April 12, 2019 Landscape Architecture Students Give Back to Local Bike Nonprofit

Signage created by Landscape Architecture students for local nonprofit DreamBikes

Students in the Landscape Architecture program have partnered with local nonprofit DreamBikes to volunteer their time and design knowledge to design signage for the DreamBikes shop and investigate repurposing nearby land.

DreamBikes places bike shops in low to medium income neighborhoods to provide job training to teenagers and promote cycling in the local community. The goal for the organization is to provide these young adults with knowledge and practical experience to be able to move forward. The organization teaches them how to repair bikes, employs them in the DreamBikes shop to develop their customer service skills and provides support for their employees’ advancement.

Natalie McCarthy, 3rd-year, worked with the group to design and create three signs for the DreamBikes sales floor. The purpose of the signs is to educate the student employees and customers about different types of bikes and their uses.

McCarthy worked closely with Mitchell Connell, the assistant manager at DreamBikes, to create and decide on the right designs. Fernando Turpin, 3rd- year, also helped assemble the signs after they had been created.

The designs were created in the Fab Lab using the 3-axis abrasive water-jet cutter, a powerful machine that uses water to transport garnet (sharp sand) to cut a wide range of materials. With Craig Gillam, digital fabrication supervisor at the Fab Lab, and Nick Stawinski, woodshop supervisor at the Fab Lab, McCarthy was able to determine the best methods and materials for the signs.

“I loved working with DreamBikes because I got a chance to participate in Knoxville’s culture and to be a small part of their impressive mission,” McCarty said. “It was also beneficial to gain experience working with third party collaborators, and it was great working on a ‘real world’ project with people as passionate as the group at DreamBikes.”

In addition, 2nd-year students in Andrew Madl’s materials and construction class are creating proposals for how to develop a small piece of land adjacent to the DreamBikes store.

The students address physical and chemical properties of materials as well as how materials evolve with natural and artificial interactions in the space. For example, they must consider how weather affects chosen materials and how human use affects the structure.

The purpose of the exercise is to explore how materials and construction are used in creating structures and changing under-utilized urban spaces, like the lot next to DreamBikes.