CUA is now serving its surrounding communities in a new way: Its School of Architecture and Planning is providing architectural design services to deserving organizations that could not otherwise afford them. The ultimate goal is to contribute to the improvement of Washington, D.C., and its neighborhoods.
“Universities have few programs that benefit local communities as much as community design programs based in their schools of architecture,” says Anthony Schuman, past president of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.
The first such job that CUA will complete for the community is redesigning and transforming the library of the Stuart-Hobson Middle School at 415 E St., N.E. CUA architecture professors describe the library as long and thin like a bowling alley, with pink walls and exposed computer cables snaking on top of the carpeting. CUA’s new design (illustrated above) adds a small café, curvilinear shelving inspired by the look of mesas in the western United States, classroom “pods” that allow for simultaneous use by multiple groups of students, and customized furniture that CUA students and professors will design and fabricate.
While the library isn’t scheduled to be finished until the end of 2006, Brandon Eatman, the middle school’s principal, says he is excited: “I believe the library designs will rejuvenate students’ interest in checking out books, doing research for papers, and reading as a whole. When I first saw the plans I thought of the pride that would be instilled in our students and staff to have a state-of-the-art library media center that was attractive and functional.”
Called CUAdc (short for the CUA Design Collaborative), the Catholic University community design program is unprecedented among D.C.- and Baltimore-area architecture schools, says Assistant Dean Michelle Rinehart. Catholic University students work on the CUAdc projects in collaboration with and under the direction of Rinehart and CUA architecture professors Luis Boza and David Shove-Brown. In return for their work, the students receive academic credit, hands-on archi-tecture experience and an opportunity to serve others.
The pro bono architectural work will be funded by grants and donations earmarked for the purpose, and by certain paying jobs that CUAdc will take on. Its first such paying job was designing and fabricating a 35-foot-tall, 12-foot-wide sculpture of a human neural network for the foyer of the Society for Neuroscience headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Back to top