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Students in design/buildLAB take on Little League project with big impact


A group of 16 students stand on a baseball field. Third-year architecture students in design/buildLAB. Front row, from left to right: Xiao Fu, Molly Vaughan, Nancy Redenius, Judith Johnson, Chanel Carter-Harris, Julia Vasquez, Mykayla Fernandes, and Ellie Burns. Second row, from left to right: Barbara Dior Kane, Tom Powers, Kellen McGinley, Ryan Myers, John Iaconis, Forrest Bibeau, Landon Williams, and Mitch August.

BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 1, 2013 – The Virginia Tech design/buildLAB and the Clifton Forge Little League will be working together on the design and construction of a new field house, including concessions and restrooms, over the course of the 2013-14 academic year.

Under the guidance of Keith and Marie Zawistowski, both professors of practice in the College of Architecture and Urban StudiesSchool of Architecture + Design, the two-semester design/buildLAB provides hands-on experience for third-year architecture students. Each year, a project is selected with the appropriate balance of technical complexity and scale that will allow students in the class to see the process through from concept to completion, from initial interviews and design work to the actual building of the structure. Projects are also selected based on their potential positive impact on a Virginia community.

This year’s Little League project in Clifton Forge, Va. is no exception.

“In this case the Little League had been operating on dilapidated, non-regulation fields that they did not own. The Little League has now acquired land and built a new field, but needs a field house including concessions, restrooms, and storage to make the new location fully operational,” said Marie Zawistowski.

The new field house will be located at the Col. Tom Dotson Park in eastern Allegheny County. The project is funded largely by a $90,000 grant awarded by the Allegheny Foundation in the spring and will be augmented through local fundraising efforts by the Clifton Forge Little League.

“design/buildLAB has been working with leaders in Allegheny County to identify projects which have broad community support. This project was introduced to us by the Allegheny Foundation, which had recently awarded a field house construction grant to the Little League. Further, the project met the design/buildLAB priority to work with organizations who have a history of realizing their mission but who could greatly expand their impact by realizing a building,” said Keith Zawistowski.”

This year’s team includes the following third-year architecture students:

  • Mitch August of Centreville, Va.;
  • Forrest Bibeau of Okinawa, Japan;
  • Ellie Burns of Baltimore, Md.;
  • Chanel Carter-Harris of Charlotte, N.C.;
  • Barbara Dior Kane of Dakar, Senegal;
  • Mykayla Fernandes of Stuttgart, Germany;
  • Xiao Fu of Nanchang, China;
  • John Iaconis of Canastota, N.Y.;
  • Judith Johnson of Norfolk, Va.;
  • Kellen McGinley of Moorestown, N.J.;
  • Ryan Myers of Owings, Md.;
  • Tom Powers of Rochester, N.Y.;
  • Nancy Redenius of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico;
  • Julia Vasquez of Kankakee, Ill.;
  • Molly Vaughan of Alexandria, Va.; and
  • Landon Williams of Baton Rouge, La.

Over the next several months, students will be conducting research and organizing community interviews, particularly with Little League families and volunteers for the league. Through their research and collaboration with community members, they will develop a range of designs for the project in order to facilitate further discussions with the community.

Progress of the project can be followed on the Virginia Tech design/buildLAB blog or on the design/buildLAB Facebook page. The students will be updating the blog through each stage of the design and construction process.

Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies is composed of four schools: the School of Architecture + Design, including architecture, industrial design, interior design and landscape architecture; the School of Public and International Affairs, including urban affairs and planning, public administration and policy and government and international affairs; the Myers-Lawson School of Construction, which includes building construction in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and construction engineering management in the College of Engineering; and the School of the Visual Arts, including programs in studio art, visual communication and art history.

Video: Design/Build Lab provides hands-on learning experience

    bridge built by students

Award-winning designers Keith and Marie Zawistowski provide an opportunity for their students to see a project through from conception to building.

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