Wentworth Institute of Technology (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 2635-2643
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
For the past several years, Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT) in Boston, Massachusetts has been transforming its educational model to the one based on Interdisciplinary Project-based Learning. The Studio-based Education of architects is naturally suited to this model.

In the summer of 2014 and with this educational model in mind, the co-authors submitted a proposal for an initiative that would provide much-needed services to a non-profit organization - the YMCA of Greater Boston – while meeting the educational needs of third-year WIT architecture students. The proposal, which was accepted by both WIT and the YMCA, would allow the YMCA to define their requirements and narrow their focus on their needs. The YMCA could move forward with the conceptual designs for projects that had not yet been programmed. The YMCA, along with most other non-profits, does not have the resources or expertise to conceptualize their building requirements or envision solutions to their building program needs. The twelve students in one third-year WIT studio would be challenged to each come up with a project design. The breath of the design solutions would aid the YMCA in conducting a fundraising campaign and requesting funding for the projects, with the utimate goal to receive approval to hire an architect and to start the building project. WIT would first provide architectural and structural engineering services to the YMCA, and later expand the scope to include all other disciplines needed for the projects.

The first studio was offered in the fall semester of 2014 and this paper presents the experience of students and the client - YMCA

The studio included two separate assignments on the same site:

a. Create a multi-purpose community park above a proposed parking facility at the YMCA’s urban location

b. The redesign, reconfiguration and expansion of an existing two-story YMCA child care facility to address new program requirements, existing deficiencies and respond to altered site conditions on a very congested site.

Unlike other, hypothetical studio design assignments, this initiative provided students with the rare opportunity to:

a. Meet with clients and discuss the clients’ program needs to formulate program requirements
b. Explore design solutions that would need to address the goals and constraints of real clients.
c. Integrate the needs and wants of the larger community – those using the facilities - into their designs. And, potentially, provide that community with tangible benefits.

Not only did the students gain the satisfaction of helping the YMCA address community needs, but they also gained the confidence that comes from a successful “pitch.” After seeing the solutions prepared by the students, the YMCA Board of Directors, the George Robert White Fund and the City of Boston funded the multi-purpose community park concept for design and construction.

This paper will describe and document the processes that students used in their individual solutions to the client’s needs and the research they did in preparation for their projects.