U of I Friday Letter: Architecture Students Learning From the Ground Up
The University of Idaho’s land-grant mission takes flight when community-minded people collaborate and use their talents to tackle the challenging issues we face in our state, such as affordable housing.
Construction begins shortly on the first of six one-bedroom homes in the Lupine Flats Project – a cooperative effort between U of I faculty member Randy Teal and his students, the Moscow Affordable Housing Trust and alumnus Mark Engberg.
Mark and his wife Laurie are loaning the capital for the materials interest-free, and donated about $2,700 for tools that Teal and his graduate students are using to build the home over the summer. The project’s multi-pronged purpose includes serving as a model for affordable housing projects in Moscow and beyond.
The students are working as employees of Mark’s company, COLAB Architecture and Urban Design, while gaining tremendous hands-on experience. The plan is to build one home each year. Graduate students in the College of Art and Architecture’s (CAA) Design-Build Program work on designs throughout the school year and then construct the homes in the summer months.
Proceeds from the sale of the first home will fund construction of the second home, and Mark is hopeful by the time the sixth house is built, the project will generate funds that CAA can reinvest in the program.
“It’s really a unique opportunity,” said Mark, whose company is based in Portland. “We hooked up with the Moscow Affordable Housing Trust and they said, ‘Here’s the land, let’s see what we can do.’ It’s a big win for the students and a huge win for all of us.”
The Lupine Flats project is developing on a small parcel along Palouse River Drive in Moscow. Mark hopes the project will inspire other similar projects in town and around the Pacific Northwest, where affordable housing options are limited. And it will definitely give U of I students a tremendous learning experience.
“I think it’s important that students get that experience of developing property beyond the architecture part,” Mark said. “When I come across an architecture graduate with that experience, that’s gold. Or should I say silver and gold!” Progress on the Lupine Flats project will be shared on social media throughout the summer. The first video posted this week.