Construction Training and Education Center

Although we are mostly concerned with college architecture projects here at F+, we still look for all sorts of education programs concerning architecture.  From the Architect’s Newspaper, this project from Jeff Goldstein, the head og Digsau, and The Challenge Program in Delaware brings together architects and at-risk children. Using the building as a learning environment, the program teaches kids carpentry and construction.

PROGRAM: Construction Training & Education Center

“CTEC is the first project by the four KieranTimberlake alumni who are now the principals at Digsau. And while Digsau has other projects built or well under way, CTEC moves at its own, organic pace. The design and master plan allows for repetitive tasks and improvisation. “We knew from the beginning what they didn’t need was standard construct documents,” said Goldstein. “We knew that the design would evolve, using the resources that became available.”

The Challenge Program works on several outside projects besides the CTEC campus, such as low-income housing and historic restoration. The building process at CTEC yields innovations that find their way into the other work. When eventually completed, the facility will include a green roof and solar panels. The building already utilizes reclaimed materials and features one of Wilmington’s first geothermal heating systems.

The non-union organization gets surprisingly smooth cooperation from unions on city construction projects. “Sometimes the city gives them houses to renovate,” said Jeff Starkey, Wilmington’s director of licensing and inspections. “It may take them a little longer because they’re learning, but the detail on what they do is actually fabulous.” Nor do they get a free ride from L&I; instead it becomes another learning opportunity, as students are brought in to see how an official licensing review works.

Sawtooth skylights flood the rectangular interior with natural light and give the building a jagged profile; a cantilevering balcony juts out toward the stream. A metal stud frame allows for a modular system of reclaimed wood panels, measuring approximately a classic 4 feet by 4 feet. The wood—donated from a range of outside jobs—creates a variety of textures and color. The process of preparing the panels was like an old-school handwriting exercise, in that repetition gave way to interpretation, with the students’ handiwork giving the project an unexpected quilt-like quality. Back inside, deconstructed redwood pickle barrels serve as tables and sit atop block endgrain flooring that the students made of fir.”

All text and images via Tom Stoelker at The Architect’s Newspaper


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