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As a student at Washington University’s Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design I was involved in a design-build studio where, over the course of one semester, we designed and constructed a public arts pavilion for Grand Center, an arts and entertainment district in Saint Louis, Missouri. I learned many things from this experience. Designing for a classroom review and designing for construction are different things. Placing and finishing concrete is extremely difficult. I’m not incredibly fast at tying rebar, and laying concrete block takes a great deal of talent. The most valuable lesson learned, though, was the power of resourcefulness.

The budget for the project was very small. Our ideas were not. The bridge between the two was our ability to network and build relationships with companies willing to donate resources and services.

We connected with the apprenticeship programs of the local Cement Mason’s and Iron Worker’s unions and convinced them to send their students and instructors to work with us onsite. We visited the plant of a local block manufacturer and got them to donate all of the material for the walls (this was before I knew tilt-up). We met with a local ready mix company who agreed to donate the concrete and found a concrete pumper willing to help us out. In the process, we learned more than we ever could have learned with a larger budget.

As I work with the team of extraordinary companies pouring their hearts into the 2015 TCA Community Project in New Jersey, I am thankful for this lesson. With each of the community projects we have done, there have been obstacles. Sometimes financial, sometimes schedule and occasionally political. At many bumps in the road, the approach could have been to give in, to bend, to compromise. Instead, we, as a team, have been resourceful.

We have identified and rallied a diverse collection of organizations and individuals willing to give of their hard-earned time and resources. We have connected companies and people who before had no idea of each other’s offerings and expertise. We have matched common interests between unexpected partners. The result will be something for us all to share with each other and the community as a whole. Knowing the power of resourcefulness, I am not surprised at what we are able to accomplish. I am, however, continuously inspired by the generosity and goodwill of those who say yes.

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TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.