By: Aaron Neal
This semester I have the opportunity to be part of a design project out at Touch of Nature – a large area of campgrounds owned by Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Our job as designers is to create a space along a newly formed trail to serve as a final destination point along the trail before it loops back on itself. This project is part of an independent study that includes four other students. The concept of the class is to treat this project as a true project with a real site, a real budget, and a real client – Touch of Nature’s staff.
At the very beginning of this course it felt very professional. Us students came forward to propose creating this independent study, and went through the process of forming a class. This included coming up with a list of goals we wanted to accomplish in the class, and a timeline of when we would accomplish those goals. Once we started the class we had our first meeting with the client. This simple step felt close to a real firm project to me because we set the meeting up ourselves and met the client ourselves too without our professor. This made us feel like professionals that were ready for our careers after school. The meeting went well, and we asked many questions and learned a lot about what expectations the client has of us.
The next step we took in the class was to go out to the site again on our own to take measurements and analyze the site further. It was a lot of fun to drive out into the woods and experience the site on our own without anyone strictly guiding us. This provided an opportunity for us to explore the site and how we react to it. Going out to the site added another layer of the realism of the project. As the project continues I am looking forward to more site visits and actually presenting our initial designs to the client. Hopefully this project will turn out nice and that our built campsite will create a space that lasts many years.