Service-learning is an important piece of the interior design curriculum in the Department of Design and Merchandising at Colorado State University. In fall 2016, the Interior Design 256 CAD class, which included 41 students, completed the Historic American Building Survey for a historic Fort Collins home. Using newly acquired CAD skills, they worked with The Ponds neighborhood Homeowners Association to measure, draft, research and document the Paul Maxwell Rock House for potential placement on the historic registry.
Paul Maxwell Rock House
The Paul Maxwell Rock House is located at the northwest corner of Prospect and Overland Trail and dates from the late 1930s. Historic research was compiled from four sources and shared with the students: City of Fort Collins, Fort Collins Public Library, CSU Library and Paul Maxwell family members. From this data, students developed research documentation regarding the historic significance of the building to the community.
Students took site measurements of the home inside and out. Then they used their CAD skills to create a mini-set of construction documents that included site and floor plans, elevations and architectural details of the building. Research and historic photos gathered about the Paul Maxwell family and their ancestors were woven into the construction documents as space permitted.
“Students remarked that their study of a ‘founding family’ of Fort Collins developed an appreciation for the struggles of forging a living during that period of time,” said Stephanie Clemons, professor of interior design. “Appreciating historic roots of the community created new connections between the students and those living in Fort Collins. Student learning moved beyond classroom skills to understanding the importance of giving back to the community using design skills.”
The students were recognized for their project with the Exceptional Achievement in Service-Learning Student Award at Celebrate! CSU. The award recognizes a student or a student group for remarkable contributions in service-learning courses and/or community-based research and is awarded by the Service Integration Project.
“It was an honor to have my class nominated and selected for the Exceptional Achievement in Service-Learning Student Award,” said Courtney Bitzan, a student in the class. “To see something we worked so hard on be recognized and rewarded is especially significant to us! The HABS project taught me more than simply how to research and dimension a house. It showed me that a home is built of family roots and culture, not just tangible materials. I am so thankful that I could be a part of preserving a small piece of Fort Collins’ history.”
From a sustainable viewpoint, this Historic American Building Survey service-learning project has been conducted for several constituent groups for many years. For example, previous sophomore design CAD classes have documented the Museo de las Tres Colonias, John Romero 1927 private adobe brick home built from mud and straw, and the old garage first used on Harmony.