by Geoff Larcom, Published December 20, 2013
YPSILANTI – Residents at the Hikone public housing neighborhood in Ann Arbor now have a special new outdoor gathering spot to socialize and relax, courtesy of Eastern Michigan University students.
A group of EMU construction management majors recently completed a sturdy gazebo and ramp structure at the housing community, which is located on the southeast side of Ann Arbor, on Packard Road across from Buhr Park.
Hikone, which houses 29 families, is one of the Ann Arbor Housing Commission’s public housing communities. It’s surrounded by Rose and Mary Doyle parks. In addition to a community vegetable garden, Hikone has a greenhouse, two playgrounds and a fitness trail.
The gazebo, which was dedicated in a ceremony Dec. 13, is the third collaboration between the housing commission and Eastern Michigan. EMU students previously built a similar outdoor structure at the Baxter-Green community in northwest Ann Arbor, and designed furniture for a staff lounge at the Miller Manor housing complex on Miller Road in Ann Arbor’s near west side.
“We are really excited about the continued collaboration between EMU and the Ann Arbor Housing Commission,” said Jennifer Hall, executive director of the commission. “I look forward to working with Eastern students in the future on a variety of projects.”
The Hikone structure arose from a class in the College of Technology created by Jim Stein, a professor of construction management, and professor Shinming Shyu, coordinator of Eastern’s interior design program.
The course involved consultation with the client, the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, and talks with the tenants at Hikone along with the gazebo project’s design and construction.
The dedication event included about 20 students who comprise the Eastern Constructors Club. Students ranged from traditional first- and second-year students to mid-career construction professionals seeking a degree.
Also attending were with representatives from the Hikone Community Center, EMU and the housing commission. Stein cut the ribbon along with Ronald Woods, an EMU professor of African American studies who serves as President of The Ann Arbor Housing Commission Board of Directors.
Stein said the students greatly enjoyed working in the Hikone community, which made them feel welcome and aware of the satisfaction derived from community service.
He noted that despite his being the teacher of the class, the skill and leadership of the students made him into more of a simple facilitator for the project. The housing commission paid for the materials, while Eastern supplied the know-how and manpower.
“It is gratifying to see you undertaking this work as a part of your own professional development, and as a contribution to the residents of Hikone and the Ann Arbor Housing Commission,” Woods told the students. “I encourage you to see this as the start of a life-long journey of civic service and of engagement with the pulse of the greater community. It is so needed.”
The gazebo has access via stairs and a ramp. It is situated between the Hikone Community Center and the housing units by the parking lot, facing the pond created by the damming of adjacent Malletts Creek.