University of Vermont

Rubenstein School Launches Ecological Design Collaboratory and Competition

Scott Carlson, senior writer at <em>The Chronicle of Higher Education</em>,  addresses participants at opening of Ecological Design Collaboratory.
Scott Carlson, senior writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education, addresses participants at opening of Ecological Design Collaboratory.

A new chapter in the Rubenstein School’s ongoing commitment to ecological design officially began on the evening of Nov 19th with a gathering of eighty students, staff, faculty, professional designers, local teachers, and Vermont residents at GreenHouse Residential Learning Community.  The evening was a celebratory launch of the UVM Ecological Design Collaboratory, an initiative dedicated to providing undergraduates from a diversity of majors with an introduction to place-based ecological design and opportunities to practice the hands-on skills needed to bring their projects to fruition.

In addition to showcasing a new design-build workshop in Room 9 and a stairwell gallery displaying place-based art, the evening also featured brief talks by several invited guests, including Senior Writer Scott Carlson of The Chronicle of Higher Education and author of Tools for Life, and Felix Wai, founder of Arts Riot on Pine Street in downtown Burlington.

The centerpiece of the evening was the unveiling of a design competition created by students in Catalyzing Ecological Design, a special topics NR 185 course taught by architects Diane Gayer and Tyler Kobick.  The Living Place Design Competition: "Creating a Crossroads for Community Ecological Design" has three sites that participants can choose from to create an ecological design proposal around the themes of Food, Water, and People. For details about the competition and how to form a team, visit the Living Place Design Competition website. The competition is open to local designers, high school students and teachers, community members, and university staff and students.

Several design-build courses and workshops are being offered during spring 2014 in association with the Collaboratory. Though most of the activities will feature the Burlington landscape and community, a companion course is currently taking place on Andros Island in the Bahamas under the direction of Rubenstein faculty members Walter Poleman and Steve Libby.  The students are working closely with Bahamian educators, students, farmers, and conservationists to design and build a sustainable farm and library on the campus of South Andros High School.