I've seen a lot of design-build programs at other architecture schools, what make designBridge different?
The biggest difference between designBridge and other design/build programs is that it wouldn't exist without the hard work and enthusiasm of students. It truly is a student-run organization. While designBridge does benefit immensely from the support and guidance of faculty and professional advisors these people are not accountable for ensuring its longevity.
Each year students take responsibility of doing projects, raising funds and growing the cause because they believe in it. They are signing on to carry out their own visions for a better world, not someone else's. Because of this designBridge projects are a smaller than those you might find at other University design/build programs. Students find and select projects, self-manage to take them from design conception to ribbon cutting as well as oversee the organization throughout the year.
How many students are involved in designBridge at any time?
Generally the class starts with about 50 interested students, but after time that number is whittled down to about 20-40 actively involved students.
What does the internal organization of designBridge look like?
designBridge is a horizontally structured organization, while some design-build programs are based on the master-builder model designBridge believes that the greatest capacity for learning occurs when a group of people challenge themselves to solve problems collectively.
People at each level of the organization work together to support one another to make projects happen.
AT THE ORGANIZATIONAL LEVEL: Management team consisting of student Admin, Outreach, Safety, Accounting, and Public Relations managers one Student Director and two faculty advisors who work with students to integrate designBridge with the curriculum and provide guidance on important decisions.
AT PROJECT LEVEL: Once a project is chosen the group of students taking related course credit self select teams to work on a particular project. A faculty member or local professional is chosen by the students to be a project mentor.
AT VOLUNTEER LEVEL: designBridge benefits immensely from the time and effort of volunteers at the organizational and project levels. These are often local professionals, materials manufacturers, parents, friends, clients, students not taking classes for credit, faculty and other community organizations.
How are projects funded?
Students apply for grants each year to cover operating expenses of the organization.
Project Development is supported through three terms of the designBridge Year Curriculum (see below) that is funded by the Department of Architecture.
Materials and permitting costs for individual projects comes primarily from the project clients but students often work with clients early on to help develop fundraising materials or identify donors.
How do projects operate as classes for credit through the U of O?
The designBridge Year Series – There is one designBridge class offered per quarter; Pre-Design, Studio and Tech-Build. Each has been created to support a different aspect of the design process. There are typically between 2-3 project included in the designBridge Year curriculum and the scope of those project includes schematics all the way through construction,
Small Projects – While the designBridge Year Projects are often seen as the "bread and butter" of the organization designBridge also works on numerous smaller projects and events throughout the year which are not necessarily affiliated with the studio but rather rely on volunteer efforts.
How are projects found and chosen? What criteria do you have for picking clients and projects?
Clients are found by word of mouth or by suggestion of a faculty member who has done some active recruitment.
Clients must be people who without the help of DB could not otherwise afford to complete their project.
The project must have a shared community benefit. The more people it benefits the better. Projects for private users are generally are not considered.
The project must have the potential to offer a significant learning opportunity for the students.
Studio projects for the DB year are chosen based upon the criteria of time, budget, scope and feasibility. Students vote on which project they want to work on and usually reach a consensus, but it is ultimately in the power of the core 5 managers to determine which project will be pursued.
Who oversees construction?
Usually students with construction experience, professional contractors, faculty and professional mentors are present to ensure all construction sites are safe and tasks are done correctly. The construction process is carefully advised and checked in on by organizational managers and a dedicated faculty member during the spring build term.
Do you have a licensed Architect available to stamp drawings?
No. No project done by DB has ever been stamped by an Architect (Although some have been stamped by an engineer). Licensed Architects are not willing to put their stamp on DB drawings due to liabilities. However, this has only been an obstacle to one project so far, and designBridge opted to work with a local architecture firm who was happy to have the additional business
How can I help or get involved?
Great! Please see the Support and Donate sections for more information.