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Miami IF Design Studio and Food Studies Workshop students attended the Institute for Food Design Charette, Jan 29-30
Miami IF Design Studio and Food Studies Workshop students attended the Institute for Food Design Charette, Jan 29-30

CCA Students engage in Institute for Food Design Studio Charette

Envisioning the future for the Institute for Food

students at the IF design charetteThe Institute for Food (IF) Design Charette marked the beginning of the IF Design Studio, bringing together students from the disciplines of Architecture, Interior Design, and Graphic Design to build awareness and education for the new Institute for Food at Miami University.

Sixty students in the Food Studies Workshop and the IF Design Studio participated in a weekend of activities that took place Fri-Sat, January 29-30, 2016 at Alumni Hall on Miami’s campus. The focus of the 2-day charette was to create conversations about the Institute for Food at Miami, and to engage students in envisioning its future.

Weekend Events

The first day of the 2-day charette began with introductory remarks by Department of Architecture + Interior Design interim chair, Mary Rogero and co-directors of IF, Peggy Shaffer and Alfredo Huerta. Experts who presented on farming and history included Ken Stern, Program Coordinator, Our Harvest Research and Education Institute; Stephen Gordon, Director, The McGuffey Museum; Valerie E. Elliott, Manager, Smith Library of Regional History, The Lane Libraries; and Lauren Wulker, Farm Manager, Institute for Food, Miami University.

The presentations, intended to provide a platform for the development and mission of the Institute for Food at Miami, touched on a range of themes including sustainability, environment, history, culture, and community. Student presenters from the Food Studies Workshop, who spoke about "Food Studies, Farms, and Programs at Other Schools," asked participants involved in the charette to complete the phrase, "We believe . . . the Institute for Food . . ."

By Saturday morning, the students had assembled these collected statements into a pop-up exhibition in the Cage Gallery in Alumni Hall, which included an aerial view of the historic Austin-Magie Farm. The pop-up exhibition then served as a mind-map and point of reference as ten teams of nearly 60 students talked, designed, dreamed, drew, and rendered all day on Saturday to produce visions for the future Institute for Food farm at Miami. 

The IF Site

Prior to the weekend, student participants visited the Austin-Magie Farm, the designated IF site located near the intersection of Morning Sun and Somerville Roads located just outside of Oxford. 8 acres of the 35-acre farm has been dedicated to the Institute for Food, to begin farming for the project this spring.

collected trashThe visiting group collected seven bags of trash that was incorporated as part of the Cage Gallery exhibition as a way to mark the beginning of transformation from waste and degradation to growth and sustenance. 

IF Studio

In addition to providing a vehicle for establishing elements of design, branding, and graphic identity as part of building awareness for the Institute, the Design Studio will be assigned hypothetical projects intended to give students a broad and deep design experience. Eight teams of 6-7 students will compete this semester to produce the best physical and graphic designs and branding for the Institute for Food including the design of the landscape and physical infrastructure for the university organic vegetable production farm, in addition to a restaurant, food cart, and a living/learning community near Miami’s campus.

Ben Jacks, Associate Professor, Architecture + Interior Design created the IF Design Studio. He is accompanied in team teaching by Afsaneh Ardehali, Adjunct Instructor, Architecture + Interior Design, and Ray Claxton, Visiting Assistant Professor, Graphics.

The IF Design Studio

The Institute for Food (IF) Design Studio takes as its starting point the design of the landscape and physical infrastructure for a 35-acre university organic vegetable production farm, living/learning community, and experiential education center to be constructed on exceptionally fertile and historic agricultural land near campus. The farm will include organic produce fields with moveable hoop houses (for four-season organic leafy greens and vegetable production), native pollinator prairie and apiary, permaculture plantings, a produce processing building, a 50 student living-learning community, a demonstration kitchen, the restoration of the Austin-Magie house (a significant Federal style 1841 brick farmhouse on the National Register of Historic Places), designing for the client, IF—the Institute for Food. In addition to the farm, teams will establish graphic identity, design mobile food carts, and a Maple Street restaurant interior.


A three-year seed grant of $200,000 from the Miami University Provost Innovation & Interdisciplinary Fund supplemented by a gift from the Gross Hutton Family Foundation has provided initial start up funds to support preliminary site selection and development, curricular and research start up, and temporary staffing. Additional funding will be necessary in order to build and sustain the Institute for Food at Miami University.