Project:ARCHITECTURE Girl Scouts of Utah Summer Cabins
12. July 2016
Denise Scott Brown's 2013 comments about a "Pritzker inclusion ceremony," acknowledging her role alongside partner Robert Venturi, brought gender inequality within the architecture profession to the fore. She is hardly alone in demanding more representation by women in architecture. Witness these three cabins in Utah, which created the opportunity for girl scouts to be involved with an actual building project while potentially "building the pipeline of future practitioners in design and construction fields." University of Utah professors Jörg Rügemer and Erin Carraher answered a few questions about the cabins.
What were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?
The project came about through non-traditional means. The former dean of the College of Architecture + Planning, Brenda Scheer, was a member of the Girl Scouts of Utah board and suggested the GSU work with the university in order to involve scouts in the design and development process. She brought the project to the Integrated Technology in Architecture Center (ITAC) where the project team developed the multi-pronged approach of involving teaching, research, and outreach components.
Please provide an overview of the project.
Project: ARCHITECTURE is a partnership between the Girl Scouts of Utah (GSU) and the University of Utah (UofU) intended to raise awareness of careers in the built environment for women through hands on education and outreach activities, engagement in discussion regarding social and environmental issues, and the creation of opportunities for architecture students to meaningfully participate in community engagement and mentoring activities.
The need for engagement with young women is critical to building the pipeline of future practitioners in design and construction fields. Research suggests active recruiting and mentoring may be required to raise awareness and support the development of women practitioners.
Women in the workforce in Utah are more likely to work in service-related fields, be unemployed, and work fewer hours than their male counterparts. They marry younger and have more children than the national average and have the fourth highest wage gap of any state at 70¢ on the dollar. The representation of women architects in Utah is equally well below the national average—14% compared to 28% nationally.
ITAC project directors integrated opportunities for scouts to engage with college students, faculty, and practitioners throughout the participatory design process. Girl Scout programming reaches 8,000 girls in Utah, making this organization a uniquely well-suited partner to address gender equity in education and career exploration.
In 2014, construction on the inaugural built project resulting from this mutually beneficial partnership—three cabins for the GSU’s Trefoil Ranch Camp in Provo, Utah—was completed. The project demonstrated how outreach activities, university-industry partnerships, and public interest design can be utilized to leverage academic resources for the broader good.
How does the design respond to the unique qualities of the site?
Due to the challenging site with difficult access, the cabins were designed on piers (as an analogy to the former tent platforms in the camp), and were pre-manufactured in components that could be mostly handled without a crane.
The cabin site is located on a wooded site at the upper end of Provo Canyon (elevation 6,190’) in Utah’s Cold Climate Zone. Due to the warm, dry summers and cold winters with a heavy annual snow load, the camp’s use is restricted to the summer months only when it offers diverse activities during daily, weekend, or weekly camps to the GSU population. A significant environmental issue affecting the region is the recent outbreak of the mountain beetle. This invasive insect has killed over 46 million acres of forest in the mountain west, leaving standing dead trees that significantly increase the risk of forest fire.
The cabin project served as a demonstration opportunity for a building system in development by one of ITAC’s industry partners, Euclid Timber Frame PC. Interlocking Cross-Laminated Timber (ICLT) is a prefabricated cross-laminated solid softwood wall, floor, or roof panel system that is fabricated from two to seven layers of alternating direction pine stock milled from waste or beetle-killed pine wood using a robust, CNC-controlled process. Originally developed in Europe, Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) uses adhesives or mechanical fasteners to assemble solid softwood timber stock into structurally sound, cross-laminated building components and panels.
The cabins were designed and built in close collaboration with Euclid Timber, who in addition to developing the ICLT system, is also a general contractor focusing primarily on timber construction using natural building methods. The assembly method of choice for certain components was adjusted during the design process and through collaboration with the structural engineers, as the designs were part of a prototyping process for this new system.
Photos from outreach events
How did the project change between the initial design stage and the completion of the building?
