DBB Student Reflections 2008/2009


Kinley is making custom shelf.

The Design Build BLUFF program brings the focus from the competitive and self-centered environment of the school and places a student in a situation where everyone is working together for the betterment of someone else in need. The problems of the world are the focus but in the end lives are touched, knowledge is gained and people are bettered.


Design Build BLUFF is about engulfing yourself in a different culture as well as a hands-on environment. This movement from a usual setting encourages you to reach inside yourself, act outside yourself, and better yourself in a way sitting behind a desk just can’t. Some things are just not taught in architecture school such as realistic budgeting, constructability, working with a real client, and fulfilling a real need.


This incredible program brings students out of the theoretical problems and into the practical solutions of architecture.  Most architectural students are visual learners and what better way to study architecture then by example and building it yourself. Getting over setbacks and coming up with a practical solution with minimal means and limited resources.


Nobody can go away, after having been a part of this program, and be the same as they were before. It has a way of changing you. Design Build BLUFF is the best thing I’ve done in my many years of education. I learned not only how to be a better architect and designer but a better citizen and cause for change.

– Kinley Puzey, 2009 WHITEHORSE

DBB Students reflect on their experience – Sean Baron


Sean is laying out for the detail of ladder for the loft

I’ll tell you with 100% confidence that the Bluff experience will have been the most valuable and rewarding part of my education. I think that the school of architecture and the “real world” are disconnected for the most part. The closest we students get to real world practice are the few and far between studio projects that actually force you to take practicality into consideration. But even these projects are based in the studio where all you touch and see is the keyboard and computer screen. There’s something extremely powerful about hands-on experience, no matter what field you’re in. And these days it seems as though contractors build without the cares of design, and architects design without the cares of constructability. Educational experiences such as DesignBuildBLUFF force you to step into the shoes of the builder, and you quickly learn about the consequences on the jobsite as a result of what you as an architect have put on paper.
One of the important lessons I learned through Bluff is how to deal with your clients demands in terms of design. In our case, and most likely in Bluff years past, our client had a solid preconception of what a home should be. Of course, her idea was exactly what we were trying not to achieve. Therein lies the dilemma—pleasing your client while still designing something you believe in. So we had to learn how to present better solutions to design problems that we encountered while building the home. I am very grateful for being able to participate in this program and hope that it continues to educate future architecture students-SEAN BARON, 2009 WHITEHORSE

DBB Students reflect on their experience – Katie Cressal


Katie sanding a custom window frame

I have learned so much at Bluff that cannot be learned in any other setting, classroom or workplace. In one academic year, I saw the design go from concept to a complete building and it amazed me. I never knew how much adapting goes on in design until I came to bluff. An idea might work on paper but it can become unusable in the real world. Bluff stresses that design is not created in a vacuum, but is created through the conflict of differing opinions, environmental conditions, and limited resources. The background of Bluff was inspiring as was the interaction with a rich culture. Giving back to this culture after being immersed in it for a semester was very fulfilling. Everything became real and gritty in bluff, as opposed to the glossy magazine photos you see in architecture magazines. Doing the work has made me more confident in my abilities as an architect and as a person. I learned how to work with others and also how to take control and be independent. I also became closer with the people in my class (which I did not think was possible after 3 years of intensive studios).  Overall, the experience was worth it. It broadened my experience in architecture and made my weak skills stronger.  – KATIE CRESSAL, 2009 WHITEHORSE

The first review of the t-shirt design proposal for 2009

DesignBuildBLUFF is having a t-shirt competition

for the crew of the 2009 project “The Whitehorse”.

These are the design proposals that passed the first review.






An eddy stop for beer undiluted by the San Juan River water.  Tans are looking mighty farmer-esque.


Just an excerpt from the highly anticipated day.  Mike began with a home built raft constructed by Mike, Scott and Tom.  I watched as it exploded in the first mild rapid, and paddled aggressively toward a slightly panicking Tom, who claimed to know not how to swim.  We all unwrapped the various tie-downs, ropes, OSB, Gatorade (yuk — I had thought I rescued a concoction of spirits brewed up by Eric, but alas…) — and still, we all survived.


Yes, the aforementioned anticipation.


Who knows where the time goes?

More troweling work

Hank is troweling the base coat.



Fisher, Hank’s son, helps him to finish base coat.



Preston and Slim, Suzie’s sons, are also troweling the base coat.



Slim is concentrating on finishing the edge of the mud wall.



Preston is troweling mud into the Native American pattern that he designed.