Lao Highland Association
3925 South Bozeman Street
South Seattle, WA


The Spring 2008 Design/Build studio began the quarter working on two projects for the non-profit gardening cooperative Seattle Tilth: an outdoor teaching pavilion and a tool shed. The teaching pavilion needed to accommodate thirty people, shed its roof in 3-5 years, and serve as a focal point in the garden while still blending in with its surroundings. A small, whimsical yet functional, tool shed was also commissioned for Tilth’s children’s garden.

The design began in earnest the second week of classes. After approval of the designs by Tilth staff, site work began as well as off-site prefabrication of trusses for the pavilion. Concrete work on site progressed slowly. Framing for the tool shed flew together. By week seven of the quarter, the concrete was nearly complete and the studio was on track to finish ahead of schedule. Then word came to stop all work on site.

The eighth week of the quarter found the studio mired in Seattle Parks bureaucracy. A heroic effort ensued to bring all construction documents up to par for the engineer’s inspection. Two weeks and several meetings later, Seattle Tilth was no longer the Design/Build studio’s client.

The class rallied and found a new client in record time: The Lao Highlands Association. The Lao enthusiastically adopted the design of our pavilion structure and found a perfect spot for it outside their community hall (located at the end of the cul-de-sac, west of Martin Luther King Jr. Way South & South Bozeman Street in Seattle). Since all of the trusses for the pavilion had already been prefabricated earlier in the quarter, the class was optimistic about being able to finish the project by the end of the quarter. However, a minimal amount of redesign work needed to be done to figure out how the framed structure would sit on the ground. With one week to go until the dedication deadline, the class kept the design simple with Sonotubes and no built-in seating.

The final build was a scramble in dreary weather conditions…and fast! The class hit the site on Saturday, June 7, and by Wednesday, June 11, the structure was completed. Thankfully the sun came out for the dedication party, where the Lao Highlands Association provided a fabulous feast and many thanks. After a whirlwind quarter of design, building, redesign, and more building, the 2008 Design/Build studio wrapped up as a success.