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.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

schedule for coming week and FLOOR

the sanded floor looks scrumptious - silky, beautiful. great job.
the schedule is as follows for helpers:
saturday noon - meet at comart to prep floor
sat 2pm - first coat of stain
sunday 2pm -meet for second coat of stain
tuesday 3:30-6pm - install finished floor in bus.

We are soliciting and receiving outside help from Creative Writing Dept and Architecture school. Hours and tasks can be coordinated thru Marion and Zach. Let us know if you need help on something specific. Jessica is leading up the cushion team, Roslyn and Samantha's mother have offerred help when needed.
Yun Pei will lead up the ceiling team.
David Harris is coordinating with Julia and Nicolette on lighting.
Please post schedules, updates and needs on the blog so we can keep this rolling towards the April finish line.
I am also in the next two weeks having very important financial and programming conversations about MLAB. Please let me know if any of you in particular are interested in being a part of this conversation.
Keep up the amazing work!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Anybody there???


Put in about 14 hours on the floor today, and managed to make a ton of progress on it. Here's a shot from 8:30am and then two more from 10:30pm. The rough sanding is about 99% complete - polyurethaning starts tomorrow!!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Wow floor crew!!!!

I just got in touch with a sewing machine. So lets figure out how we're getting these
cushions together! I haven't seen it (the machine) yet, so I'm not sure what sort of
shape its in but we'll see what happens!


The floor is nearing completion. It looks amazing!

Plans are in the works to sand it on Tuesday, and finish it later this week.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Aggregate floor

Now imagine this floor next to those walls.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bus Progress

Hey all,

We made excellent progress on the bus this past week! Here are some photos of what the bus looked like as of this morning.

Above 24" is installed and just requires a couple tweaks to achieve a perfect fit. Below 24" is framed - I'll be making the drawings required to CNC the panels in the next 24 hours or so. More of the same.

It looks very similar to our initial renderings, which is promising...

Sliding window panel in action - the sill etc. will get trimmed w/ some of the aggregate wood flooring strips we've been making.
Right side of bus - we broke up the 4x8 panels into smaller sheets in an attempt to fit the scale of the space a little better. I think it works pretty well...
Window slider detail.
The next project - by the middle of next week we hope to have a completed door (latch, trim, weatherstripping etc.) The pink foam to the left of the door will get covered by a piece of the porcelain steel.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hello everyone! It's great to be back and we have certainly jumped right in to get back to work this week. I just wanted to update everyone on some of the things that have been going on. Zach, Vince and others can feel free to fill in the things I missed but, in the last week we have been able to move the circuit board for the electrical to it's new and permanent location in the cab of the RV. We will be working on designing an enclosure for that electrical panel in the coming weeks. Everything has been rewired accordingly and all of the electrical to the bus minus one outlet is now in working order! I also reinstalled the permanent heater/AC in the rear of the bus and got that working so that if we happen to see the snow fly (which I am sure we will!) we will be able to keep busy and warm at the same time. Other great news... our handicapped accessible ramp we ordered from Roll-A-Ramp has come in and Marion and I will be unpacking that and putting it together tomorrow morning. I am personally quite excited about that since it makes things feel like the holidays all over again!
Some other things going on include finishing framing on the door which was continued after a trip or two to our area hardware stores to find the metal pieces, snapping chalk lines on the bus floor to begin marking out the locations of the front storage cabinet, further installation of the lapdesk and storage system around the lower 24" of the bus, and of course more gluing together of the wooden floor boards (which we are hopefully nearing completion on!) Considering all that this week has become quite a valuable jumpstart to the upcoming semester and the completion of this project!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Project Pressures

If the pressure of time wasn't enough, I just got an email from our student representatives on the focus group wondering if the project was still going through. I've hopefully assured them that we're planning on an April opening and promised them an invitation to whatever celebratory event we have. So looks like we're being held to our completion date! But the best thing is that the students we're serving through MLAB really have taken interest in it and think its awesome too!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

As its moved into a new year I feel compelled to sign in with an update.

First let me assure you all that just because we haven't been updating does not mean that we have not be busy. In fact, it means quite the opposite. In the last month and a half each member of our team has seen more wood and wood glue that ever thought possible. Happily, though, this has resulted in a beautiful almost complete butcher-block-like wooden floor surface. Major work continued through finals week and beyond. As we all need a break from even the best of projects, we'll only be returning a week early to start again on our beloved M-Lab.

Thanks to Vince and Matt, we have the beginnings of our handicap accessible door with off-set, sexy hinge that makes the word liminality come to mind- see pictures from previous post. The framework of our printer/generally useful cabinet is also in the process. Nicolette has been our electri-goddess placing our breaker box in the most amazing places. The Posner-Harmon certified wood machine team has been cutting up our long wooden strips and making them into the frame of a wall inserted holder for our hidden pillow-pull out floor cushion/writing tablets. Yun-Pei also offers his hand to this project and many others helping us fabricate models for our intense poofed plastic ceiling tiles. Marco has insured that our bus is hole-free and each metal pan is tight. Julia and I have been busy making aesthetically pleasing 8 ft. long and 3.25 inch wide planks for floor use and Arjan and David Harris have been giving us whatever time they can spare from their day jobs. And of course, Zach and Marion have kept us all in order and very busy!

I believe that I can speak for the whole when I say that our New Year's resolution is to get this bus done! We've all been happy with our progress and teamwork during this last semester but we're really looking forward to celebrating our public opening. We've also been granted one of our biggest wishes- the ability to include handicap accessibility and our green solar power unit into the budget! Its been a great year and a rewarding project. Though next semester we won't be a formal class, each of us will attempt to contribute as we are able. Many will be continuing through independent study and more on an individual basis. In any case, I believe we can look back on this last semester proud of what we've created and know that there is much more to come in for our M-Lab in the future.