Sawhorse Revolution – Estelita’s Kiosk

Estelita’s Kiosk: A Tiny Culture Space dreamed, designed, and built by students

We’re thrilled to join forces with Sawhorse Revolution, a Seattle-based nonprofit positively impacting the lives (and potential careers!) of local high school students. The organization’s mission: to foster confident, community-oriented youth through the power of making. Sawhorse Revolution programs teach students to think like designers, arm them with carpentry and building skills, then emphasize a hands-on approach as they help their ideas come to life on real community projects.

Of participating youth, half are women, two thirds are students of color, and more than three quarters come from low income neighborhoods. The projects teach practical skills, grant a dignified working experience, and even yield better performance in school. Overseen by volunteer AEC professionals, students design structures for neighboring nonprofits, everything from tree forts to tiny homes. Or, in this case, their biggest ever in-city project and Seattle’s first tiny cultural space, Estelita’s Kiosk.

Why Estelita’s Kiosk?

In 2018, Sawhorse Revolution partnered with Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture to issue an RFP encouraging local nonprofits and arts organizations to submit their ideas for a “Tiny Culture Space.” The city of Seattle donated a vacant lot in Capitol Hill, giving students free creative reign to design and construct an “inspired, community-oriented structure.” The all-female Design-Build team ultimately selected Estelita’s Library as the client for the site. Located in Beacon Hill, Estelita’s Library is home to an assortment of social justice literature, housing thousands of books and the nation’s largest collection of Black Panther newspapers. The student-designed kiosk will offer a satellite home for the collection.

Mentorship of experienced AEC professionals

Coughlin Porter Lundeen structural engineer, Kelly Lowe recently became a mentor in Sawhorse’s Womxn Design-Build program, the all-female group responsible for Estelita’s Kiosk. Currently, women make up just nine percent of the U.S. construction workforce — and most of these positions are administrative roles. Pervasive misconceptions and barriers that hinder female involvement in physical or technical pursuits is precisely what Sawhorse aims to tackle in assembling this all-female Design-Build team.

Mentorship of experienced AEC professionals is a cornerstone of Sawhorse Revolution’s philosophy, as it arms these future architects, engineers, and builders with grounded skills in design and construction.

“If our girls just walked away with anything from this, [I hope] one is the sense that any profession is open to them, even if they need to work a little bit at it, because there might be doors that aren’t as easy to open, but they really can walk into any profession in any place in the world. They have the skills to be there.” 

Sarah Smith, Executive Director of Sawhorse Revolution (KTS article).

Introduced to the project by Katherine Ranieri of Olson Kundig, who is spearheading the project’s architectural design, Kelly is helping permit and construct the library. Sawhorse Revolution’s nearly all-female staff has led this group of students on an enriching journey. The team’s first task is acquiring permitting and land-use fees, and Kelly worked closely with the group to facilitate the process, guiding the team through the intricacies of permitting and document production. Construction permit, land-use fees, electrical, mechanical…check! The students are seeing STEM applications come alive outside the classroom and getting a true feel for the world of AEC.

“There’s a unique kind of knowledge that comes through hands on experience. It’s the physical discovery of a confidence grounded in skill and self-reliance.” sawhorservolution.org 

Completely designed and constructed by students, the 200-square-foot library will offer a new satellite home for Estelita’s library collection. Not only does the partnership support students interested in AEC, it creates opportunities for Seattleites to gather, educate, and exchange ideas about matters of social justice, race, class, and politics. “I just love the idea of building community through knowledge.” – Edwin Lindo, Founder & Owner of Estelita’s Library.

“The new library will be in a cozy and accessible space aimed to honor revolutionary and courageous people of past and present. With custom, moveable bleacher-seats, multiple entrances, and a special display case for the Black Panther newspapers, our students’ design will be a new hub for equity work in Seattle.” Sawhorse Revolution

The project received a grant from the state, and an additional $5,000+ through Seattle’s annual GiveBIG 2019 fundraiser, to help permit and construct the library. Dependent on after-school efforts of the students, the volunteer time of professionals, and material and monetary donations – the endeavor has inspired many in the community to get involved. Some of the companies involved include: Olson Kundig, LMN Architects, JAS Design Build, Dunn Lumber, Simpson, Valley Electric, Reider Facades, Metis Construction, Huus Construction, and Schultz Miller.

The kiosk is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2019. To learn more about the Estelita Kiosk Project or to get involved, visit sawhorserevolution.org or contact admin@sawhorservolution.org or volunteer@sawhorserevolution.org.

“We thank you from the bottom of our sawdusty hearts.”

– The Sawhorse Revolution Team