DCC Architecture Students Get Hands-on Experience By Doing Good

Oct. 1, 2021--For Alan Espinosa-Lopez, there is nothing more important than having a home – or as he refers to it, “a sacred place of refuge.” Which is how he found himself in the DCC architecture program back in fall of 2017. 

"I was really into being artistic in high school,” he said. “And then when I found out that through a career like architecture, I could combine my creative side with my interest in advocating for and helping those less fortunate, I knew that this was where I wanted to be. Being in DCC’s architecture program really brought all those things together for me.” 

And so, it was in spring 2018 that Espinosa-Lopez, who is now an architecture student at Alfred State College, found himself working with his classmates on a series of designs for Habitat for Humanity. 

“It’s really important for students to have real-life experiences and these kinds of projects give them those opportunities,” said David Freeman, assistant professor and program chair of Architectural Technology and Construction Management Technology. “They get to apply what they’re learning in the classroom and best of all, get involved in projects for the public good.” 

And Freeman certainly “walks the talk.” As a long-time Habitat for Humanity lead, he regularly works with both the Dutchess and Ulster county chapters. Since 1996, he has contributed his time and talent to over 30 housing projects. The project which Alan Espinosa-Lopez and his classmates spent time on is one of them.  

"The students’ project was to design a series of houses for a parcel of land in the Village of Wappingers,” said Freeman. “Three of their designs moved forward, with the first build taking place over the 2020-21 year. We fully expect to begin construction on the other two this fall.” 

But Habitat for Humanity is not the only organization for which Freeman tries to engage his students.   

Every year, he and colleagues in the Architectural Technology and Construction Management Technology programs actively seek out other opportunities with a host of local organizations. Past projects include the visitor centers located at the entrances to the Walkway over the Hudson and the Nature Center at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls.  

Closer to home, DCC students will be invited to submit ideas for a new pavilion at the Louis Greenspan Day Care Center. The competition will begin this fall and will be open to all DCC architecture students.  

“For me, the most important thing that I want students to know is that there are so many ways they can give back to their communities,” said Freeman. “And they can do so now as students and well into their careers and beyond. Architects don’t ever retire!”