Students aid ‘Extreme Makeover’ of Bastrop home razed by wildfire

A group of Texas A&M environmental design students are contributing expertise and elbow grease to a weeklong flurry of construction orchestrated by the hit TV show “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” that will result in a brand new home for a Bastrop County family whose home was lost during the Labor Day wildfires.

The student volunteers, most enrolled in a design studio led by Logan Wagner, assistant professor of architecture, met with a “Makeover” representative Dec. 2 at the college’s Architecture Ranch to discuss the formidable Dec. 7–14 build.

“I’m so excited about this,” said student Estefania Santacruz, as the group listened to contractor Tim Burch discuss the project and its demanding 12-hour work shifts incorporating an army of community and professional volunteers.

“We normally don’t get the chance to help someone in such a huge way,” said Katelynn Parker of Stephenville another Aggie volunteer from Wagner’s studio.

The students’ involvement in the project resulted from Wagner’s encounter with the TV show’s producers during a building expo held for the fire-ravaged community at the Lost Pines Resort near Bastrop. Impressed by Wagner’s demonstration of natural, fire-resistant building materials, such as rammed earth, the producers invited him and his students to join the project.

“Sometimes designers are disconnected from the building process,” said Wagner. “This project will provide an opportunity for our students see how a project actually gets built. They’ll get to touch the materials, see how they come together, and learn what’s compatible, what isn’t.”

“It will be a real-world experience,” added student Hugo Ochoa of El Paso.

Wagner’s studio has continued work this fall on an experimental structure made of natural and recycled materials at the Texas A&M Riverside Campus, which was begun by his students last spring.

posted December 5, 2011