Architecture students build ‘People’s Porch’

People's Porch
Tuesday, January 7, 2020

As the fall semester came to a close, Marc Manack, associate professor of architecture, and students in his class “Good Fast Cheap” worked to bring a community’s vision to life.

On a small plot of land off Tuckaseegee Road, “The People’s Porch” was completed. This public gathering space on Charlotte’s west side 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, Manack and professors Nadia Anderson 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 an AIA Charlotte member and founding principal of the design firm SILO AR+D) led the design of 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," said Catherine Monroe, an architect at Housing Studio who completed a 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."