Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

Yestermorrow Design/Build School


Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
3 Comments » | Published in Affordable Housing, Architecture, Community Serivce, Design Books, Design Press, Green Design  |  3 Comments

I first heard of Yestermorrow Design/Build School via Karrie Jacobs’ The Perfect $100,000 House.*  It sounded so great to me, then I forgot all about it until I saw it mentioned in Metropolis recently. I used to know how to draft but I’ve always sucked in woodshop and I sure don’t know how to build – it sounds like a great experience – a diverse group hanging out at summer design/build camp in Vermont. During the courses, students learn all about creating their own space, how to render it as an architect would, and partake in building projects at the same time. There are 1-3 day workshops, 1 week courses, and 2 week courses. If you’ve ever dreamed about architecture or building and didn’t know where to start, this is a great place to dip in a toe before you take the plunge.*

Here’s their philosophy:

Yestermorrow’s courses are specifically designed to demystify the designing and building processes using hands-on, experiential learning to teach students the art and wisdom of good design and the skill and savvy of enduring craftsmanship as a single, integrated process.

This creative process offers students unique insight into the oftentimes disparate worlds of the architect and the builder. Architects are routinely trained without any building experience that might inform their designs, and builders are trained to execute without a sense of the overarching purpose or design of the project.

Combining design and building offers numerous advantages and promotes the creation of intentional and inspired buildings and communities that enhance our world. From the professional design/builder to the do-it-yourself design/build homeowner, every designer should know how to build and every builder should know how to design. This philosophy sets Yestermorrow apart from other educational institutions.

Something about their vibe reminds me of Sambo’s Rural Studio, probably because most of their built works benefit communities.

* I really enjoyed Jacobs’ book when I read it, it was a quest for a place to call home set in that American On the Road kind of format, which is ironic, but it works. I found myself longing for a few things: 1) PHOTOGRAPHS of the places she visited. The few sketches in the book were charming, but an architecture critic, no matter how good her written descriptions are, should know that her readers are thirsty for images 2) For Jacobs to repeat her journey in 2008. Prefab architecture has become much more prevalent and costs have gone way down in the few years since she started her research. At the time she wrote the book, she was on the cutting edge of the current prefab movement. 3) For Jacobs to actually (SPOILER ALERT!)  find the perfect $100,000 house and freaking buy it/build it and live in it already! Maybe it was the Keroac-ian love of the road that kept her from putting down roots.

Another note: After reading about her Yestermorrow experience, I was pretty shocked that someone who was such a well known architecture critic (NYTimes, Dwell, H&G…she rocks) didn’t even know how to draft or how to begin designing a space. With so many precedents in her brain to find inspiration from, she really didn’t even know where to begin. I know that’s the norm, that art critics aren’t Picasso, or music critics Stevie Wonder, but it still surprised me. On the flip side, a lot of architects can’t write or critique worth a damn and they seem completely unaware of this as they wax unpoetically in a bunch of archi-speak mumbo-jumbo. Anyway, then it hit me that the architecture critic knows how to EXPERIENCE and APPRECIATE the space, and that is what counts. Just sharing my catharsis with you – sometimes I’m a little slow to understand these things!

all photos from yestermorrow.org.

About Becky:
Hi, I'm Becky. I live in Atlanta. Besides acting as the Editorial Director here on Hatch, you can find me talking design over at Houzz. Make me happy — leave a comment!

About Becky

has written 1620 post in this blog.

Hi, I'm Becky. I live in Atlanta. Besides acting as the Editorial Director here on Hatch, you can find me talking design over at Houzz. Make me happy — leave a comment!



  1. Bob Ferris says:

    July 2nd, 2008 at 3:40 am (#)

    Hey Becky,

    Thanks for the plug, more students are always welcome at Yestermorrow. Folks interested in the school and what we teach (and how we teach it) can alway visit our website, but I would also suggest looking at our blog at:


    This will give potential students a better idea of who we are and what we are all about. There is also a special gallery section on right of the page that will class-by-class show you what you’ll likely be doing whether it is a design, permaculture, stained glass, or carpentry class.

    Come on up to Vermont we are here all year round.

    Bob Ferris
    Executive Director
    Yestermorrow Design/Build School

  2. kitpollard says:

    July 2nd, 2008 at 9:33 am (#)

    What a totally interesting realization! That’s a great way to look at things. I’ll have to remind myself of that, too, the next time I get frustrated about not being artsy myself.

    You know that part at the end of High Fidelty, when Laura explains to Rob that it’s such a big deal that he’s producing the Kinky Wizards demo because he’s a “professional critic” who’s actually creating something?

    That part always gets me – sometimes it’s so frustrating to be able to research and write and think about art and design without actually having the talent to CREATE it!

  3. Becky says:

    July 2nd, 2008 at 2:09 pm (#)

    Kit, that’s what’s so cool about programs like this – you find out that creating can be learned! It was one of my favorite sections in Karrie Jacobs’ book!

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