A local architect firm is teaming up with Tyler high school students to lend hands-on design and construction experience while helping out a nonprofit organization.
Mrs. Ziegler serves on the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce’s Education Committee and said there has been a lot of talk about getting businesses involved with local schools to help guide students to choose the right classes, plan for careers and to get a head start in the process.
She said Fitzpatrick Architects started thinking as an office about how to get more involved. They had gone to career day at schools and held career fairs at their office but it was hard to paint a clear picture of what architecture was about to students in such a limited time.
Meanwhile, Habitat for Humanity contacted the firm about getting more involved with the nonprofit organization, which helps build houses for those in need. Mrs. Ziegler said they had helped the group before but wanted to help bring more awareness about Habitat for Humanity to the community.
Deanna Harrison, director of development for Habitat for Humanity, approached them about doing a project to build playhouses and auction them off in a competition.
The two ideas — to get involved in education and help Habitat for Humanity — converged into PLAYhouse, Mrs. Ziegler said.
She said that while talking to Crystal Forrest, career and technology director for Tyler Independent School District, “a light bulb went off.”
There are architecture programs at Robert E. Lee, and one is starting at John Tyler High School. Both schools have construction departments. But many of the students have never even seen an architect’s office before, she said.
She said it is designed like a college freshman studio, where a student would get a design project such as a playhouse to work on with a mentor, such as the professor.
On Wednesday, Fitzpatrick Architects had a kick-off event for PLAYhouse, attended by students, teachers, architects and Habitat for Humanity advocates. Students were given their curriculum for the project.
Mrs. Ziegler said all five partners of the architecture firm will be involved with the teams, made up of two to three students, which will come up with 10 playhouse designs. Architects will meet with them weekly to guide them with their concepts.
A committee will be formed to pick the best four designs, which will pass from the architecture students to construction students.
She said they have already had phone calls from construction companies about donating items for the playhouses and they hope to pair students with local construction companies for help.
The architecture students will have about a month to design the project while the construction students will have about a month to build the playhouses.
The four playhouses will be auctioned off at FRESH by Brookshire’s during the Thanksgiving holiday, Nov. 17-30, but plans have not been finalized.
Mrs. Ziegler said they are hoping to raise as much money as they can for Habitat for Humanity.
“I have no idea where this could go,” she said. “I really hope that the community will get behind it and it will just take off and be much more than we could hope for.”
She said she hopes it will be a positive way to support the education system and community. “This is something we hope to repeat every year,” Mrs. Ziegler said.
She said the students will document their work at http://on.fb.me/P2AWAC so the community can keep up with the students’ projects and so they can raise as much money as they can for Habitat for Humanity.
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