Session: Advanced Design/Build, Summer 2022
Builders: 12 builders
Materials: local maple, plywood, exterior paint, Douglas fir (2×8, 2×10, 2×12), pressure treated 2×4, standing seam roofing
Description: Our Advanced Design/Build team packed their bags and trekked to Vermont to build a bus stop in partnership with Yestermorrow Design/Build School! This project was completed in partnership with Vermont Transit Authority with funding from AARP, with the goal of helping Yestermorrow build 10 total bus stops for the state’s public transit system. Documenting this project could fill an entire book, but we’ll do our best to summarize! You can also watch a mini-documentary in which students explain the whole process here. We built the entire project on site in 4 days!
The concept: We began the design portion of this project in January 2022, with a charrette and design session with students. We researched precedents for other bus stops as well as the project brief from Vermont Transit Authority (VTA), which provided some physical constraints like dimensional maximums, accessibility requirements, and minor things like visibility of both feet and and an oncoming bus, show loads and roof pitches, etc. Our students proposed a variety of concepts, but one common idea came to the surface: we wanted our bus stop to be a hub for community, not just a bus stop. Inspired by the Little Free Library concept, we added in a central bookshelf and created paneled murals, designed by our Protest + Print instructor HyeYoon Song, to represent a graphic version of Vermont’s topography. To make the bus stop feel light but also grounded, we created a double-pillar system and added in local maple slabs for benches and a standing counter top. We also did all the engineering calculations for snow load and shear strength, leaving plenty of room for ADA-compliance and wheelchair accessibility.
The structure: Once we arrived on site, we began by building the deck out of pressure-treated wood, with all the deck boards spaced 1/8″ apart. Our deck frame has double-joists in which a vertical “stubby pillar” is bolted in, which ties the whole above-ground structure and posts together. The structure is a three-bay plan, with H-shaped frames that are joined at the posts to create three open bays in the front and back. We spent the first day framing these H’s and raising them into place, using the roof rafters to connect and square the whole structure. On the following days, we added the roof purlins and standing seam roofing and worked inside the Yestermorrow woodshop to mill, plane, and join our maple slabs into gorgeous bench back and tops. The maple came from trees on Yestermorrow’s property that were felled in accordance with local sustainability efforts.
The mural: From the beginning, we knew that we wanted to integrate an art component to make the space engaging and warm. We first reached out to local Vermont artists but could not find anyone who could complete the 7 mural panels in our timeframe. Our instructor HyeYoon Song is a talented graphic printmaker, so we asked her to help us conceive of a geometric scheme that was feasible to create in 4 days. The result consists of 4 panels, mirrored front and back, that call upon the features of Vermont’s topography: rivers, greenery, sunlight, and even a snowperson. Instead of taping and painting each color field in 2D, we decided to construct our murals like a topographic map, cutting each layer out of 1/4″ plywood. The result is a 3D undulating surface that mirrors the landscape and provides an additional depth to the space.
The team: Huge thanks to our Yestermorrow partners and support people: Chrissy Bellmyer and Nick Pattis, and our extraordinary intern, Tyler Anderson! Our own instructional staff included founder Emily Pilloton-Lam, Shop + Project Manager Augusta Sitney, Advanced Design/Build instructor Hallie Chen, architect Tonia Sing Chi, and Emily’s mom, Anna Lam Pilloton. But the core crew was our 12 Advanced Design/Build students, many of whom have been with us since they were 9 years old (half their lives!). This crew is a diverse, committed, compassionate, and unbelievably supportive group of young people how know how to rock power tools, work together, and have fun every step of the way (case in point: our lunchtime limbo breaks).