The Mobile Literacy Arts Bus (MLAB) is an artist-run, renovated recreational vehicle that exists as a flexible space open to community members’ proposals for alternative educational and cultural programming.

MLAB is the collaborative effort of the 2007-2008 Social Sculpture class at Syracuse University, comprised of 10 art and architecture students and lead by artist and Director of Community Initiatives in the Visual Arts of Syracuse University, Marion Wilson. Our mission was to transform a used, 1984 Recreational Vehicle Bus into a Mobile Literacy and Arts Bus for use by the Syracuse City School District and the greater Syracuse Community. MLAB serves as a physical manifestation of Syracuse University’s Scholarship in Action initiative, by pairing University resources with community needs in an attempt to address the staggering drop out rates in the Syracuse City School District High Schools. Through the School of Education at Syracuse University, incredible curricula that bridge photography, poetry and literacy currently exist within the public schools-- however due to a crisis of space, the schools don't always have the space or resources to house it. MLAB is this space. The bus serves as a mobile classroom, digital photo lab, gallery space, and community center. As a team, we did it all: demolition, design, and construction.

MLAB is made possible from the generous support of the School of Education at Syracuse University and Entitiative.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Week 4: David A. Harris, Process Analyst.

Last Week, David A. Harris, Process Analyst, attended our class to lend us some perspective. In addition to his expertise in processes, Mr. Harris also has a passion for design and remodeling vehicles. We're enthusiastic to have Mr. Harris on our team!

These are the notes he took during our discussion and design pitches:

September 20, 2007
Vincent, Marco, Julia, Roslyn, Sam, Nicolette, Yun, Jessica, Zach, Marion, and David

Class Notes
10/25 PR event for MLAB. Valesky and Pomco will be attending? Need platform and stairs built next to RV.

Main concepts and discussion points from design presentations

• Miss White: notion of a substitute teacher coming to the school. Provides a way to personalize or anthropomorphize the RV.
• Use the walls as functional space.
• Create flexibility…provide options.
• Block off drivers area.
• Keep as much of the space as open as possible.
• Create transformable surfaces… multi-use…multi-functional
• Possibility of using sliding gallery wall surfaces to cover shelving.
• Think about how to engage the space, change the learning culture, change how the student’s are taught, change the culture of respect, change the creative culture, and change the community.
• Do something before you enter the space (e.g. shoes off, write a message, project a message, etc.)
• RV as extension of the school building.
• Use of closed/secure modular storage. Keep contents from moving around when RV is being driven.

Design concerns
• Need to better understand classroom programming.
• Concern about windows and lighting within RV. Need to block out light for computer use and projection.
• Concern about over programming the RV
• Concern about handicap/wheelchair accessibility.
• Access/egress when used as gallery space.

Focus Group Discussion
Focus group will be held Thursday, September 27th. (3:00 p.m.)
The agenda might look something like this:
• Description of MLAB project
• Walk through the RV as-is so participants get a feel for the space.
• Focus group discussion around class programming and requirements gathering.
• Involve participants in postcard/RV design.
• Class designs with participants

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