Return to Headlines

Designing a Ski Lodge

Ski Lodge DesignA Closer Look at the Design Process – September 5, 2023 

When it comes to the design process, there is no limit to what our creative students can dream up for their clients. Our Drafting & Design Technology program offers our students unique opportunities to work collaboratively using their vocational training to solve complex, real-world challenges in new and exciting ways.

Just ask our Drafting & Design Technology seniors, Thays De Assis of Milford, Bradley Lyon of Upton, Joseph Hutchinson, Gradie Sanford, and Emily Wildfeuer, all of Northbridge. They will tell you how they've provided non-profit organizations with architectural design concepts for construction projects, such as a chapel design project and, just recently, a ski lodge.

The New England Disabled Sports (NEDS) Board and Grant Committee representatives, impressed by our students' previous projects, called on them to discuss what it might take to design plans for a fully accessible multiuse ski lodge that would provide year-round adaptive sport instruction to adults and children with physical and cognitive disabilities. Our students were eager to meet with them, learn more about NEDS, and understand the project goals during an initial on-campus visit in late January.

"The meeting was insightful," said Bradley. "They provided us with estimates for the total square footage of a proposed property in New Hampshire."

"The proposed ski lodge & resort would include an assisted living space for athletes with physical limitations and their families," said Joseph. "Initially, they did not want a standard elevator, but they did provide us with an option for a foot-operated elevator. Therefore, we have considered using it as we worked on various multi-floor plans with alternative ideas for elevators, looking at escalators and circular or multi-tiered ramps for height and accessibility."

"Not everyone can envision exactly what they like, want, or need when designing a multiuse building," explained Drafting & Design Technology Instructor Jim Aukstikalnis. "In my experience, most people need to see a visual representation or preliminary design concepts to help them think about what they want to achieve."

Therefore, Mr. Aukstikalnis encouraged his students to pool their talents, put their ideas on paper, and share initial concept designs with the client. The students explained this process helps them work with the client and redefine what they need based on feedback.

At the client's request, the students explained that their concept designs would include 3-D renderings for a building with amenities such as a kitchen, dining area, restrooms, mudroom, and storage space for skiers and snowboarders, as well as an open-concept meeting space and overnight accommodations with small kitchenettes.

During the concept design process, Bradley explained the sky is the limit regarding creative ability. He said, "Dreaming up a design without boundaries, restrictions, or guidelines is fun. However, it is challenging to take the conceptual design plans and adapt them to produce a functional blueprint.

Gradie worked on the kitchen and dining area. He said, "I designed an open concept for the dining room with more tables vs. booths so that the seating is fully accessible for the athletes with disabilities."

Emily and Thays worked together on the lodging area. "We looked at incorporating a kitchenette, bedroom, bathroom, and storage in a fully accessible living space," said Emily. "We wanted plenty of space to store ski and wheelchair equipment while meeting ADA standard codes for functionality and esthetics."

"Our prior work on the chapel design project gave us an understanding and an appreciation of how to be open to incorporating new ideas and accommodating a client's needs in producing a complete building design," said Thays. "In the process, we realized that some requests were not feasible. Although a client could have a fixed idea, in the end, we had to change mindsets and manage expectations." They all agreed that having many conversations with their client about building codes, functionality, and design is important to producing a quality project.

"The students at BVT impressed us with their presentation skills and willingness to collaborate thoughtfully," said Claudine DeJoie-Stanton, NEDS Board and Grant Committee member. "We are excited to see how the students take their ideas for a fully accessible ski lodge from concept drawings to a prototype. It is an exciting process and a perfect learning experience for all."