Faculty project managers hosted a year-long series of outreach events to expose Girl Scouts directly to women practitioners, provide female students mentors in design-related programs, offer opportunities to visit architecture firms and construction sites, and repeatedly invite girls to events on the university campus.
The GSU involvement in the project was two-fold: there was a Leadership Group of middle and high school age scouts who followed the project through all stages by participating in workshops, site visits, design charrettes, and firm tours, and a broader audience of scouts aged five through eighteen who participated in a day-long event that used hands on activities specific to the cabin design to demonstrate general principles about architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, and multi-disciplinary design.
By incorporating the scouts into the process, the design team received invaluable information from the end users that resulted in a space saving of 25% and allowed the addition of a covered porch area within the original budget.
Was the project influenced by any trends in energy-conservation, construction, or design?
Interlocking Cross-Laminated Timber (ICLT) was the primary building and construction material used for the cabins. Originally developed in Europe, Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) uses adhesives or mechanical fasteners to assemble solid softwood timber stock into structurally sound, cross-laminated building components and panels. ICLT is a similar, prefabricated cross-laminated solid softwood wall, floor, or roof panel that is fabricated from two to seven layers of alternating direction pine stock milled from waste or beetle-killed pine wood using a robust, CNC-controlled process. Euclid Timber Frame PC, with research support from the University of Utah’s Integrated Technology in Architecture Center, developed ICLT as an innovative and highly-sustainable material to incorporate locally-sourced wood damaged by pine beetle infestation prevalent in the American West using CLT as a precedent but further developing the system to remove adhesives from the process and use standing dead wood stock. Binding the CO2 content of already dead wood into this long lasting, low maintenance product, ICLT has a low environmental impact over the project's life cycle and eliminates the use of VOCs by removing adhesives from the assembly. The cabins were built in collaboration with Euclid Timber, who in addition to developing the ICLT system, is also a general contractor focusing primarily on timber construction using natural building methods.
Email interview conducted by John Hill.
Project:ARCHITECTURE Girl Scouts of Utah Summer Cabins2014
Provo, Utah County, Utah
Girl Scouts of Utah, Lisa Hardin
Public Interest Design Process: 08/2012 – 08/2013
Construction: 10/2013 – 06/2014
Jörg Rügemer, Erin Carraher, University of Utah School of Architecture
ICLT Research: ITAC/Ryan E. Smith
Plastik Banana, Bradeson Brinton
Marin Hebdon, Rachael Knudson, Kristine Merkel, Steven Walters, Sarah Winkler, Emily Black, Matthew Dennis, Xiomara Salazar, Anna Gallagher, Pingting Wei, Rachel Sorensen, Danielle Frohn, Caitlin Thissen, Catrina Covelli, Harrison Bush, Amy Johans, Jody Zimmer, Ali Beach, Cameron Bowen, Scott Baker, Aric Farnsworth, Aaron Fennell, Shawn Poor, Alex Stoddard, Ardavan Tookaloo, Massih Hamedani
Celestia Carson, Charlotte Frehner, Elpitha Tsoutsounakis, Shalae Larsen, Shundana Yusaf, Anne Mooney, Brenda Scheer, Jeanne Jackson, Heather Wilson, Benjamin Baird, Whitney Ward, Bradeson Brinton
Brenda Scheer, Prescott Muir, Keith Bartholomew, Ryan E. Smith, Bob Mutz, Mayra Focht, Roger Thom, Robbi Richter, Julie McAdams, Robert Payne, Mark Haslam, Libby Haslam, Mark Green, Teresa Wu, Darrick Despain, Jared Colton
Consultants: Steel Fabrication: Wasatch Steel, Kingdon Sheet Metal
Acute Engineering, Paul Thorley, Sandy, Utah
Kimco Fire Protection, Inc., Orem, Utah
Euclid Timber Frame PC, Kip Apostol, Heber City, Utah
Approx. 1 acre
2,400 sf (3 cabins @ 800 sf each)