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When It Takes a Village

AIA members help to build new youth center in Southeast D.C. during 2012 AIA Convention


AEC Cares

On May 16, one day before the beginning of the 2012 AIA National Convention, Reed Construction Data and Hanley Wood hosted an AEC Cares service project in Southeast Washington, D.C. Drawing many volunteers from convention attendees and AIA members, the service project restored a donated abandoned building, turning it into an energy-efficient and sustainable transitional residential facility for the local non-profit Sasha Bruce Youthworks.  All images courtesy of Reed Business Information.

AEC Cares

Building plans for the addition and renovation, designed by Germantown, Md.-based Stoval Smith Neyman Architects. More than 100 volunteers donated their time to help build a residential facility for homeless children.

AEC Cares

Volunteers add insulation to the walls of the residence.  The rebuilding effort is what Shasha Bruce Youthworks call a “blitz build”—an effort to rebuild an entire house in a single day.

AEC Cares

Volunteers measure and cut wood for the AEC Cares Sasha Bruce Youthworks service project. Many building materials were donated by product manufacturers and building material companies.

AEC Cares

AIA Illinois Executive Vice President Michael Waldinger, Hon. AIA, helps build the Sasha Bruce Youthworks house.

AEC Cares

Waldinger with Washington, D.C., mayor Vincent Gray.

AEC Cares

From left to right, Laura Marlow, Reed Construction Data’s Program Director of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships; AIA President Jeff Potter, FAIA, Waldinger; 2012 AIA First Vice President/2013 President-Elect Mickey Jacob, FAIA; and Reed Construction Data CEO Ian Melville pose at the building site.

AEC Cares

A rendering of the completed addition and renovation (designed by Stoval Smith Neyman Architects) shows volunteers what they’re working towards.

While thousands of architects came and went from the nation’s capital this past spring for the AIA’s 2012 National Convention, traces of this influx of architectural expertise and generosity remain. On May 16, one day before the official start of the convention, architects pitched in at a Southeast D.C. construction site to repair a blighted building that will be used as a new youth center for local nonprofit Sasha Bruce Youthwork. More than 120 volunteers from the AIA, Hanley Wood, and Reed Construction Data joined students from Sasha Bruce to participate in the one-day “blitz-build.”

The effort was a part of Reed Construction Data’s AEC Cares program, in partnership with Hanley Wood, which collects donated building materials and then organizes volunteers to participate in a service project in the local community of that year’s convention. Volunteers worked with students to repair the basic frame of the structure, install windows, and add an addition with a donated brick façade, giving them hands-on construction experience.

Sasha Bruce Youthwork provides health services, education, employment, and leadership training as well as stable housing for at-risk youth in Washington, D.C. The new center, located at 5032 D Street SE, will provide not only longer-term housing for homeless teens finishing high school, but offices for staff, a communal kitchen, and a greenhouse for growing and selling produce.

“Sasha Bruce Youthworks does so much good locally,” says Reed Construction Data CEO Iain Melville. “So for the AEC community to come together and to contribute the labor, materials, time, money, and know-how, which make a lasting difference to young lives in D.C., was both humbling and uplifting.”

Deborah Shore, executive director and founder of Sasha Bruce, noted the importance of the day for the student volunteers. “This really fulfills our mission not just to alleviate the issues that get in the way of young people reaching their potential, but to bring a very, very dilapidated building to a point where we'll be able to move into it,” she says. “It’s a great gift that made something happen in the District with lasting staying power.”

While the center would not be ready until summer, the director of Reed’s AEC Cares program, Sheyla Walker, noted that Reed was able to jumpstart the most critical stages of the project by first securing building material donations, and then planning and managing the logistics of the event. “Our help really got it off the ground. It allowed us to have multiple volunteers on-site and multiple projects going on simultaneously,” she says. “Reed gets to see where it started, how it will evolve, and is able to monitor the process through completion.”

A few others will be looking on eagerly as well. Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray was in attendance, along with Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National & Community Service. AIA Illinois Executive Vice President Mike Waldinger, Hon. AIA, also volunteered at the event. “Volunteering builds relationships in the community. It opens doors for you to talk about architecture,” he says. “Real life is happening all around us for people who never knew they needed an architect until meeting one who volunteered.”

Back to AIArchitect August 10, 2012

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