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All four students are master’s degree candidates in The Design School in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU with backgrounds ranging from English to interior design and design studies. They have been working with Mesa Urban Garden (MUG) founders and board members, city officials and in-kind donors under the guidance of their former faculty member Milagros Zingoni, a lecturer in The Design School who volunteers with Mesa nonprofit organizations.
“The community had a basic plan for the garden, and they asked Milagros for help completing it,” said Mosman. “They had already constructed large brick columns for the pavilion and needed a roof structure overhead with the main function of providing shade.”
In addition to shade, the roof designed by the students uses steel beams to collect rainwater and channel it to a 2,296-gallon cistern on the ground for irrigating garden plots during summer. The ASU team also included a 3-kilowatt photovoltaic system atop the roof using solar panels to power screens that can enclose the pavilion, folding up or down for both shade and security. Small lights embedded in the screens also rely on solar power.
“Whenever we could, we tried to incorporate double functionality in our design,” said Snittjer.
That paid off when the students presented their structural designs to the City of Mesa’s engineering staff. Through its collaboration, the team presented a complete design portfolio, including a structural analysis that verified the pavilion’s fitness for use.
“Jordan spent a lot of time on those calculations and had them double-checked by one of our former professors who is a licensed structural engineer,” said Mosman. “I think the city staff expected us to just have a vague idea of its readiness, and instead, they were blown away.”
Beneath the roof, the pavilion is expected to serve several Mesa Urban Garden community activities, such as yoga classes and cooking demonstrations. A new restaurant scheduled to open next to the garden plans to partner in the cooking classes and include seasonal specials on its menu using ingredients it grows in the garden.
“I dealt with some aspects of MUG not yet finished, such as what is needed for activities happening in the pavilion,” explained Rothove. “I designed the bar-top counters and kitchen space which includes a sink, grill top and storage.”
In addition, the team intends to cover one of the pavilion’s pillars with aluminum etched plaques that acknowledge Mesa Urban Garden volunteers and donors. At the other end of the garden, Vacek took on the assignment of creating a reflection space adjacent to a wood-fired oven and storage building that act as visual barriers to compost and soils.
"My goal was to get the plans done, but funding is still needed to build what I designed,” he said. “My undergraduate degree is in sustainability, so my contributions focused on ways to build and conserve at the same time.”
When they approached ASU faculty, Mesa Urban Garden board member David Crummey said they asked them to produce a sustainable, low-cost design that would require limited maintenance.
“The students went above and beyond in all areas,” he said. “They provided a beautiful, simple solution that is still high-quality, striking and dynamic.”
For the students, the exposure to real projects and real life was invaluable, Zingoni explained.
“It’s made them stronger,” she said. “The idea of helping the community takes them beyond their studio education and it’s taught them not to be afraid to speak up and share their ideas.”
“This experience has been so hands-on and realistic that it’s priceless,” agreed Snittjer. “What MUG is doing is pretty impressive, and it’s been really cool to help out with that.”
To learn more about the community garden, visit mesaurbangarden.com. For information on The Design School, go to design.asu.edu.