AIAS students give back to the community through Freedom By Design projects
Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
Freedom by Design is a purposeful community service and outreach program that allows architecture students to gain real-world experience through design and construction solutions. Thousands of people are confined in their homes with no way to access stairs, bathrooms, or their front yards. As an affiliate organization of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), Freedom by Design serves to correct accessibility issues and shortcomings by providing ramps, grab bars, and other means by which residents may access parts of their own home and not feel trapped.
In the summer of 2011, Lawrence Tech University’s (LTU) AIAS Freedom by Design chapter completed a design-build project for a non-profit organization called Rebuilding Together Oakland County (RTOC). Executive Director Al Kaczkowski contacted the chapter about the Common Grounds Sanctuary in Royal Oak that needed an entire kitchen and pantry renovation.
This extensive project began in May when former Freedom by Design Director Eliza Morales and AIAS member Ryan Maynard met with Kaczkowski and Team Captain Dave Adams to discuss project objectives and planning. Morales visited the kitchen to document existing conditions of the space and interview Common Ground Sanctuary Manager Steve Overstreet and other employees in order to gather their input regarding renovations. Over the course of several meetings, Freedom by Design members worked on proposed design options and then presented a proposal to their clients for approval.
Ryan Maynard worked closely with the team captain on purchasing products from RTOC donors such as Masco Corporation and Bike and Build while the LTU AIAS secured donations from vendors such as Pewabic Pottery, Daltile and Sherwin Williams. The retail value of the donations totaled more than $1,000.
In August, volunteers worked under the guidance of Team Captains Dave and Barbara Adams on the kitchen demolition and new installations. Renovations included pulling up the existing tile floor, installing new cabinets, wall tiles, upper shelving and also painting. Throughout this process, the AIAS and Freedom By Design members worked extensively to research and subsequently design this kitchen. The members also ran sessions for teenage residents to design and draw plans as part of a supplementary program.
At the end of the project in October, the Common Ground Sanctuary management staff hosted a barbeque for all the project participants. The project created an inviting as well as accessible kitchen. The members who worked on the project did so with pride and excellence. These members, who were part of the design team and build team, worked hard for many weeks to design an accessible project.
In addition to Morales, the project included Bryce Gamper, AIAS chapter president and Midwest Quad director; Michael Mondo, vice president of social events; Jacob Boyd, vice president of public relations; Samantha Doherty, treasurer; Meaghan Markiewicz, secretary; Vibha Kondur, chapter journalist; and Jolanta Skorupka, faculty advisor. The build team included members Shaun Carollo, Jason Flint, Brody Knox, Ryan Maynard, Andy Neevel, Cassie Pizzi, and Ryan Tucker.
Freedom by design has also completed other projects this school year. This includes the Sain Residence Renovation in Southfield, the Hoop House build in Detroit and the Bokos Residence Project.
Revisiting the Sain Project is an example of the LTU AIAS chapter’s dedication to the Freedom By Design program and their clients. The team was contacted by a past client who informed them that the concrete that had been poured had cracked due to weather conditions and that she was still considering a new front door. The team met with the client again and observed that some of the landscaping plantings had not recovered from transplanting .
The Freedom By Design group decided to revisit the project for some additional work for the client and to patch the cracked concrete path. The team replaced the front entry sidelights, the entry way light, and redid the front landscaping. The project was an example of being able to revisit past projects, keeping positive client relations, and being able to fix problems that were not expected.
Participants for this project included Bryce Gamper, Michael Mondo, Dave Andrus, Andy Neevel and Faculty Advisor Jolanta Skorupka.
Also in the summer of 2011, the Freedom By Design team maximized its focus on civic engagement by promoting urban agriculture in Detroit. Responding to an invitation from adjunct faculty member Margaret Wong, the AIAS chapter participated in the assembly of a 20-in-20 hoop greenhouse in the Edison district.
On an empty plot of land where an elementary school once stood, more than 20 AIAS members worked with other volunteers to erect the site’s greenhouse in a single day. By reaching out to the 20-in-20 team, our chapter and our Freedom by Design program became more engaged with our community and impacted numerous lives through a project that is predicted to spur growth in the surrounding area.
Participants in the greenhouse project included Bryce Gamper, Meaghan Markiewicz, Samantha Doherty, Vibha Kondur, Frances DePalma, Ryan Tucker, Priya Iyer, Shaun Carollo, Yousif Yousef, Faculty Advisor Jolanta Skorupka, and Adjunct Professor Margaret Wong.
In the fall, the Freedom By Design team was contacted by the Bokos family to create a living environment that meets the standards of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). The current residence is a two-story home with key areas that the family wishes to renovate. Most important to family members was being able to move from their vehicle to the inside of the house, so garage renovations were very important. Another goal is to create an ADA bathroom, with wheelchair accessible shower, and have enough space for circulation purposes. The team also researched and proposed wheelchair lift options for the family to install at the home of Mrs. Bokos’ parents.
All the AIAS students, members and faculty who participated in these projects did so with pride, dedication and hard work. Each and everyone used design to help facilitate a more accessible and sustainable place to live.