9th annual Charrette goes to the dogs

The first week of school, Interdisciplinary Design Institute students at WSU Spokane are initiated, so to speak, into the institute through an intensive, 30-hour design challenge known as the Charrette.

The Charrette is a design education tradition, being an intense project with “a tremendously difficult timeline,” said Keith Diaz Moore, Charrette coordinator and assistant professor of architecture and landscape architecture. “To complete everything in 30 hours is pretty amazing – and to see the delicacy of some of these solutions is fascinating,” he told the Spokesman-Review Thursday.

The Charrette engages students from each discipline – architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, and construction management – by assigning one student representative from each discipline into one of more than 20 groups of four to five students.

For most of the undergraduate students, this is their first experience on the Spokane campus as they come here to finish their degrees after completing their first two or three years in Pullman. “I really enjoyed the Charrette,” said Kendra Lundahl, senior architecture student and team member for a winning design. “Throughout (the event) our team tried to assess and utilize all the disciplines’ unique strengths; which really turned out to be effective. It was kind of hard at first to give up some of the control, but in the end it worked out better than I expected, because everyone got to do what they were personally best at. All of us are just so excited to see our project actually built; it should be fun!”

The design challenge, which always has a community connection, is kept top secret until announced at the Charrette kickoff on Wednesday morning, with the final project due Thursday by 4 p.m.

SpokAnimal was the lucky recipient of the students’ creativity this year. Student groups planned, designed, and created model dog houses – many worked throughout the night – complete with construction timelines, budgets, cut sheets, and a to-scale cardboard model within the 30-hour deadline. The top finishers’ designs will be constructed for SpokAnimal’s annual auction on October 1 and displayed at Northern Quest Casino prior to the auction.

Students met their “clients” Wednesday morning and chose which dog they wanted to create their house for based on the canine’s personality, size and heritage, in addition to choosing a renowned designer or artist from whom to model their work. Characteristics of Warhol and Le Corbusier could be seen in some of the finished houses, which ranged from Asian temples to 1950s diner influences.

Faculty from the Interdisciplinary Design Institute prepared breakfast for the students before the sun came up Thursday morning, which was in conjunction with a 6 a.m. interim deadline and several KXLY-TV live broadcasts from campus.

“The 6 a.m. deadline was a new twist to the Charrette this year and everybody was surprised at how fun it was,” said Nancy Blossom, director of the Interdisciplinary Design Institute and professor of interior design. “An amazing amount of dedication was shown by the students – some who were completely done by 6 a.m. – and it created a sense of teamwork for the faculty who came in to cook breakfast.”

“We are so very thrilled to be chosen to work with the Institute’s team on this project,” said Lori Humphrey, development director at SpokAnimal. “These incredibly creative dog houses will be sold at our annual auction at Northern Quest, and the money raised will be going towards building a new home for SpokAnimal’s shelter.” Humphrey added that she hoped SpokAnimal would be lucky enough to have one of the students work on the design of the new shelter.

The dog house designs can be viewed in the Gallery of the Phase I Classroom Building on the Riverpoint Campus throughout September. SpokAnimal has already received numerous calls from those interested in purchasing the dog houses.

The “Honor Award” or first place for the dog house designs recognized comprehensive excellence in aesthetics, function, craft, economy, management and structural characteristics of the material. This top team received $60.00 Uniprint (campus computer/printer) cards for each team member and tickets to the SpokAnimal dinner and auction on October 1. Team members included Joshua Schafer (Construction Management – Lynnwood, WA), Kendra Lundahl (Architecture – Lacey, WA), Whitney Wiggins (Interior Design – Puyallup, WA) and Kelly Gordon (Interior Design – Spokane, WA).

Other winning award categories included: creativity, constructability and organization/management along with the second and third places of merit and honorable mention respectively.

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