Design/Build Studio Creates Community Space for Puerto Rican Town



By Olivia Dimmer

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Design/Build Studio Creates Community Space for Puerto Rican Town


Frank Flury, Design/Build Studio Educator: When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last year, I was thinking it would be the perfect project for my Design/Build Studio. So one of our faculty members on campus introduced me to Jose Lopez, the director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center. We had many conversations and talked about Puerto Rico and the opportunities we have to get something built. So, finally, we found a community east of San Juan, which is called Loíza, and it’s a very interesting small community with lots of need, so that’s where we decided we are going to. The community was in need of a recreational place so we decided to build a small pavilion where they can do outdoor activities such as yoga classes or use it as an outdoor gym or just they can use it as a gathering space. Students also designed and built a small barbecue so they can hold small birthday parties or they can do some family reunions.

Christina Mikhail (ARCH 5th Year): As an architecture student it was a really great experience to learn and understand the construction process. I felt it was a really great blessing to have to help the community and to help them come together and communicate with them and have fun with them. It was just a really great experience overall.

Milliam Carrasquillo Cuevas, Puerto Rico Resident: This project changed us. And I believe it was in a very opportune time. It was time that we opened our doors to outside people who had the best intentions to help us out. With Frank's arrival, we were able to beautify the community in the sense that while Frank and the students worked I formed a brigade to clean the streets, paint the sidewalks and posts, and we also helped paint houses. Slowly it started to gain back its color and a sense of community. This project is going to help us out a lot. We now have a space that is for us and belongs to us, where we can come together and sit, yell, kick back, exercise. Because Frank and the students made this possible for us.