Design initiative aids rural communities

Carpenter Hall Gallery exhibit displays old building rehabilitation project of students in the community


ZACH RUBIO | The Daily Evergreen

RCDI intern Kelli Young, left, talks about project locations at the School of Design and Construction gallery opening in Carpenter Hall.

MORGAN LESTER, Evergreen reporter

Chatter and an air of curiosity filled the first floor of Carpenter Hall on Monday evening as design students gathered — a new gallery was opening.

The new exhibition, one of the last of this school year, covers the Rural Communities Design Initiative, a statewide organization spearheaded by WSU faculty and students.

The initiative, often referred to as RCDI, visits rural communities to find ways to take old buildings and breathe life into them again, or to facilitate new construction within these areas.

“We have partnered with small communities to do a variety of real-world design problems,” interior design professor Robert Kirkac said. “[We] help envision and clarify their issues … and take that to design professionals who can help them execute these designs.”

As evidenced by the photographs in the posters and presentation placards that dotted the mobile walls of the gallery, the initiative exists to develop solutions using the feedback of communities. It tries to help them find grants and other ways to subsidize the cost of construction and implementation.

From bus stops in Pullman, to community and visitors’ centers, to rock houses turned bed-and-breakfasts, students collaborate on a variety of projects.

“I really benefitted from being able to interact with these communities, getting to have one-on-one conversations, and help them get their ideas out,” said Krisandrah Crall, a graduate architecture student who has been with the initiative since 2015. “You get to have a lot of one-on-one experiences with community members … and have to be able to articulate your ideas and present concepts you’ve come up with.”

The students’ work is on display in Carpenter Hall Gallery. It will remain open to the public until April 5.