In the thick of a heat wave, the Yale School of Architecture first-years came together this week to start building a two-story home on 41-43 Button St. for a homeless family and a single renter.
In the thick of the heat on Tuesday afternoon, the Yale School of Architecture first-years came together to build a two-story home on 41-43 Button Street. The project is part of the Jim Vlock First Year Building Project and is sponsored by Columbus House.
Columbus House’s “mission is to end homelessness” through efforts like these, CEO Alison Cunningham said as she supervised a crane carefully lowering wooden stresses onto the roof of the structure.
As a first-year requirement, the housing project is structured as a semester-long competition amongst the class who were split up evenly into nine groups. First-years Emily Cass, Christine Pan, and Thomas Mahon formed half of the six-person winning team that designed the house.
“It’s a defining program,” said Cass in her neon green hard hat. Mahon agreed that the program sets Yale apart from other institutions: “People come here often for the building project.”
The building will feature separate units and outdoor spaces for the family and individual respectively. The design allows for the residents to “choose how much they interact,” Pan said. The first years were required to incorporate donated cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels into the design.
Rather than resort to placing the CLT panels as exterior decoration, the group made the creative and practical decision to put the material’s “extraordinarily structural” properties to work to support the center of the house.
The eight-week planning process started with initial ideation amongst the group, with the bulk of the physical designing placed in the last month. “We saw each other constantly,” said Pan.
Working in a team of equals who all have individual and disparate styles posed a “challenge” but also made it “exciting,” Mahon said.
Prior to the physical assembly of the rooftop trusses via crane, the team designed the structure using the 3D modeling program Rhino, then created a wooden prototype of the house.
“It’s life-saving [for the homeless] and life-changing for us,” said Cunningham.