Shelters in Place: Architecture Graduates Leave Legacy for Campus Bicyclists
BOZEMAN – When six architecture students graduate on Friday, they will do so knowing that they leave a legacy that will provide lasting beauty and shelter at Montana State University.
The six, all graduate students in the School of Architecture who were enrolled in a fabrication class led by teaching professor Bill Clinton, created a bike shelter design that will soon be replicated across campus. They also built and installed a set of protype shelters from the design outside of MSU’s Cobleigh Hall.
It was an exercise in practical design and construction that was particularly rewarding for the six, who will all receive master’s degrees in architecture.
“We created a system for future shelters of this design that will be built on campus,” Clinton said, adding that future shelters will be built by professional construction companies from the students’ design. “This will be the campus signature design for bike shelters for at least the next three years.”
The idea for the shelters came prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, explained Ralph Johnson, director of the School of Architecture. Clinton, a master woodworker, is known for his design-and-build fabrication classes in the School of Architecture in the College of Arts and Architecture and the practical products produced by the classes. For example, students in a previous semester’s class built furniture for MSU’s new American Indian Hall, constructing the items from wood processed from trees felled for the project. The former project manager for the Campus Planning, Design and Construction office who had worked with Clinton and his class on the AIH furniture asked the school to collaborate on the shelters. Kristin Blackler and the Office of Sustainability provided funds for the project. A student design competition was held. Then COVID hit, and the idea was put on hold until revived last spring.
Clinton said that the bicycle shelter project was a bit different from previous class projects because of the layers of required permitting and approval that the students had to navigate. Because the shelters are campus structures, the design was vetted by Residential Life and the Office of Sustainability and the University Facilities Planning Board. The design also had to be approved and permitted by the City of Bozeman. Clinton said negotiating the approval process was a practical experience for the six graduate students, who will soon need to negotiate similar local approval policies as part of their career.
Then the students worked with fabricators and well in their own shop, then installed the three shelters outside of Cobleigh, which should accommodate 60 bicycles.
The student crew included Braden Heidbrink, who had previous experience with commercial computer-aided design and drafting software applications as well as experience on a construction crew, both helpful for the success of the shelter project.
Heidbrink first enrolled at MSU in 2012 but took some time off to work for local landscape and construction companies. Heidbrink returned to his studies more than four years ago, and when he graduates in December he has a job at Reid Smith Architects in Bozeman, where he has worked part-time during his schooling.
“Bill’s class is really an integral part of the School of Architecture program. It was a great opportunity to have some hands-on work, especially because we do so much work on paper and computers (in other classes),” said Heidbrink, as he helped set the beams for the shelters near Cobleigh. “It’s been a fun project.”
Jonathon C. Contreras Cervantes, who came to MSU from Santa Rosa, California, said the students began their design work with a standard bike rack, then designed the shelter to fit around it.
“It’s been a great experience to have this hands-on experience,” Contreras Cervantes said, adding that he feels that having to work with a team as well as presenting plans to receive permits are important practical experiences.
Korry Broderick, a third-generation architect, said he believed the project helped ready him for work in his family’s architectural firm in Seattle after commencement.
“It’s important to do these kinds of projects to learn the skills needed to be an architect,” Broderick said. Broderick worked with Heidbrink at a local homebuilding company. He said a key aspect of the shelters are benches built into the sides of the shelters, which were designed to provide a community space for students.
Kameron Conklin of Maple Grove, Minnesota, said the six who worked on the project are a close-knit group.
“We started out with a class of 250 students and there will be 36 of us graduating this December,” said Conklin. He said he hopes to find work with a firm in Bozeman. “I love the mountains. And the architectural scene is really good.”
Other students involved in the project were Nicholas Joscelyn and Christian Snell. “Every one of the students contributed in every sense,” Clinton said.
Johnson said the project represents a wonderful collaboration among several branches of the university.
“Administration, academics, university planning and design, and Residence Life all contributed to the success of the project,” Johnson said.
“The academic experience was enriched for the students, the needs of the student body were met with not only excellent design (completed) more quickly than had the project gone through the typical services contract for design, bid and construction saving the university both time and money,” he added.
-By Carol Schmidt, MSU News Service-