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  • The University of Utah

    College of Architecture + Planning

    375 S. 1530 E., Rm. 332 Arch

    SLC, UT 84112

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    From chaos comes opportunity

    During the summer of 2007 DesignBuildBLUFF had been planning a collaboration with the non-profit group responsible for reinvigorating the Bluff fort block. We met with this group and the citizens of Bluff to formulate a program for a building that would in some fashion replicate the lost trading post, and sketched out a shop that would sell souvenir products to further endow the fort non-profit, with a second story that would double as meeting/dance hall. One day before the fall semester began (when we design), the whole thing, namely the funding, fell apart. It happens on all scales of our projects, smaller disappointments and re-thought solutions just about daily, if not more often. So instead we tried our hand at developing our own campus. And by design, we bit off more than we could chew: ShipShop and the Bathhouse. Recognizing this, we attempted a staggered schedule. Two of the most formidable premises of DBB is that everyone gets to learn, and that whoever is physically present at the problem gets to make the decision. We all learned that the leapfrog wouldn't work unless each project group was moving as a unit, for students were designing at home while it was consequently being built on site. ShipShop organized three shipping containers, two to house six students and the other to house tools. A common room connects the containers, parallel in x dimension, asymmetrical in y, with bathroom, couches and refrigerator, providing another eddy in which students vented steam from a hard day’s work, at times the preferred hang out. The stick-framed common area is clad with aluminum spent from a printer’s drums, still featuring images and copy in reverse, and in four separate colors. Donated cedar slats soften the cacophony of images and color, while parapets feature the re-purposed, found mailboxes acting as scuppers. Translucent monopan, a rare high-tech treat, but made of 100% recycled plastic provides a perfect diffused light by day, giving a lantern effect at night. The shops accordion doors are also monopan, wonderful for light to work with within the shop while calm from the storms. An aluminum ceiling, from 3Form’s donation of spent sheets used for pressing recycled plastic panels sandwiching ornament of choice within, helps reflect light into the lively shop, where pieces of future projects can be fabricated in controlled environment. Reflected insulating paint augments thin rigid insulation within furred out interior walls of the containers, and interior finishes include natural plaster and concrete floor framed by cement and broken beer glass aggregate. The Bathhouse features radiant floor heating, two showers of generous elbow room, two toilet and sink combinations, all housed within clear 3Form panels sanded translucent for privacy, providing exciting muted yet moving shadows. Flexcrete blocks were cut in half with reciprocating saws to make wild, undulating curves to provide an exterior texture perhaps unique in the world. The interior walls sport natural plaster, as well as the ceiling. A glass clerestory wraps the entire building, shallow to the south as the roof rises north forming a shell-like roof that intends to collect water to fill a wood-burnt heated bathing tub (yet to be assembled, however we remain hopeful). It’s a gem that once finished will soar the souls of all future students.


    University of Utah Students

    Eric Bradbury, Jeremy Bringard, Brad Brinton, Ben Butler, Cesar Caballero, Brian Carlisle, Dale Edwards, Leslee Kirkham, Jyana Messenger, Kentaro Nagasawa, Casey Skinner, Laura Smith, April Tritchler, and Chris Zarek