As the semester comes to a close, Associate Professor of Architecture Marc Manack and students in his “Good Fast Cheap” class have been working on a small plot of land on Tuckaseegee Road to bring a community’s vision to life. “The People’s Porch,” a public gathering space on Charlotte’s west side, is scheduled for completion on Friday, December 20, just before the holidays begin.
“The People’s Porch” has its roots in two workshops funded by a grant through the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Charlotte) and led by the West Side Community Land Trust, which brought west side residents together with members from AIA Charlotte and faculty and students from the School of Architecture. At the first workshop, held in October 2018, professors Nadia Anderson, Marc Manack, and Peter Wong engaged the group in a conversation about affordable housing. In the second workshop, in April 2019, the residents expressed a desire for something that could be realized quickly and build excitement in the neighborhood. They decided on “The People’s Porch.”
Over the summer, Manack (who is also an AIA Charlotte member and founding principal of the design firm SILO AR+D) led the design the structure, which has both outdoor and indoor gathering space. The West Side Community Land Trust secured a "CLT 250" grant from the City of Charlotte for its construction; local UNC Charlotte alumni-run firm Housing Studio also chipped in some funds. A land trust board member owns the land on Tuckaseegee Road and has loaned it for this use.
With SILO AR+D as architects of record, Manack took the lead in the construction and brought the project into his “Good Fast Cheap” graduate course. He and the students started building in mid-November.
"To be able to have the experience to be on site and help construct what you've been studying and drawing and modeling provides so much educational opportunity," says Catherine Monroe, an architect at Housing Studio who received her Master of Architecture from UNC Charlotte in 2000 and, as former AIA Charlotte president, initiated the partnership with the West Side Community Land Trust. "Some students had never picked up a hammer before."
See the "The People's Porch" progress below.