Archive for November, 2015

Thinking inside the box

Monday, November 9th, 2015

I had a chance to view some work done by students here at Texas A&M this past saturday, it wasn’t the usual though, this design work didn’t have the twists, turns, blobs or shards that we so often see in the design studio classes, this was a box.

Actually it was quite a few boxes, you’d know them as shipping containers, amazing steel constructions made for shipping almost anything all over the world. These containers weren’t different on the outside, they were different on the inside. Swing the big doors open, flip the lights on (yep these have power) and you’re standing in a medical screening space. Take a few steps and you’re in an exam room, and go through a door and you’re in the treatment room. This would be a pretty straightforward project in the design studio, but I was walking through the clinic container itself, not a digital model, a physical space.

Then I learned they had built 4 of these and were preparing to ship them to refugee camps in Greece, and to Hati, Hondouras, and Kenya. The students were hosting a reveal of the finished and in-progress clinics saturday, very proud of what they did and looking forward to doing more!

Our three architecture students were the design/construction planning team, and there were nine teams total, looking after everything from project accounting, marketing, operations on site, materials acquisition, and funding. Other Aggies join them to build, paint, assemble and load as they prepare to fill the clinic containers with medical supplies and ship them out.

So is this a 3 credit class or a 6 credit class? Nope, no credits. No credits, no pay, no time off from classes, all done for the greater good, done as a global memorial to students from Texas A&M who died in the bonfire collapse in 1994.

Our university just kicked off a capital campaign to raise a few billion dollars, building a pretty big (even for texas) tent to house a kickoff dinner with music by Earth, Wind, and Fire I think. The campaign theme is “Lead by Example” I couldn’t help thinking that while the big event was going on, the clinic builders were scrambling through the downpour to get ready for their reveal. Tired, wet, but still, come saturday they were prepared and gracious hosts.

The billions they hope to raise will be nice to have I’m sure, but I guess just the scene was such a study in contrasts, one the one hand, spending, a bunch to build a big party tent, and bring in big name entertainment in the heart of campus for one night of hand shaking and check writing and on the other hand proud, wet, tired students putting clinics together on the edge of campus to help people with no motive other than helping make the world a little better. I can’t say either was more important, just that the approach of the students seemed more appropriate to the theme “Lead by Example.”

This kind of thing goes on all around us, people dishing out food at shelters, bringing hot meals to the elderly, buying holiday gifts for the angel trees, dropping coins in salvation army buckets its a good thing. Having a nice dinner under a dry tent is a good thing too, making donations to support good causes is an effective way to leverage the hours of volunteers into more help in more places.

As we approach our bonfire remembrance, as we approach thanksgiving, and the season of holiday lights, its important to keep others in mind, the ones we give our hearts to, the ones we give our hands to, and those we try to reach with a few hours or a few dollars donated.

We’re the only ones who can make a better world, each of us, a little at a time.

If you’d like to learn more about the BUILD program making the clinics, look in on this link.

Happy Fall Y’All!
Be good to each other