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Arc/D students to build Community Center in Haiti

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

LAWRENCE — Twelve students in the University of Kansas School of Architecture & Design are taking a multi-term course that will culminate in the construction of a 3,000-square-foot community center in rural Haiti. This fall they are focusing on the design of the center, exploring the potential of utilizing ecologically sound, local building materials, including bamboo and rammed earth. 

The course is being offered in partnership with Haiti Tec in Port-au-Prince, the American University of the Caribbean in Les Cayes and the Maison de Naissance in Torbeck. Students participating in this program not only will learn how to design a building from conception through construction documentation, but they will also learn valuable skills in cross-cultural communication, community building, global practice, natural building methods and project management.

Associate Professor Chad Kraus and Professor Kent Spreckelmeyer, both of the Department of Architecture, and Professor of Design Lance Rake are supporting the design process by providing expertise in issues and applicable design and construction techniques. Frank Zilm, Chester Dean Director for Arc/D’s Institute for Health + Wellness Design, is spearheading fundraising and partnership building.

“We feel privileged to work on this project because it helps an underserved community through our commitment to global engagement,” said Arc/D Dean Mahesh Daas. 

Six students will travel to Haiti between semesters to assist in the initial construction and to work with faculty and students from Haiti Tec and the American University of the Caribbean.

In preparation for their travels, the students are working with Cécile Accilien, associate professor of Haitian studies, to understand the culture and social context of life in Haiti. The students will be receiving study-abroad credit for their experience.

Funds for the project are currently being raised through a Launch KU campaign, which concludes Nov. 2.  

Students involved in the project are Schuyler Clogston, Chesterfield, Missouri; Katie Harris, Dardenne Prairie, Missouri; Sekou Hayes, Kansas City, Missouri; Brighid Hegarty, Rushmore, Minnesota; Monica Mong, Littleton, Colorado; Benn Stover, Lawrence; Intisar Tyne, Dhaka, Bangladesh; Nicholas Vaaler, Chesterfield, Missouri; David Versteeg, Kansas City, Missouri; Sarah Wages, Camdenton, Missouri; Melissa Watson, Harrisonville, Missouri, and Kenneth Wilson, Wrangell, Alaska.

Photo: This semester, Arc/D students and faculty are designing a community center that is intended for a site in rural Haiti. Credit: Melissa Watson