Dunwoody Architecture students help create 8 affordable housing projects at Search for Shelter Design Charrette

Photo of Aaron McCauley-Aburto, Kyle Huberty, and Gianna Madison

From L to R: Aaron McCauley-Aburto, Kyle Huberty and Gianna Madison.

Dunwoody Architecture students Aaron McCauley-Aburto, Kyle Huberty, and Gianna Madison,  joined nearly 60 other students and professionals for a rigorous three-day, pro bono brainstorm at the annual Search for Shelter Design Charrette Feb 19-21.

The goal of the Charrette—organized by industry partner American Institute of Architects (AIA)—is to bring together architects, interior designers, landscapers, students, and affordable housing representatives to help generate housing solutions for the homeless.

Despite Search for Shelter beginning over 3 decades ago, AIA representatives say homelessness continues to be a problem throughout the nation—and right here in Minnesota.

The Dunwoody students volunteered their time and expertise to assist in the project, which could help participating affordable housing organizations to move forward with eight different developments.

The entire Search for Shelter event lasted around 42 hours.

For both the students and the future residents, however, the impact will last much longer.

Dunwoody students humbled by event

“Everyone participating at the event really came together to work for a common goal—one that didn’t have a paycheck attached to it,” Madison said. “It made it a very sincere, untainted and humbling experience.”

Huberty agreed: “I think the appearance of architecture is that sometimes it’s for only the 1% who can afford an architect to design a home–and that is somewhat a reality of the industry. And so, I enjoy when opportunities like this come along where we can serve people who couldn’t normally afford it,” he said.

Hands-on, technical education proved invaluable at event

When asked if a Dunwoody education helped prepare the students for the project, the answer “yes” was unanimous. The group agreed that had they not been receiving a technical education, actively participating in an event of this magnitude would have been nearly impossible.

“Our technical education allowed us to become valuable assets within the group, and to make meaningful contributions to the group—especially as relatively inexperienced students,” McCauley-Aburto said.

Huberty agreed explaining that because of his Dunwoody education, he felt confident in working and designing with the other practicing architects in the room—and in some instances, even felt on the same level of expertise as them.

“I think the impression with a technical school is that it limits your creativity,” Huberty said. “People think since you are focusing on the software, that that gets in the way of the actual artistic expression.”

“But I think it is the opposite,” he continued. “We have been able to get our technical foundation first so that we can jump right into the artistic expression–because we know our tools are sufficient to get us there.”

Students hope to continue with Search for Shelter, affordable housing

The Dunwoody students hope to stay involved with the organization, their projects, and the affordable housing movement. In fact, some of the students are even considering specializing in affordable housing work upon graduation.

And while the students don’t know their exact career plans just yet, the group agreed that no matter where life takes them, they are just looking to “do something meaningful.”

Madison is set to graduate in May 2018. Huberty and McCauley-Aburto follow in May 2019.

Learn more about Dunwoody Architecture.