Background and Participants
In January of 2008, the Reverend Moser-Feesche contacted Ecker Architekten with the intent to build a chapel. He had no funding, held no property, and did not have the support of his con-gregation. He did however, have a specific idea about what this building should be and where it should be located.
Dea Ecker received her Master degree in Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). Her long-time friend and former school colleague, Frank Flury, is a Professor at IIT, and teaches an Advanced Studio for Design-Build Projects at the College of Architecture in Chicago. After discussing the potential of a Design-Build project with the Reverend, Ms. Ecker contacted Prof. Flury. The project constellation seemed to fit. Flury’s studio has designed and built diverse projects in the U.S. that have had a positive social impact. This was the first viable possibility for the students at IIT to execute an international project.
In December of 2008, Prof. Flury visited Boedigheim to examine the site and to discuss the project with the Reverend. After this initial meeting project responsibilities were agreed upon: Flury would guide the design and construction of the building, Ecker Architekten would work with local officials and obtain necessary building permits, and Reverend Moser-Feesche would secure property rights and assemble the community for the volunteer work necessary to complete the project.
In January 2009 Flury introduced the project to the Design-Build curriculum and received an enthusiastic response. Over the next 3 months, 12 students developed three design alternatives. In March 2009, these projects were personally presented to the governing municipality of Buchen and the citizens of Boedigheim. A After lengthy discussions two projects were chosen for further development, with Prof. Flury ultimately responsible for the feasibility of a final proposal. Armed with a donation of lumber from the city of Buchen, the “Professor from Chi-cago” and the “Reverend with an idea” asked for the trust and help of the townspeople to realize the project. With commitments from the local blacksmith, carpenter, sawmill owner, and the farmer (whose field the chapel was to be built upon), the town of Boedigheim agreed to implement the project.
Tasks were subsequently delegated. Prof. Flury developed the design with his students to ensure completed construction in a single summer semester. From March through May, the Design-Build Studio and Ecker Architekten were in constant contact. E-mail, AutoCAD, and Skype teleconferencing were the tools used to translate a student project designed in an American university into a set of working documents that met or exceeded German construction standards. Dea Ecker contacted the local officials and prepared drawings to obtain the necessary permits in time for the groundbreaking scheduled for early June. The Reverend Moser-Feesche and the community were responsible for the acquisition of property rights and for the collection and coordination of accomodations for the students during the construction phase.
The student group arrived in Germany during the first week of June. Despite an unusually rainy summer, the project progressed smoothly. With the help of countless volunteers, the chapel was constructed in just 8 weeks. Over 400 people witnessed the official benediction on 25 July, 2009.