Video: Asheville Design Center students build teaching space at Burton Street Peace Garden

It’s been a busy summer at the Burton Street Peace Garden in West Asheville so far. The garden, first developed in 2002 as a response to the Iraq War, has been getting a new addition courtesy of the Asheville Design Center and a group of students from around the region. A new outdoor classroom space is being built on the Peace Garden’s lot as part of a 10-week design-build studio summer course organized by the design center, and taken by students from around the region majoring in relevant fields such as architecture, landscape architecture, and construction management.

“It’s basically a way to get students out to translate their [design] ideas into a built project,” reports class instructor Luke Perry. Students spent the first half of the course collaborating with each other on the design of the structure – making drawings, computer models, and a physical model – as well as site analysis, and obtaining a building permit for the location selected.

After that, it was time to turn the students’ ideas into something a bit more physical; it was time to build. Construction began the first weekend in July, and since then things have come along quickly.

Nearly completed now, the open-air structure has been built primarily with found, scavenged, and donated materials, with new materials only being used when necessary for structural reasons. Structural engineer Ed Medlock of Medlock & Associates Engineering, PA has been assisting the students in making sure the building in making sure the building is structurally sound.

The decision to use found and scavenged materials was in keeping with the philosophy behind the Burton Street Peace Garden. Safi Mahaba, who co-owns the property with her husband DeWayne Barton, says that whenever possible, the garden always uses found material to repurpose. “We’ve kind of nurtured a larger vision for this space the whole time. It started with the garden,” she reveals.

Once finished, the space will serve as a classroom and gathering space for groups of up to 15 people, with the building acting as a teaching example on how people use resources, and how those resources can be repurposed. “The way that DeWayne as an artist with kids is to first have them identify the issues that are important to them in the community, and then have them create something related to that topic,” says Mahaba. She and Barton would also like to see the space become a community gathering spot for a variety of purposes. “We’d love to see a drumming group get started for some of the local youth…maybe some dancing, lots of different things,” she adds.

The building, dubbed “Mystic Dreams” after a scavenged storefront sign bound for the landfill, is expected to be completed in time for an opening and dedication to be held on August 6 at 6 p.m. The event will feature food, drinks, and a live D.J. Students from the design-build studio class will be on hand to discuss their work on the project.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.