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Our senior commercial (non-office) studio partnered with a local inter-denominational church on the brink of beginning a building campaign but was without direction. It will be shown how the process not only benefited multiple entities, but also facilitated the meeting of course objectives. There can be many challenges to such a project type but early planning and an open dialog with the client group and students alleviated many issues. Concerns: Aligning client needs and expectations with course competencies; Beliefs/preferences of students; Preliminary planning for instructor. Prior to student involvement, basic conceptual goals were discussed with the committee and a potential site was acquired to give students as practical an experience as possible. The committee was informed of the course competencies to be retained and the time commitments required of this partnership.
Students were given background information about the church and its founders, learned about the developer, and analyzed the master plan of the site. Students were given brief research and on-site observation homework assignments (re: liturgical design, multi-use facilities, etc.) and returned to class to pool their findings. Students and I discussed how designing this type of large scale, mutli-use facility and how the future pro-bono client interaction would benefit them as future designers. This allowed them to take more ownership of the project and set aside discomforts they may have had with the subject matter. Students developed, as a group, their own programming list based on findings in their research and the preliminary conceptual ideas of the committee. They interviewed the committee and toured the proposed site with the developer. Students forecasted attainable sustainability goals, design appropriately and documented their solutions. Client contact continued throughout the semester through email correspondence, a midterm visit by the committee to our studio, and a final presentation to the committee and professional jurors. During winter break, student projects were put on display at the current facility for viewing by the congregation and community. Students grew from the client interaction and real world application and reacted positively to the overall experience. Course objectives were enriched through authentic client, tangible project site, and ongoing communication opportunities. ; The client/end user received free design ideas for a potential building campaign and assistance with developing the organization’s facility program. ; For the instructor, this served as an important addition to the teaching and service categories of academic advancement. Creative activity and scholarship opportunities were attained by professional exposure and supplemental consultations; Positive program exposure was an advantage for the university while the ID profession benefited from exposing a local audience to the true responsibilities of professional designers.