot managed the logistics, while Jeanine and Sonny put together the material list of what was needed. The volunteers helped to build the architectural vision Jeanine, Sonny, and I had hoped for. The Cabin Project gave the community and everyone involved an understanding of our organization and our mission. In partnering with Woodbury University, Home Depot, and the mayor’s office, we at Shadow Hills really felt the support of the community. In regards to the design build program, it seemed to be amazing for the students. It was empowering for the organization to witness the entire process and see everyone rally together

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An on-going series of case studies to make pro bono service an integral part of design practice

“The Cabin Project demonstrated to the university a pedagogical strategy for implementing student work in the service of societal causes.” — Jeanine Centuori, AIA

The Cabin Project has clearly continued to affect students post-completion. The students who participated are more passionate in the classroom. They take more ownership, and have a sense of pride in their design work. It is such a reward for us and for them as well. We saw students who generally produce average academic work excel in this program. There was something about this studio that ignited a fire and passion in those who participated.

to make it happen. The biggest take away for me was witnessing how completing this incredibly impactful project allowed the students to grow so profoundly.

Though we have finished our work on the Cabin Project, we are interested in staying involved. Shadow Hills has said it plans to outfit the interiors of the cabins to suit their daily needs for specific programming. We have established a bond between our respective institutions that will facilitate further collaboration. The Cabin Project demonstrated to the university a pedagogical strategy for implementing student work in the service of societal causes.

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An on-going series of case studies to make pro bono service an integral part of design practice

THE 1% PROGRAM The 1% program is a first-of-its-kind effort to encourage pro bono service within the architecture and design professions. It connects nonprofits with architecture and design firms willing to give of their time. Learn More PUBLIC ARCHITECTURE Public Architecture is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in San Francisco. It engages architecture firms, nonprofits, and manufacturers to commit to design for the public good through its nationally recognized 1% program. Learn More THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct to ensure the highest standards in professional practice. Embracing their responsibility to serve society, AIA members engage civic and government leaders and the public in helping find needed solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit www.aia.org. AIA ALLIANCE Public Architecture is one of several organizations supporting the architectural profession that the AIA confers with to obtain and share information to assist members. Find more information on the AIA’s Alliances.

All photography Š Jeanine Centuori, Ricardo DeAratanha/LA Times


Cabin Project - The 1% | AIA Strategic Alliances  

The fourth of an on-going series of case studies that feature projects by AIA members participating in The 1% who are making pro bono servic...