written by:
March 18, 2015
A class at Virginia Tech empowers future architects to build a prefab baseball fieldhouse from start to finish.
Sharon Fieldhouse in Clifton Forge, Virginia

The student-designed Sharon Fieldhouse opened last June after a year of concepting, community planning, and construction by 15 third-year architecture students. Building this structure was the first time the class tackled a project outside of an urban area. “It was in a pristine landscape, and the students tried to find a unifying, organizing element to fit into the environment,” says instructor Keith Zawistowski. “They made a linear incision, and aligned buildings along an axis, like a white line on the hillside.”

Courtesy of 
Jeff Goldberg
Originally appeared in Sharon Fieldhouse
1 / 8
Sharon Fieldhouse in Clifton Forge, Virginia

The students worked within an $118,000 budget to construct the 2,000-square-foot fieldhouse. One of the students, Ryan Myers, recalls their first impression of the field—an old trailer with flat tires selling concessions and a porta-potty—and thought they could do better. “There’s a whole section of the county where people have limited means, and kids would have to drive 30 minutes away to play in the neighboring town,” says teacher Marie Zawistowski. “This structure helps 400 kids in the local Little League.”

Courtesy of 
Jeff Goldberg
Originally appeared in Sharon Fieldhouse
2 / 8
Sharon Fieldhouse in Clifton Forge, Virginia

Organized east to west, the steel screen varies in density and supports an angled roof, providing shade without blocking the breeze. Students crafted the furniture out of white oak from a local sawmill, and utilized prefab construction methods to cut costs and speed up the project to meet their tight deadline. “It’s a great site on the side of a mountain in Appalachia looking out into this valley,” says Myers. "There’s all this context, but at the same time, it’s an open field, so there’s no context. We got to respond to how the site is being used.”

Courtesy of 
Jeff Goldberg
Originally appeared in Sharon Fieldhouse
3 / 8
Sharon Fieldhouse in Clifton Forge, Virginia

During game day, the varying width and spacing for the steel frames creates a spectrum of shadows that fan out across the lawn.

Courtesy of 
Jeff Goldberg
Originally appeared in Sharon Fieldhouse
4 / 8
Sharon Fieldhouse in Clifton Forge, Virginia

At one point, the student architects considered including a translucent glass façade, but budget realities and foul balls changed their minds. “The kids were playing games while we were constructing the fieldhouse,” says Myers. “We were a little worried about where a foul ball might go.”

Courtesy of 
Jeff Goldberg
Originally appeared in Sharon Fieldhouse
5 / 8
Sharon Fieldhouse in Clifton Forge, Virginia

Myers says the community had a positive reaction to the project and provided feedback during the entire process, from critiquing the 15 original proposals to opening day.

Courtesy of 
Jeff Goldberg
Originally appeared in Sharon Fieldhouse
6 / 8
Sharon Fieldhouse in Clifton Forge, Virginia

"As a student, to see how much effort goes into taking a project from drawings on a piece of paper to something made of steel, wood, and nails, you find out architecture has weight,” says Myers.  “It makes you think about things in a different way.” 

Courtesy of 
Jeff Goldberg
Originally appeared in Sharon Fieldhouse
7 / 8
Sharon Fieldhouse in Clifton Forge, Virginia

The current class at Virginia Tech will further develop the master plan for the site, which includes adding a press box and dugouts and continuing to turn the complex into a community resource. “It’s not just a matter of meeting budget, it’s about creative problem solving,” says Keith Zawistowski about the class. “They get a sense that architecture can solve everyday problems.”

Courtesy of 
Jeff Goldberg
Originally appeared in Sharon Fieldhouse
8 / 8
Sharon Fieldhouse in Clifton Forge, Virginia

The student-designed Sharon Fieldhouse opened last June after a year of concepting, community planning, and construction by 15 third-year architecture students. Building this structure was the first time the class tackled a project outside of an urban area. “It was in a pristine landscape, and the students tried to find a unifying, organizing element to fit into the environment,” says instructor Keith Zawistowski. “They made a linear incision, and aligned buildings along an axis, like a white line on the hillside.”

“For us, the most important thing is that a single group of students sees a project from beginning to fruition.” Virginia Tech architecture professors Keith and Marie Zawistowski met while working at the Rural Studio, the famed community architecture program at Auburn University, so it makes sense that when they became teachers themselves, their students would get the chance to engage in hands-on learning. The Sharon Fieldhouse, a minimalist structure set against the Appalachian highlands in Clifton Forge, Virginia, was the result of design/buildLAB, their prefab building class, which empowers students to engage with the community, create a design by consensus, and build a structure, all within a year. Dwell spoke with the Zawistowskis and student Ryan Myers about the class, building for the community, and planning for foul balls.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016