atrium watercolor.jpg

VIRTUAL TOUR: A space to create

Central Point’s anticipated makerspace, which will offer room and equipment for students and community members to create, is growing in depth and detail as School District 6 and nonprofit partner D.I.R.T. look forward to a September start to construction.

Samantha Steele, superintendent of Central Point School District, said people who have shown up to outreach events or given feedback have been “overwhelmingly positive.”

“The industry leaders and community members that we’ve met with are very excited about the project,” she said.

The 77,000-square-foot facility that formerly housed Crater Iron, Inc. on a curve of Highway 99 will salute its industrial roots while pointing to the technological potential encapsulated in the space, according to lead architect Chris Brown, of Ashland-based Arkitek: Design & Architecture.

“It’s almost like we’re building an invisible bridge to technological and industrial processes in the future,” Brown said.

As a firm, Arkitek also incorporates the mindset of embracing digital technology throughout its own processes of designing and planning. Its sketches are multidimensional and varied, and the firm also produced a virtual walkthrough video that enables the viewer to tour the facility, illustrated in extraordinary detail.

“We really look toward the media industry — audio, visual,” Brown said.

Taneea Browning, executive director of D.I.R.T., which stands for Direct Involvement Recreation Teaching, approached Arkitek during the school district’s and nonprofit’s request for proposals for the project. She had seen the firm’s work in designing and constructing Southern Oregon University’s Thalden Pavilion, also called the “center for outrageous innovation,” unveiled in April.

“I was just like, ‘we’re doing this crazy project, it’s never really been done before. ...Would you be interested in submitting a proposal?’ ” Browning said.

Steele said that one part of Brown’s proposal that stood out was that he traveled to Portland to see ADX, which is the makerspace that helped inspire Crater Works. Incorporating ideas from ADX and the school district, Brown and the rest of his young firm began to sketch out the transformed space.

Updated planning materials show that among the facilities included at Crater Works are a commercial kitchen amenable to catering and other professional culinary work, a woodshop, metalshop, 3D shop for creating prototypes and space to host Central Point’s Saturday market.

While some plans are becoming clearer, others remain undetermined. The details of the planned membership model intended to drive revenue and make the makerspace available to the community, for example, are not yet nailed down.

“We don’t want to create a space that can’t sustain itself,” Browning said, adding that the project leaders hope to wean the makerspace off of state funding being used to launch it, including Measure 98 funds.

Browning said that the district and D.I.R.T. are still seeking community input through an online survey (available at to determine how memberships might be structured — and how much they might cost.

Steele added that the partners are seeking funding from foundations and other businesses.

She also said that community input has played a significant role in shaping the makerspace throughout the planning phase, in part because Brown and the Arkitek team have responded to what they’ve heard from local business owners, parents and others.

“I’m really astounded at the number of revisions that have happened based on community education,” she said.

Browning said that one concern community members reported at outreach events held during this summer was the availability of machines and spaces. She took the question to their consultant, Kelley Roy, who owns ADX.

“And she said, ‘we share,’ ” Browning said. “Which I thought was super relevant and important, because we all need to share and it doesn’t matter who you and what you are.”

“We want this space to truly serve the community and our kids,” Steele said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Kaylee Tornay at or 541-776-4497. Follow her on Twitter @ka_tornay.

Share This Story