By Alex Gladden
For each of the past three summers, students attending Design Camp in the Fay Jones School have designed an outdoor classroom project.
This year, the students who met on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville were divided into two groups: Design I, for beginners, and Design II, for those with more experience and knowledge.
The 42 students in the Design I group this summer were instructed to design an outdoor classroom for Maple Hill, an area of campus near the John W. Tyson Building and across from the Reynolds Razorback Stadium parking lot known as “the pit.” The sloped space of the hillside is surrounded by trees and has a stream running through it, which the students were able to incorporate into their designs.
Requirements for the project included creating a rain shelter, seating for a minimum of 20 people and a connection to the existing path.
The camp instructors have continued assigning this project each year because it incorporates the three disciplines taught in the school: architecture, landscape architecture and interior design, said Alison Turner, Design Camp instructor and director.
“It offers the opportunity to start thinking about things as a designer from the ground up,” said Carl Smith, Design I instructor.
The students eventually created a model for the outdoor classroom based on their designs.
“Design is about being in the real world in a real way,” said Ethel Goodstein-Murphree, associate dean and architecture professor, as she welcomed students in the camp.
During the students’ field trip on the third day of Design Camp, they visited Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. They were able to use the Welcome Pavilion connected to the Bachman-Wilson House and the Tulip Tree Shelter, both located at Crystal Bridges, as examples of what an outdoor classroom could look like.
“I like architecture, but it’s very different from what I thought,” Bartow said.
Bartow said she initially thought architecture would include more engineering aspects. Design Camp gives students a clear idea of what design is about.
Christina Lim, a Design I student from Fayetteville, said that she came to Design Camp to see if she was interested in any of the three disciplines. Though she said she had a lot of fun, Lim decided that she is not interested in pursuing a career in design.
It is important for students to have the information to make these kinds of decisions, Turner said. It helps them prepare for their future.
Even though Lim said she does not think she will not become a designer, she really enjoyed getting to build her model. She designed the outdoor classroom so it was small enough to be an intimate space but was still big enough to have room to breath. Her classroom design included a circular base with a thatched roof that connected at a point at the top.
Bartow said she thinks that it is helpful for Design Camp students to talk with the college students, like her, who help with the camp because it allows the teens to ask questions about what college life is like.
Smith said that the main difference between teaching college students and Design Camp students is that Design I students do not necessarily have any previous experience. The camp helps them learn to start seeing their world as an architect, landscape architect or interior designer does.
Smith also said he likes teaching Design Camp because he gets to revisit basic ideas, which hones his teaching skills.
This was the first year that the Design I and Design II options were offered. Design II was created for students who have already attended Design Camp or have previous experience with design, Turner said.
Hopefully, Design I students will want to return for a second year now that there is a more advanced option for them, Turner said.
“It’s really rewarding to see these kids’ light bulbs go off,” Turner said.
Carlee McGuire, a Design I student from Kingsport, Tennessee, said she was able to get a better understanding of the three disciplines of design. She also enjoyed using various types of materials to build her model, which was large and circular. The panels she used for the walls had spaces between them to allow sunlight to enter the structure. A ladder along the side of the building would allow students to climb to the second floor, which was covered by an awning to protect students from the rain and sun.
The students also learned how to incorporate the environment into their designs for buildings, said Jenson King, a Design I student from Rockwall, Texas.
Zakary Butler, a Design I student form Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, said the instructors’ critiques of his work taught him a lot about design.