Monday, July 14, 2008

Students Design Skateboard Park

27 middle school students in Lincoln, Nebraska designed a skateboard park for their town complete with quarter pipes, rails, jumps, stairs, handrails and vertical ramps. The middle school students were participating in the Bright Lights Architecture Career Day Camp In July.

The weeklong camp introduces students to the design process by taking a real-life architecture challenge: design a new city skate park, a longtime dream of local skateboarders. Students had to consider topography, drainage, parking, trash receptacles, benches, signs, playgrounds, surfaces, traffic flow of skaters in the park, fencing, plantings, foliage, maintenance, and anything else around the park. They took notes, made sketches and learned about teamwork.

The architecture camp explores all aspects of architecture: city planning, landscape architecture, architecture, and
interior design all based around one design problem. By the end of all these learning experiences the students complete team concept models and present those to their parents as an architecture team presentation.

“That’s what we strive to do each year — take the kids through that design process,” said Lynette Fast, an art teacher at North Star who has headed up the camp since it began seven years ago. “It’s the whole process of understanding your place and your site and understanding the needs of the people (who will use it).”

The career camp began in 2002 as a way to expand the Bright Lights programs for middle schoolers. The nonprofit summer program had a connection with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Architecture and professors there thought creating a camp was a great idea.

Richard Sutton, a landscape architect and UNL associate professor of agronomy and horticulture who has taught at the Bright Lights camp every year, said he knows not every student will end up an architect but they might be bank presidents or attorneys or others who get involved in such projects in their communities.

In the past, camp participants have designed bike path shelters, a meditation shelter at Wyuka Cemetery, and animal and education shelters at Pioneers Park Nature Center.

All the projects are real. Although none have been built yet, the city, Natural Resources District or cemetery want to build them at some point. Lynette Fast, who presents all the designs at annual National Art Teachers Association meetings, hopes they’ll be used by officials to help generate ideas when they’re ready to build.

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