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Design Through the Minds of Many // Alex Martinez


As students, we have come to know the design process as something that will always reside within the realm of imagination. Most projects we have been given regardless of scale and scope are nothing more than a learning tool to generate a creative design solution to a unique site without anything truly tangible coming from it. This romantic idea of designing without the input of other architects, clients and the contractors is something most designers would call the "ideal world" of design, but in the reality of our profession this "ideal world" does not exist.  Architects have become the mediator of design, acting as a channel for multiple means of the design process to flow through. This knowledge must then be used and dispersed  in the most appropriate manner that will both improve the design while also pushing the process forward into a new phase of reasoning. As the studio becomes more invested into the prairie and the design, which will inhabit our site, this reality of how the entirety of the design process comes together becomes more and more relevant.

No longer can our architecture hide from the realities of the real, tangible world. Something, architecture in this case, that is considered "virtually beautiful" must now take the all important leap to be realistically beautiful. What good is it if a building will never stand? or causes harm to the users? We, as studying architects, are here to promote the health, safety and well-being of the people who will inhabit our living art.  If our architecture is never experienced within the real world then what is the point of our design, or any design that never escapes the grasp of the virtual world?  It is important for us, especially now as we begin construction, to notice the key difference between the "virtual" and real world. We face real problems that do not exist in the virtual realm of design. A design may be finished in the ideal or virtual realm, but in the real world a design continuously evolves meeting the needs of unseen issues and the wants of the collaborative minds in studio.

Designing no longer finds its home in a single mind, but rather the minds of each student and also those who have come into contact with our project. Whether it be the clients, counselors, engineers or contractors each provides a new outlook on an issue that we, as students, have not yet resolved or possibly given thought to. With each new perspective that reaches our project, the design becomes a product of not only the studio, but of those who helped make it all possible. Collaboration with the clients and counselors provide excellent insight on how we can meet the needs and wants of Camp Wood, while help from our engineers and contractors push our design into the field or reality, allowing this project to become, for most of us, our first taste of tangible architecture that we helped design and build.

 Whole Studio Meeting with Directors and Counselors at Camp Wood


Meeting With Sean Slattery (left) and Don McMican (right) to reach appropriate structural specs

Of course, as in any design our studio has had high points followed immediately by low ones. Whether it be the highs of finally reaching a verdict on a single element of design or the looming fact that our design has found itself outside the parameters of the budget,  these realities of design have not deterred our continuous pursuit for a more efficient means of collaborate. A deeper understanding of the construction process matched with a better understanding of Camp Wood has lead us to a point where the drawings take the leap into a physical mock up, which in time will take the form of a final product. This realization is somewhat chilling to think about, but at the same time it is a crucial step that we will continuously face as we enter the professional world of architecture. Design + Make not only is a studio that evokes a realistic solution to a site, but provides the necessary tools for us to understand and interpret the ideas that circulate the minds of the client and contractor.

Initial platform prototype

Dry Stack skill development with Luke Koch

Written by Alex Martinez

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