Design Build - Baxa Scholars Cabin

The Baxa Scholars Cabin

Jason Griffiths, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Cedar Point Biological Station in western (name withheld) is defined by its remoteness. Even prior to its assimilation as a rural extension of the (name withheld) campus it had been so. Founded 1949 under the guidance of R. Alice Drought, its mission was determined physical remoteness. This being a place of exploration without the compromise of distraction. This mission remained intact when it was eventually taken over by the (name withheld) in 1974. Today it hosts a thriving community of visiting academics, researchers and students of ornithology, parasitology entomology and so on, i.e. a community whose studies are defined by fieldwork and the unique location of CPBS between the Sandhills of northern (name withheld) and the agricultural plains towards Colorado.

Shortly before his passing in the summer of 2017 Dr. Mark Baxa established a scholarship for students enrolled in (name withheld) biological sciences degrees. As a distinguished alumni, Mark wanted to memorialize his formative years as an undergraduate student and, in
particular, the invaluable contribution carrying out fieldwork at Cedar Point.

In the fall of 2016 our studio was given the challenge of designing a scholars cabin for underprivileged students in bioscience degrees. Although we had been provided with simple schedule of accommodation, it quickly became clear that the ethos and context of CPBS could play a far greater roll in defining the building. Ultimately Dr. Baxa’s beliefs and the unique location came down to two key themes:

• The building process should explore issues associated with eastern redcedar as an architectural equivalent of fieldwork.
• The building should deal with the problem of its location through a prefabricated assembly system of cross-laminated timber.

The studio also agreed that the construction process should interact with other students and academics at CPBS and develop a discussion on mutual benefit of fieldwork across disciplines.

Together these issues of contextual making and advanced fabrication apply the pedagogy of design-build teaching over a full architectural curriculum. Our ambition with the Baxa Cabin is to demonstrate how architecture has mutual interests in places like Cedar Point Bio station and how this participation is highly appropriate to the design-build ethos of “learning by