Striking the Epicenter in Rural America
Below is an excerpt from Epicenter’s introduction, followed by a few images of their work and their proposed projects:
The Epicenter is a community-based housing and business resource center, instigating economic progress and creating decent shelter in the town of Green River in the desert of southeast Utah. It is a part of a larger umbrella non-profit organization, which serves the town with a myriad of unduplicated social services including affordable rental housing, a Boys & Girls Club, a soup kitchen, and a thrift store. Epicenter is a comprehensive creative studio. We are young, enthusiastic designers.
The Epicenter Crew is a studio-of-sorts currently made up of graduates of architecture, graphic design, industrial design, sociology, and theology. Expertise is valued in any allied design field, or in anyone simply willing to sweat and wanting to build something with their hands. In this rural town, the Epicenter has an opportunity to engage, collaborate with, and learn from a community that the profession has chosen not to serve. Current projects include the renovation of a 104-year-old building on Broadway, developing affordable housing through Habitat for Humanity and USDA, Rural Development, holding a music, art, and film festival, acting as a liaison for the design and construction of a new community center (designed by Marlon Blackwell Architects), provoking the idea of a river walk as an aesthetic and functional asset for the town, applying for grants and involving the community in the construction of a skate park, collaborating to build volunteer housing, and partnering with the University of Utah’s College of Architecture + Planning to infuse expertise and student-led enthusiasm to the town.
We see ourselves as part of a change of tone occurring in the design professions, led by students and emerging professionals who want more than what the professions have settled for: working unapologetically for the socio-economic elite. We are crafting an alternative model of practice, one that can accommodate our fervent desire to collaborate, to provided “shelter for the soul,” and to emphasize place and circumstance. Our insistence for these ideals has led us to a radical mission taken on by “citizen architects” (and citizen designers, more broadly).