Tag Archives: outdoor education

Designing Space Update (4/27): Arrillaga Outoor Ed and Rec Center

What is special about this place, and the learning that happens in it?  

The new Arrillaga Outdoor Education and Recreation Center will represent a big change for outdoor education at Stanford because it will physically bring together several separate (and confusingly redundant) programs that have been running distinctly for decades. Recently, these programs have merged under the organizational name Stanford Outdoors (SO), but because they do not share faculty, facilities, or much else, the affiliation is pretty much in name only. Within the new Arrillaga Center, the programs will continue to maintain their distinct identities–because emotions run high around this stuff like you wouldn’t believe–but the programs will have more opportunity to share resources and interact with one another (in what we’re hoping is a synergistic way), which could ultimately shape the character of outdoor education at Stanford.

Stanford Outdoor Education (SOE) is the program I’m interning with and is therefore the program I know best. Housed within the Athletics Department, it currently contains the following sub-programs: Stanford Pre-Orientation Trips (SPOT), academic and field-based courses designed to train outdoor leaders (e.g., Athletics 405, Athletics 415), the current Stanford Climbing Wall (SCW), Stanford Outdoor Gear (SOG) rental facility, and Stanford Wilderness Medicine (SWiM).

Other outdoor programs now housed under the banner of Stanford Outdoors include the following: the Outdoor Education Program (OEP), the Redwood Outdoor Club, Stanford Alpine Club, Stanford Kayak Club, Stanford Outdoor Outreach Program (SOOP), the Surf Club, and the Windsurfing Club. No, I’m not even making this up. All these things exist, and they’re all separate.

So what is in theory “special” about this place is that it will give a permanent home to a range of mostly student- or instructor-run, poorly funded programs that have limped along for years with hardly any institutional support. In addition to being a physical gathering place, the building will be a symbol of University support for outdoor programs, signaling a willingness to invest in that direction.

What “aha’s” or insights help to constrain your design?

This coming Wednesday, I will meet with Chris Pelchat, the director of SOE, to look at the space and talk about the specific constraints I’ll be working with. Off the top of my head, I can imagine the following things might need to be considered:
* All the groups will need to feel “at home” in the Center, even though they will not all get equal square footage.
* Outdoor education is messy. We’ll need lots of space to “explode” gear (i.e., laying it out to examine), and those spaces will need to be easily cleaned.
* We’ll need lots of storage. We will have to be able to store everything from Camalots to sea kayaks to skis to fuel to rations.
* The fuel storage area will need to be secure.
* The rations area will need to be clean, organized, and easy to navigate.
* We’ll need informal gathering spaces that encourage students to come hang out and do work in the Center. The students keep these organizations alive.


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