Communicorps Students Design Housing for Seniors in the Monadnock Region.
Every April, students
from the Collaborative Architectural Project class present design plans
and recommendations for individual and community organization
According to Peter Temple, associate professor of technology, design,
and safety, the course, known as "Communicorps," emphasizes a team
approach to solving real-life architectural problems. The class also
allows students to experience the evolving nature of their projects and
feedback from clients, faculty, classmates, and architects.
Ben Steiner, Shaina Seidner, and Shelley Frederick, working with their client Southwestern Community Services, designed a 20-unit housing facility for seniors for a location on Warwick Road in Winchester. Among challenges facing the design team, says Ben, were making four of the units fully ADA compliant, and the other 16 adaptable to ADA requirements. "Another challenge," he said, "was designing a space that was as livable and comfortable as possible for seniors, while ensuring that the units would be affordable as well." The students' solution, he said, was to design units that were small but felt roomy, and to incorporate a large community space in the facility.
The value of working on a Communicorps project, says Ben, is the learning on the job that occurs during the design process. "As soon as the project begins," he says, "you learn about the importance of the architect-client relationship (Communicorps students meet with their clients every other week during the semester). We also learned how to design around disability act requirements, taking into account issues facing elderly people, such as mobility."
It is these practical things, explains Ben, that he hopes will give him an edge when he embarks on his architecture career.
"My Communicorps portfolio will be a great thing to show a prospective employer," Ben says. "It's a record of both what I've done and the things I've thought about."