Site A rural and agricultural landscape in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains in Fleischmanns, N.Y.

Program A complex of buildings to serve as a rural outreach center for at-risk urban youth, planned as part of a series of workshops that engaged the youth audience.

Solution Steven Mankouche and Matthew Schulte played to their audience, a group of New York City kids with no background in architecture, by developing a series of games to engage them in the design process for the community group Project Reach’s new rural retreat center. The Ann Arbor, Mich.–based architects created card games that they used to introduce architectural ideas to the children through workshops. The first game visualized specific locations for architectural interventions on the chosen site in the Catskill Mountains. The second featured cards inscribed with basic architectural units (such as platforms and walls of various lengths), to engage the children with the idea of creating structures within the rural context. And a third workshop gathered input for specific interventions into four existing structures that would transform them into usable space for the group. Mankouche and Schulte created plans, based off of this input, for revitalizing the four structures, which will be built out as a retreat center for the New York–based organization.

“It’s a way of engaging people who have no association with architecture whatsoever with the built environment,” juror Joan Soranno said. Steven Ehrlich called The Farm “one of the best things we’ve seen,” and juror John Frane saw the project as “a repurposing of architecture—using architecture as a device for rehabilitating and healing these kids. It’s about the whole process, not just the end result.”

The Farm: Gaming Strategies for Empowering Marginalized Youth
Location  Fleischmanns, N.Y.
Client  Project Reach
Architect  Steven Mankouche and Matthew Schulte, Ann Arbor, Mich.—Steven Mankouche, Matthew Schulte (principals); Charles Veneklase, Melinda Rouse, Jono Sturt, Jonathan LeJune, Claire Sheridan, Abigail Murray, Andrew Thompson, Richard Turskey, Julie Simpson (design team)
Project Reach Staff & Youth Collaborators  Don Kao (director); Cassey Alex, Linda Baijnauth, Erin Barber, Toussaint Bonaparte, Darius Burroughs, Yiman Chen, Man Ting Cheung, Fay Chiang, Brian Dawson, Juliana Gutierrez, Edward Lee, Catherine McCormack, Hassan Muhammad, Blaine Pickens, Lateef Wearrien, Shardae Wright
Special Thanks  Rick Sturtz, Jeffery Small, Abigail Murray, Imad Mouawad, Fred Beemer, Barbara Brown, Nicholas Chesla; Steelcase—Mark Stefurak and Miranda Horan
Project Funding  University of Michigan, Arts of Citizenship; University of Michigan, Office of the Vice-President for Research; Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning
Size  6,200 square feet
Cost  $930,000