Erik Connell ’18 gets a head start on designing public spaces
When the 5M Project is built around 5th and Mission Streets in the next few years, it will include nearly 50,000 square feet of open space. With luck, part of that area will have been designed by Erik Connell ’18 and his team of seven fellow high school students.
Last June 8 through 26, Connell took part in the Build San Francisco Summer Design Institute, a program aimed at helping high school students learn about architecture, design and urban development.
At the program’s headquarters in the Chronicle Building, set on the edge of the 5M Project, Connell and his colleagues learned 3D modeling through programs such as AutoCAD and other Autodesk programs.
Students spent time studying other outdoor space, including the pedestrian mall outside the Old Mint, just across the street from the Chronicle Building.
“Office workers need to spend time outside, where they can relax and rejuvenate,” said Connell. “Exposure to the outdoors allows them to be healthier and more productive.”
In creating a space for these workers, Connell’s team designed a hillside with benches and a large awning to provide shade and protection from rain
Connell and one other student presented to stakeholders in the 5M Project, trying to sell them on their ideas. The team chose Connell, as he was articulate as well as the oldest member and the only city resident in the program.
Connell hopes to study architecture in college and work on providing city residents with more affordable housing options. “It’s tragic that people work hard yet live in substandard housing or far from the city,” he noted.
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