What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Willie Alford – the YouthBuild Boston (YBB) graduate we interviewed last month – answered this question as we admired the nearly completed renovation that will transform the historic Centre Street fire house into the organization’s new headquarters.
“Working with others.”
That’s a big draw for Willie. The student crews “Learn from each other. The (YBB) staff and other students are great, which makes the job much better. A day doesn’t go by without laughing.”
It strikes me that there are strong parallels between the partnerships we build as architects and what Willie is talking about. Why am I so compelled to work? Why are my architect colleagues so driven?
There is certainly fulfillment from seeing a space we’ve designed swelled with people and activity. But it’s also the daily engagement with coworkers, folks with a stake in the project and creative collaborators in the improvisation of making architecture. And these partnerships carry on as the design is constructed.
Probing further we asked Willie what lessons he will carry to other pursuits. “The importance of responsibility to team members. Making it to the job every day. Being punctual. Being reliable.” This acquired attitude has given him confidence – as the camaraderie of working with a construction crew has brought him joy.
Check out more information about the exciting YouthBuild Boston program here: http://youthbuildboston.org/
“Like wow….seeing the beauty in it.”
At a recent visit to our construction site at 27 Centre Street in Roxbury –the renovation and transformation of an historic fire house into the new headquarters of YouthBuild Boston (YBB) – I was awed by the workmanship of the new interior framing and the evident pride of the construction crew. Built in large part by YBB students and graduates, I wanted to learn more about their experiences from the program: How has YBB impacted their lives? And in particular, what is it like to build the organization’s new home?
We talked with Willie Alford, 2011 YBB graduate, now himself supervising student crews at the project. Living independently, financial considerations brought him to YBB. Although Willie had no prior familiarity with the building trades, his love of construction came from the program – as a student he was “just learning to read a tape, and diving face first” into the experience.
And what has the 27 Centre Street project meant to Willie?
“It’s amazing to see the whole construction process from beginning to end, seeing it all come together. Like wow, this is the reason people like doing construction, seeing the beauty in it. And to know you had hands in it. It’s like watching a child grow up (that is if I had a child).”
Now Willie knows what it takes to build a project. “YBB will bring life to the neighborhood. And it has to be perfect because it will be YouthBuild Boston’s home!”
As a social art, architecture can create venues for human connections. The spaces we design, the public places we make inform the way people live and interact as a community. And the qualities of these places can speak to the nature of a community.
In the same way that the product of design (the architecture) can foster community engagement, the process of design (the making of architecture) can similarly connect people to their community. YouthBuild Boston brings this concept to life with “their hands-on programs for young people in Boston looking to improve the trajectory of their lives through the building trades.” We at Fennick McCredie Architecture, are the design partner in a collaboration with YouthBuild Boston to renovate an historic fire house in Roxbury, Massachusetts into their new headquarters. Student crews from the YouthBuild program are, in large part, building the project. Pride in construction is evident in the workmanship and precision of the interior framing. From the sidewalk you can feel the positive energy of teamwork among students, graduate workers, and mentor tradesmen – together building a new home for the organization, a valuable neighborhood resource and center, and a special place for the students to learn, grow and yes, connect.
Co-founding principal of the practice, Deborah Fennick, has been deeply involved in this project because of its important contribution to our City and our young people. Look out for Deborah’s blog post coming out this Friday where she interviews a recent graduate of YouthBuild Boston to learn about his experience building the new headquarters.