October 30, 2014

Touch of Nature amphitheater event is Nov. 1

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- An amphitheater that overlooks Little Grassy Lake and was designed and built by Southern Illinois University Carbondale architecture and design students will officially open Saturday, Nov. 1. 

The 1,500-square-foot project by students in the spring 2014 Building Technology 1 class features an entry and stage with seating for about 120 people. Already the location for a few weddings and other events since its completion in late May, the stage is three or times larger than its predecessor, said Chad Schwartz, an assistant instructor in the School of Architecture.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews can attend the ceremony. For more information on the student’s project, contact Chad Schwartz, assistant instructor in the School of Architecture, at 453-1228 or chad.schwartz@siu.edu. Information about Touch of Nature is available at 618/453-1121.

 The ribbon cutting is set for 1 p.m. at the Touch of Nature Environmental Center, about eight miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road. 

The class, comprised of 45 students and three graduate assistants, worked on issues including site analysis, design idea submissions, built mockups, site demolition and construction. Students in the class are in the second year of the architecture and interior design programs, where a focus is showing the importance of service learning and communicating with clients, Schwartz said. 

“The students start to make a conscious relationship between the lines they are drawing and what actually gets built,” Schwartz said.  “Translating lines from paper to built work is one of the founding principles of design-build.” 

This was the first large-scale project one of the classes attempted, Schwartz said.  The class also built a bench halfway down the hill to the amphitheater. 

“This turned out incredibly well for a student-designed project. It was very challenging and a learning experience in doing a community-based project on a much larger scale,” Schwartz said. 

The Illinois Laborers and Contractors Joint Apprentice and Training Program assisted with the concrete and asphalt installation, and Martha Clarke and Touch of Nature physical plant staff assisted in the construction. 

Walter Wendler, director of the School of Architecture, said the project fits with Touch of Nature’s history. 

“Touch of Nature was originally established with the intent of it being tightly knit into the fabric of the academic programs at SIU, that was President Morris’s vision,” he said.  “We hope this program of thinking and doing led by Professor Schwartz solidifies that bold vision for the two most prominent resources of Southern Illinois -- natural beauty and the ability of the people of Southern Illinois to make things happen.”