Student Portfolio: form meets function

FORM MEETS FUNCTION (this project is currently in progress)

In the spring of 2015, I was awarded a UAB Teaching Innovation & Development Grant through the Center for Teaching and Learning to develop a project called Form Meets Function, functional bicycle racks that also serve as public art. I implemented the project in my fall 2016 Sculpture Fabrication course by introducing these public artworks from initial research and idea building to fabrication and installation as a team-based assignment. Through my previous experience as the fabrication coordinator of sculpture student commissions at Herron School of Art & Design, I had noticed that it is easy for a single student to become overwhelmed by the amount of organization and physical labor of a large public artwork. So, I decided to make the project a team assignment with 2-3 students per rack.

Given UAB’s progression from a commuter university to a more traditional urban campus, with the recent addition of more dormitories, quads and a student center, I think that promoting a healthier life-style both physically and environmentally would be a forward-thinking advancement. In this course, the students worked in groups to create a series of uniquely designed bicycle racks throughout the campus. The students first researched existing public sculptures and bicycle racks; photographed, sketched, and took site measurements of possible rack locations; built scale models of the racks in their proposed sites; researched material costs and created budgets; and designed illustrations with concepts that were all presented to a review committee composed of representatives from the School of Engineering, Occupational Health & Safety, Services & Grounds, Architects, and the Office of Sustainability as well as representatives from a local bike coop, the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Birmingham Collector’s Circle.

Once designs were refined after the review committee’s suggestions, the students began fabrication. They made adjustments to their designs due to the feedback from the review committee and began ordering supplies. They met with UAB’s Occupational Health & Safety and UAB’s Project, Design, and Construction throughout the project to make sure that all safety concerns were being resolved in the initial construction and an in-progress meeting with the review committee was organized in the sculpture facilities to better assist the students with last-minute design changes. The completed bicycle racks were to be finished by mid-October 2016, however, the students’ designs were much more involved and ambitious that I had originally expected when the project was proposed. Since the class had to move along with other assignments, the students and I worked to complete the fabrication of the racks outside of scheduled class times and during the weekends. Once 2 of the 3 racks were completed, we took the racks to the powder coaters to be finished. The 2 racks were completely finished at the beginning of summer and we have just installed them in their permanent locations. Fabrication on the third rack will be completed by the end of this fall due to its scale and complicated modular components. I anticipate to have the final rack ready for installation by early spring.