Skip directly to content

Concrete Comp 2015—Making Place

Concrete Comp 2015

Architecture students participated in the annual fall semester Auburn Architecture Concrete Competition. Taught by Professors Mary English, Scott Finn, and Rebecca O’Neal Dagg, the third-year architecture students and visiting students from Istanbul Technical University (ITU) designed variations of a Makerspace—a mixed use facility for visiting artists and craftspeople affiliated with the Southern Makers movement. Fifty building proposals, prioritizing the innovative use of concrete as a construction material, are speculatively designed for an infill site in downtown Opelika, Alabama. Each design included craft workshops, visiting artist residences, community workshops, a cultural athenaeum, galleries, and a store. Students balanced pragmatic programmatic concerns with design strategies for manifestation of the maker’s movement philosophy in their architecture.

The maker’s movement in the United States is a loosely organized grass roots craft and trade revival including innovation in design, art, food, drink, craft, and music. Participants often referred to as “Makers” have an entrepreneurial spirit that is rooted in craft, quality, community, and place. There is a strong component of local cultural preservation for lost and fading arts, a push for innovation through new applications for technology, as well as an educational component that extends into all ages of the communities where the makers work. Knowledge of foodways, cultural heritage, and product origins are deeply rooted in the regional and local movements nationwide. Makerspaces are individual and collective studios and workshops offering low tech and high tech tools to advance technique and facilitate creative making.

In Alabama an organization called “Southern Makers” has initiated an annual event featuring regional artists, designers, artisans and producers. The celebrations are, on the one hand, a resurrection of uniquely Southern making, and on the other hand, the events offer a potentially ripe catalyst environment for economic development and generating market development both locally and regionally.

Held in December 2015, the Concrete Competition jury reviewed fifty student design proposals for the Makerspace/Athenaeum and then chose finalists to present. The finalists presented their projects in more detail, and then the jury selected winners.  The competition culminated with architecture student Michael Kelly receiving first place. Ozan Sen from ITU placed second. Frank McDaniel placed third. Honorable mention was awarded to Brandon Richardson. Finalists included Gabriela Bragan, Jared Core, Cree Hayunga, Zeynep Kuyheylan from ITU, Caleb Munson, Taylor Oswald, Annie Ray, and Ward Taliaferro. Competition jurors were Lesley Hoke Braxton (Competition Jury Chair) from Cooper Carry, Atlanta; Raleigh Price from Seay, Seay & Litchfield; and Bud Shenefelt from Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects. Students’ projects were exhibited at Dudley Hall through December 11. Each student generated three large boards composed of plans, sections and other experiential drawings, and completed physical models detailing their design responses for the small scale urban project. Ultimately the project challenged students to develop architectural strategies to accommodate a catalyst building that will attract more artisans, artists, and cultural makers to the area and encourage the ongoing success of Opelika’s downtown economic development.