In January, URBANbuild students arrive on site for their first day of class to find an empty lot with a shipping container full of tools stationed adjacent to the property. Then they start digging. With careful instruction, the group sets string lines denoting spread footing boundaries, picks up their shovels, and spends several days digging trenches to receive foundation concrete. Once the dig is complete, students place and tie the required network of steel reinforcing bar. Concrete is delivered in a mixing truck, and students guide the truck’s hose through the trenches and spread concrete with shovels until the trenches are full and the concrete is spread to a shiny, level surface. Once the spread footing has dried and set, students mix bags of quick-setting concrete by hand to cement CMU piers in place at designated locations along the spread footing. Steel reinforcing bar set into cement that fills the piers will receive sill beams when students proceed to framing.

“I’ve learned that there are many different ways to make something in the world, and how to evaluate those options. I think we (students, staff, and faculty) have more to learn from the community than we have to teach them.”

– Emilie Taylor Welty, Former URBANbuild project manager