Lights, Camera, Action!

The greatest and latest update with the Greenhouse Project, besides receiving the IKEA grant, is the involvement of a phenomenal film crew from SCAD. Jennifer Bird and Luke McMahon are bringing their camera and editing skills together as Directors of Photography, to create a video about the project for a new fundraising campaign.

They have been conducting interviews, visiting the sites and becoming consumed in the world of sustainable design.  They say they like the story we have to tell and you know what, I couldn’t agree more!

Additional film students have been collaborating on this project as well: Devin Lawrence: Sound; Taylor Jenkins: Sound, Gaffer;  Emily Van Horn: First Assistant Camera; Meagan Hodge: Director (yep, that’s right folks!)

Old and new footage of Emergent Structures, as well as the apprenticeship program DESIGNability, have been gathered and are on the way to being edited. The final video will tell the story from the beginning days of Emergent Structures to their selection of this project and finally the designs of the new greenhouse.  Multidisciplinary opportunities have expanded to not only include SCAD and Savannah High School, but also Savannah Technical College!

It’s amazing how construction has not even begun  for this project and the cross collaboration between multiple sectors is flourishing.  Everyone is so eager to take part in creating the story that brings to light the needs of Chatham County and for me, it’s all still a dream!  Stay tuned, for the final video and updates along the way!  And don’t forget: support local film professionals…video feed from your cell phone does not count as real footage!!


well, well, well….I’m Back!

Yes, ladies and gents.  It has been a while since I have posted any updates, hellos or how are you’s.

Well, here’s for an update….go big or go home right?

As you all know, I designed an off-the grid greenhouse for the students involved in the apprenticeship program, DESIGNability, which will expand their annual growth capacity, incorporate additional learning opportunities in construction and expose students to the importance of reclaiming materials.  Of course you all knew that!!!

Well, here’s the REAL news…..this small detail of my M.A. final project has been chosen by local-Savannah non-profit Emergent Structures, to be built, constructed and usable in the near future!

Yes, my designs will actually come to life with reclaimed window sash, un-wanted brick and even some hydro-ponic tomatoes (well, eventually).

IKEA, the scandinavian furniture company, has awarded Emergent Structures a $9,000.00 (big money honey!) contribution to fund another phenomenal project focused on adaptive re-use of material…enter stage left: Savannah High School’s Greenhouse Program and me, the humble designer.

So, hang on to your britches.  Meagan will have lots of updates coming to you in the near future and Happy New Year EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Get your Chop on!

Well, well, well.  We just can’t seem to stop doing stuff!! The last two Thursdays with the students have actually been a little more project based.  Ideally, that is what the apprenticeship will involve: Identify the need and solve for a pattern of solutions, rather than just one.

Remember when I posted about us denailing Jotoba (brazillian cherry) wood for Wooden Sheep?

Of course you.

Well we got to help with Phase 2: assembly and gluing.  This commissioned job is for The Butcher, an art gallery on Bay Street.  Dilated Spectrum, our in-house graphics and screen print company, completed the graphics package and now Wooden Sheep  is completing custom orders as well.

Plain and simple: the design is a cleaver. Easy enough!

Glue is setting, so next phase….heavy machinery planing operation for the students!   Well, we might just have to work up to that one. Enjoy, cause I surely am!

Window Sash, Polyethylene and Brick…Oh My!

Hello all. So here are a couple of images of the next big project for the apprenticeship!!! These are the conceptual drawings thus far.  They will be edited, refined and rendered oh in the next 7 days!!!  The final designs will be submitted to multiple funding opportunities to help support this dream become a reality!

This “educational” greenhouse incorporates modern technology with old and new gardening techniques.  The Savannah High Greenhouse Project will be using this facility for annual production of produce and plants.  Multiple educational projects will take place on site ranging from basic horticultural skills, reclamation of construction materials, compost production from all waste and carpentry projects.  Students will be able to participate in every phase of the construction: design, material preparation, on-site build and garden preparation.  And this isn’t just for the kids…entities such as Savannah Urban Gardens,  Well Fed Savannah, Savannah Technical College, Harambee House, Wooden Sheep, Southern Pine and Dilated Spectrum will all have a chance to get their hands dirty in this project!

Off the grid greenhouse to include…

  • Vertical growth of cucumbers and tomatoes
  • Horizontal lettuce growth with vermicompost system: Yay worms!
  • Rain collection with irrigation system powered by solar energy
  • Passive cooling and heating techniques incorporating a double envelope cavity
  • Permeable brick paver foundation
  • Reclaimed window sash, studs, timber and brick
  • Solexx Polyethylene 5mm rolled roofing panels
  • Solar powered vent openers
Feedback is encouraged!!!! What is missing, what else should be incorporated?  Sorry, no private hot tub will be included with this project.

Get out of the pool and into the greenhouse

Hey everyone! The countdown is ON.  Two weeks left to collect my thoughts and regurgitate it into a successful project.  And of course, at the end of any design project, new discoveries are made they make you want to throw out everything you’ve been putting your heart and soul into and change direction.

Well, not me!  Or atleast, I just have to tell myself that!

I ran across this design: Garden Pool…an un-used in-ground pool converted into a viable greenhouse.  Genius! Who needs to be in a chlorinated body of water soaking up harmful UV rays anyway??  Take a look see, and pass this along to anyone that might be interested in producing their own food, growing fish, trying out shelfponics and saving money!! Warning: the website is a little tricky to navigate, but there are some good tutorials to further explain design details.  Enjoy! More project updates soon!

