By Marcy Stamper
As their teacher and design professionals watched, two Liberty Bell High School students spun a wooden warehouse around on their computer monitors, extended the roof line and deftly shifted ramps and railings from one side of the building to another.
David Haley and Tyler Krumme, students in Liberty Bell High School’s design tech class, are working with TwispWorks to design a deck for the campus’ north warehouse, where renovations will start next year.
TwispWorks project manager Tori Karpenko gave Haley and Krumme the basic parameters for the project, including access for people and vehicles, ways to accommodate music and dance performances, and a budget of less than $14,000. The deck also has to meet accessibility standards for people with disabilities, and have a bouncy surface that will suit dancers.
Haley, a junior, and Krumme, a sophomore, have worked independently on their designs, devising different solutions for building an entry, ramp placement, and ways to handle the snow load. The final design will be chosen by TwispWorks staff and construction advisers, and may combine features of both students’ ideas.
The students have spent several months on the project with Karpenko and design technology and construction teacher Bob Wilson, but they had a chance last week to try out their initial concepts on two local design professionals, architect Margo Peterson-Aspholm of Balance Associates and designer/draftsman Jeff Kovitz of Muehlebach Drafting Service.
Peterson-Aspholm and Kovitz acknowledged that the students have faced some tough design constraints. The steep slope of the warehouse roof makes it a challenge to extend the roof far enough to keep snow off the walkway and still have adequate headroom. “It’s a really tough spot. Because of the big roof there, you can’t get around doing a bunch of shoveling,” said Kovitz.
Still, because the roof has numerous valleys that trap snow, Peterson-Aspholm said that the steep slope could be an advantage. “My experience is that valleys are always a problem with ice dams. The steepness here is in your favor” to help shed snow, she said.
The design team focused on both the aesthetics and practicality of the students’ concepts and compared wood and other materials for the deck. “A grate is a neat idea to let snow and water go through,” said Peterson-Aspholm, although she noted that it could pose problems for people in wheelchairs or stiletto heels.
Although Haley has built several structures, he had never done a project like this before. “My friends and I just build stuff — we built a house in the backyard, using plywood and other stuff we had around, that was big enough to fit a couch, a TV and a speaker system,” he said.
While it was frustrating to have to make so many changes to meet building codes, Krumme said he was pleased with the way it looked as the design took shape.
Krumme said the deck project had helped him to get an idea of what he wants to do when he gets out of school — he is leaning toward industrial design or architecture. Haley is also contemplating a career as an architect.
The deck will be part of a major renovation of the warehouse, which will house KTRT-FM radio (“The Root”), a ceramics studio, a print and book arts studio, and a classroom when complete. The warehouse, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939, was the hub of firefighting operations when TwispWorks was the headquarters of the Twisp Ranger District.
Wilson’s classes have worked on TwispWorks projects before. Their first exercise was a floor plan for the welding shop, and last year they produced elevation drawings for the “as-built” conditions of the north warehouse, double-checking the measurements against their computer models.
A new Liberty Bell class in construction being offered next year will help build the deck and a kitchenette in the building, working with contractors at TwispWorks, said Wilson.
Students in the design tech class learn a half-dozen software programs for architecture, design and 3D modeling and then pursue independent projects. Haley and Krumme chose to take on the North Warehouse deck, while classmates are working on a range of industrial and 3D design projects, said Wilson.
“It’s been a great experience for these kids to have real-life experience with architects and to apply design software to a project. It’s going to really manifest and this is going to be awesome,” said Wilson.