June 19, 2012
Designing and Building a Pavilion: III
Before the Yale School of Architecture could support an expensive seminar for the design and construction of an experimental structure, we needed to secure a professor, a client, a site, and financial sponsorship to make the project real. Our first step was to find a sympathetic faculty member who was friendly to our initiative and […]
Before the Yale School of Architecture could support an expensive seminar for the design and construction of an experimental structure, we needed to secure a professor, a client, a site, and financial sponsorship to make the project real. Our first step was to find a sympathetic faculty member who was friendly to our initiative and had availability to teach a seminar. With his experience in digital experimentation and fabrication, Brennan Buck seemed the logical choice as our mentor.
We knew that New Haven hosts the annual arts and performance event, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, on the town’s historic Green. So we approached this group to gauge their interest in our idea of an intervention that could work in conjunction with their event. Together we batted around some programmatic ideas, until it became clear that an information pavilion for the festival was the obvious place to start. The festival used a tent for this purpose, but its organizers wanted something more interesting. Yet there was the question of limited resources. They told us that if our group of students could find a way to construct and donate this pavilion, they would find opportunities to merge whatever we built with their branding strategy and act as our consultants. Our initial team spent several days, during last year’s festival, observing logistics on the New Haven Green.
The class takes a tour of Assa Abbloy.
Once it was clear that the project had taken on the realistic parameters of a site, function, and client, the financial momentum picked up speed, and the seminar’s subject took shape. We focused our financial pitch on the project’s artistic benefit to the community, thus finding all our support in New Haven. Initial start-up contributions came from the Yale Graduate and Professional Student Senate and the Seymour Lustman Memorial Fund. Assa Abbloy, the parent company of Sargent Lock, and a generous supporter of many programs at the Yale School of Architecture, enthusiastically agreed to become the primary benefactor.
As we worked to gather financial support, we also made a parallel effort to move our proposal for a design research seminar through the Yale School of Architecture Curriculum Committee. We argued that nothing on this scale or scope had been produced on the school’s CNC machines. And that such a large-scale engagement would empower us to test current theory; it would also force our application of computational technology to engage with realities of construction. Approval for the course as a fabrication seminar came with generous financial support from the Yale School of Architecture.
What did we learn in the process? If you want something done, do it yourself. We did not wait for a phone call from a client with a budget.
We spent one year strategizing these logistics before any design work could take place. That initiative challenged architecture students to muster their entrepreneurial spirit and gather financial resources and the support of multiple constituencies in the service to their own enterprise.
Eric Zahn is a recent graduate of the M-Arch II program at Yale where he was awarded the Hilder Family Scholarship. Prior to attending graduate school, Eric worked in the Baltimore office of Ayers Saint Gross Architects and Planners. He received his B-Arch from Syracuse University in 2008, where he was awarded a Dean’s Thesis Citation and a Chancellor’s Award for Civic Engagement.
This post is part of a series on Designing and Building a Pavilion.