If all buildings had websites…

Plain and simple, sustainable solutions stir the pot.  The majority of people are hesitant to change, but have begun to demand that their products, housing and day to day choices change first.  Consumers want to know where a product originates from and who is behind the design.  The act of purchasing, investing and living have become a symbolic reflection of who they are; so I believe that this demand for “transparency” is a positive outcome of current day green washing.

With LEED certification of buildings, a new market of transparency has infiltrated the architecture industry.

We can now calculate energy and waste production and even quantify the scale of human happiness that takes place within these structures.  These findings are exposed to all occupants, investors and the public eye. Some people might say this is exposure is too much, that boundaries are being ignored.

I say, it just makes sense.  Let me know that at 2:00 p.m. this room is using this much energy, let me know that the design of a new governmental building is going to save our community x amount of dollars.  We have a choice of which home, building, restaurant or facility we occupy our time in, so why not get all the facts first?

The Genzyme Building in Massachusetts, was essentially designed from the inside out.

It is 12 stories of natural ventilation, water reuse and 18 garden spaces.

The building expresses the company’s core values of innovation, transparency and collaboration.  And here is a beautiful, interactive website that exposes multiple aspects of the design.  Just think, if all buildings had websites, would our sustainable choices become easier?  Or more complicated?

Podponics: a Georgian, technical invention

Adaptive reuse of shipping containers is not a new concept.  However, outfitting these containers with hydroponic lights and a soil-less growing system, that is all backed with a triple bottom line, “local everywhere” approach is something new.   Take a look at The Atlantic’s newest article, video and interview.  This would be a great educational installation for the site…a sweet phone call for a charity donation never hurts, right??? And plus, we already have access to about 2o shipping containers, compliments of Ramsey!!!  Here is their website!  Very inventive, sustainable and down right awesome!

Bill Strickland: a social architect

Paths cross for a reason.  People use that statement in multiple contexts.  For me, synchronicity is an everyday compulsion.  I ran into blank at the Sentient Bean, which connected me to blank.  So-and-so posted a great website at the same moment I happened to jump online which lead me to blank.  There was only one gluten free brownie left at Gallery Espresso, that means that I must eat it.

Anywho, I ran across Bill Strickland’s visionary programs in a Historic Preservation class that I took in the Spring of this year.  Then, bam, I remembered his talk and how completely relevant his work is to my project.  And another inspirational visionary is something I am needing RIGHT NOW.  Sooo once again, I reach to Ted Talks for a best practice of online media exchange.  Warning: he will move you and possibly pull a tear out of your eye, which is not a bad thing.  Click Here for the video.

A little bit of Bill’s bio from While moonlighting as an airline pilot, Strickland founded Manchester Bidwell, a world-class institute in his native Pittsburgh devoted to vocational instruction in partnership with big business — and, almost incidentally, home to a Grammy-winning record label and a world-class jazz performance series.

Also, here is a link to his personal website:

Ongoing Progress…

Every Thursday, I have the opportunity to work with students on Southern Pine’s site.  Sometimes it’s for one hour sometimes two, but no matter what I always laugh.  We helped out good ole Wooden Sheep and denailed some Jotoba (brazillian cherry) wood  that once was a flooring, headed to the dump, then brought on a detour to Southern Pine.  Since the board feet is primarily short runs, Eric at Wooden Sheep has designed chopping boards and is starting to assemble them.

Today, I heard one of the teachers kindly request one of the students to pull up his pants.  She joked, I keep telling you, no one wants to see what’s in those pants on a jobsite.  In the middle of his whispering repetitive rapping, he softly responded ‘okay’, smiled behind the safety goggles and set down the wavering hammer, that really was only a tool for him to sing with.  I learned later that he attended Summer camp with AWOL and was involved in recording a song with rapper Kid Syc.  He told me that he will continue to only practice until he can make enough money to attend camp again.  They say this student is categorized as a MID: Mild Intellectual Disability, which doesn’t mean much to me.  I just know he wears sweet kicks and has a gentle smile.

Here’s a little bit of what we are up too…..p.s. I am not allowed to photograph these students.  someone, somewhere has labeled them as something and request no photographs.

Aimee Mullins: The Opportunity of Adversity

Her story is an intriguing one.  Yes she has had more access to possibilities than some, along with world wide modeling gigs and also 12 pairs of legs.  But her message is strong, poignant and everlasting.

“The only true disability is the crushed spirit.”

Not only is she strong willed and determined, she is a phenomenal speaker.  Please watch her Ted talk for 2009: The Opportunity of Adversity.  She discusses the stigma associated the word disabled and what it will take for society to re-define it.

Here is a short bio from her Ted Profile:

Aimee Mullins was born without fibular bones, and had both of her legs amputated below the knee when she was an infant. She learned to walk on prosthetics, then to run — competing at the national and international level as a champion sprinter, and setting world records at the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta. At Georgetown, where she double-majored in history and diplomacy, she became the first double amputee to compete in NCAA Division 1 track and field.

After school, Mullins did some modeling — including a legendary runway show for Alexander McQueen — and then turned to acting, appearing as the Leopard Queen in Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle. In 2008 she was the official Ambassador for the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.

She’s a passionate advocate for a new kind of thinking about prosthetics, and recently mentioned to an interviewer that she’s been looking closely at MIT’s in-development powered robotic ankle, “which I fully plan on having.”