Las Vegas Food Hub: 2 Day Consultation with RDG Architects

production space west_outsideThis week we spent two days in the company of RDG staff and various guest liaisons from the Des Moines City Planning office.

Day 1: The first day was an adjustment. There was miscommunication on both ends as to what was needed and to be expected and so the meeting didn’t benefit all groups equally. Essentially, it was a series of presentations whereas we really wanted constructive feedback on our design not or concepts.

Day 2: The second meeting proved to be more beneficial. The morning started with a presentation over form-based code by a guest speaker. While we appreciated this it did prove to be slightly redundant as we had already performed research on this for our site.  Nevertheless, it was reassuring that we were on the right path and that we understood the nuances of it.

Shortly thereafter, we had trace and markers in hand and were rotating every 20 minutes between different liaisons. To clarify, we had split up into our individual teams,  presented short overviews of our projects, and went into receiving immediate feedback from the different professional expertise.


Overall, we had positive reactions to both our concept and design scheme. The feedback that we received really just informed our decisions to make adjustments.

  • Lighting feedback
    • Intergrate sensored lights with a centralized HVAC system hvacc
    • Intergrate light shelves and saw tooths directed at northern facade
  • Interior feedback
    • In regards to the community garden make sure to render the greenery from the exterior
    • Consider redesigning the test kitchen so that its more group learning oriented rather than individualized learning  stations
    • Use the green wall concept in our retail space as an accent rather than a primary feature
  • Urban planning feedback
    • Move the entire building and shade screen to the setback line
  • Landscape
    • In regards to the plaza, consider using the grid to designate how the space will be occupied during events
    • Provide shading or solar shading
    • Carry the flora language (palm trees) on the sidewalk into the plaza or use inorganic sculptures that mimic flora.
  • Market_Square_indoor market

Las Vegas Food Hub: Designing for social equity

I recently watched a viral video on Facebook that sparked a dialogue in my head about what we are really trying to accomplish with our wellness center and food hub in Las Vegas. As it stands, there are a few guidelines that my group has set up to keep in line with our wellness concept and one of them was to make sure wellness was reflected in every aspect of our programming. Currently, we have set aside rooms in our building to host a dining area, a test kitchen, and an educational component. We envision an array of activities occurring in these spaces that are inclusive and appealing to many demographics.This idea brought up the question of how one can design with social equity in mind. Specifically, one issue that we have considered but have not fully fleshed out was how to interact with the homeless and transient community that frequents our site.

The specific video I watched showcased a new approach to feeding the homeless that revolved around dignity. This was a concept that they incorporated at both a design and programmatic level. Programmatically, it was accomplished by serving people as if they were getting there orders taken at a restaurant as well as offering  culinary certification courses. Design-wise, they utilized restaurant style seating and back of house instead of buffet set-ups or long benched tables.  I think this is an aspect we should also consider if we are truly trying  to be encompassing and give back.  Design-wise we already have the space so all we are left with is adopting a portion of our program to do something similar. Especially, the vocational program component.


Las Vegas Food Hub: A Change of Plans

Main Floor plan

Literally, our architectural plans as well as site has changed! After much consideration of our mission, and a visit to Las Vegas, we have decided to move our project building to another area (the corner of Bonneville Ave, 1st and 1st, Garces Ave).

This new change affords us many advantages. Here are our top 4 reasons:

  1. In order to instill our wellness concept as well as aggregate and distribute healthy food options we value access to our site. Our new location offers this via its proximity to the main bus terminal in Las Vegas, the RTC Bus and Bike Hub. It is also situated by a main thoroughfare Bonneville Ave and in walking distance of the downtown.
  2. Our location, in turn provides us more visibility as the amount of foot and vehicular traffic is considerably higher than our original Mission Linen (1st and Coolidge Ave) site. Calculating estimates  for this traffic may aid in validating the
  3. The existing infrastructure around our site is positioned for new development. The City of Las Vegas, has planned to implement more housing in the area as well as facilitate more commercial growth. Changes have already occurred in regards to improving the streetscape with form based code, the inclusion of on street parking, wider sidewalks with shading, and bike lanes.
  4. Our new site is approximately 40,000 square feet which provides us more space to organize and expand our programs into zones within our building.

While all of this is a bit exciting there is still a lot of work to do. We are practically restarting in many ways, however; because our concept it so strong many of the ideas for spaces that appeared in our initial iteration may still transfer over. So, stay tuned for more to come.



Las Vegas Food Hub: First impressions from community leaders

Under a sunny morning sky on March 4, the students of Iowa State’s College of Design Las Vegas Food Hub studio were fortunate to have met with community leaders who are directly involved with or have affiliations to healthy food initiatives in Las Vegas. This informal session occurred at the Downtown and 3rd Farmers’ Market and was intended to get us acquainted with each other as well as have the five student teams present some of our initial research and ideas for feedback, critiques, and overall impressions.

Aurora Buffington was the first person to speak with us at the farmers’ market.  She discussed that as a Registered Dietitian/Health Educator at Southern Nevada Health district, her primary interests in implementing a food hub in Las Vegas are related to health and wellness. She touched on how she was involved in the formation of the Southern Nevada Food Council in 2011 whose primary objective is to provide equal access to healthy food for all Southern Nevadans through education and policy. She also discussed the correlations between healthy food and healthcare as well as some of the initiatives currently happening in the local school system (i.e. individual school gardens). My particular group, who’s focus is on wellness found her to be a particularly insightful person to speak with but, due to time constraints, we made plans to speak with her at a later date.

Kerry Clasby was the next leader to whom we were introduced too. As the manager of the Downtown and 3rd Farmers’Market we were attending, she opened the discussion by giving her perspective on food accessibility and the importance of eating a variety of healthy and organic foods. When we briefly sat down to speak with her as an individual group, we introduced the information we found in regards to the current food shed that Las Vegas has access too, our initial ideas about wellness, and our potential site location. Her feedback was primarily centered around the feasibility of our business plan and who we could get as potential investors. These were both areas we had given some pertinence too, however; had not fully fleshed out. She warned of the pitfalls of how the wrong business plan could lead to debt and or foreclosure but, still encouraged us to push forward.

Rick Passo was the next individual we spoke with that morning. He is the Co-Founder of Food Hub Las Vegas, a separate initiative which uses grassroots initiatives to gain momentum and address issues related to food security, access, and health. