University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky
The inaugural year of the PCI Concrete Studio at the University of Kentucky College of Design was one of many challenges but amazing opportunities. The PCI Concrete Studio was the only upper-level studio that met in person throughout the Fall and Spring semesters; thanks to the generous partnership with the PCI Foundation and Gate Precast (Winchester, KY), we were able to offer a hands-on experience of designing and making that the students would have otherwise missed out on due to the global pandemic. Our community embedded studio in Winchester, KY provided a critical opportunity for students to engage with a local community and partners while designing in precast concrete.
To support this design engagement, we introduced 15 architecture students in the Fall and 7 graduate School of Interiors students in the Spring to a digitally driven process of making with precast concrete. In the Fall semester, architecture students designed a series of benches that were to be made in precast concrete and placed in parks across the community of Winchester, KY. In the Spring, interiors students created an immersive installation in a storefront space in Downtown Winchester, KY. This installation relied on the making of precast concrete sculptures and provided foundational knowledge for concrete studios in the future.
Beyond the 2 PCI supported studios, the College of Design has developed curriculum that is now used in our Structures and Materials/Methods classes for all students in the School of Architecture. This will culminate every year in “Concrete Week”, an intensive lecture and workshop series that investigates various aspects of designing and making with precast concrete and will occur every Fall in the College (tentatively scheduled for the week of September 27th, 2021).