Global EngagementUC HomeAbout UCUC AcademicsUC AdmissionsUC AthleticsUC GlobalUC HealthUC LibrariesUC ResearchNews

News

UC Honors Students Begin Building A Home Designed for Special Needs


Honors students get started on a new building plan for a Habitat home. Its design was enhanced by University of Cincinnati architecture students to better accommodate people with disabilities.

Date: 9/8/2008 12:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover

UC ingot  

University of Cincinnati freshmen taking a service-learning Honors English course are getting to work two weeks before classes begin on Sept. 24. They won’t be using pens and notebooks for this part of their class project – they’ll be using hardhats, hammers and nails. The work by the Honors students takes place Sept. 9-13 and Sept. 16-20.

Honors students

Over the next two weeks, the Honors students will begin building on UC’s sixth university-wide partnership with Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity. Once classes begin and under the instruction of Beverly Brannan, a field service instructor for English & Comparative Literature (McMicken College of Arts & Sciences), the students will write about their experiences as they reflect on the meaning of community.

As the actual site for the new home is prepared in a new location at 3253 Wolseley Dr. in Avondale, the Honors students will be pre-framing the walls for the home on UC’s campus at the site where Sawyer Hall was formerly located. They will also volunteer at other Habitat sites around Cincinnati.

As construction gets underway during fall quarter, student volunteers from across the university will spend their Saturdays working at the site through the end of the academic year. The home will be formally dedicated in the spring.

UC’s sixth project with Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity holds additional student input into the actual design of the home, with the idea of designing a Habitat home to better accommodate families with disabilities. In a competition sponsored by Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity, the UC Center for Community Engagement, the UC Institute for Community Partnerships, the Office of the University Architect, the UC College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) and the UC Community Design Center, architecture students were challenged last year to incorporate attractive, effective, affordable designs into Habitat homes to accommodate people with disabilities.

The competition was created around the following criteria in designing such a home

  • Livability – The design should support the comfort of its occupants in ergonomics, thermal comfort, visual quality and accommodation.
  • Accessibility – The design should exhibit clear and innovative means of accommodating and serving a resident with a physical disability.
  • Sustainability – A design that includes reduced energy use and environmental impact.
  • Affordability – The design needed to stay within Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity’s philosophy of building simple, affordable housing.
  • Feasibility – The design needed to take into consideration that the home would be built by non-professional volunteers.
  • Sociability – The design needed to “fit” into the neighborhood.
  • Beauty – The design needed to be recognized for its formal integrity and aesthetic quality.

Honors students

The design plans were judged by a faculty member representing the School of Architecture and Interior Design, a representative of Habitat for Humanity and a community member with a disability. The committee selected two designs for development and implementation. One of the designs by a team of DAAP students – architecture major Zach Fein and interior design major Julie Fowler – will be implemented this fall. The students worked at the Community Design Center to develop the plans. A second design by architecture student Meghan Painter is to be implemented into the UC/Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity build in 2009.

Regular UC/Habitat volunteer Mike Benkert, a graduate student in architecture who earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture from UC last spring, helped introduce basic sustainable affordable design strategies into the project. The updates to the three-bedroom, one bath, ranch-style home include a handicapped-accessible concrete ramp that is integrated seamlessly into the landscape, an idea that is also going to be added to the home under construction next door. A slightly vaulted ceiling opens up the interior of the home. Overhangs on the south side of the home provide for additional shade in the summer and increased wall thickness will provide for additional insulation, lowering energy bills. The design also incorporates modified cabinets and a larger bathroom.

The UC Honors Program serves more than 1,800 UC students representing every undergraduate college on campus. Freshman volunteers in the service-learning English course represent majors in engineering, pre-nursing, theater design production and education. Honors coursework and out-of-the-classroom experiences emphasize the University Honors themes of community engagement, global studies, leadership, research and creative arts.

UC commits to the funding and to supplying the volunteers for its annual builds with Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity. The UC/Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity partnership is supported by Fifth Third Bank, the Messer Construction Company and UC Athletics with support from University Dining Services, which provides Saturday lunches for the volunteers. Every year, as many as 175 UC student, staff and faculty volunteers dedicate around 1,700 hours alongside a qualifying family to build a home.

UC/Cincinnati Habitat for Humanity Web site

Back to School Information

UC Opens Classes with Record Enrollment and Brightest Freshman Class

UC Celebrates Its Most Academically Talented Freshman Class

UC’s Rising Retention and Graduation Rates the Result of a Success Challenge

UC Introduces Sophomore Learning Communities

UC Clermont Announces New College Success Program

Get Details on the Big Move Back to Campus

New Living and Learning Community for First-Generation College Students

A New COMMunity House for Communication Students

Geography Partnership One of Three New International Agreements to Be Implemented at UC in 2008-09

College of Business Introduces New Major in Entrepreneurship/Family Business

College of Business Welcomes First Kolodzik Business Scholars

A&S Introduces New Undergraduate Major in Neuroscience

UC Offers New Master’s Degree in Engineering

College of Engineering Introduces Minor in Sustainable Urban Engineering

Reading Project Connects More Than 1,000 UC Freshmen

More Students and Pay for UC’s Growing Co-op Class

Campus Upgrades Underway as Part of the New Academic Year

Education on Crime Prevention Paying Off for Students

Updates on UC’s Emergency Text-Messaging Service

Parking Services Announces Changes for New Academic Year

At UC, Energy Savings Equals Economic Savings

Going Greener for Fall: UC’s Residential Restaurants Eliminate Food Trays

Solar House Serves as Summer Lab for Alternative-Energy Technologies

Bearcat Live! Presents Blessid Union of Souls

Princeton Review Places UC Among the Nation’s Best Universities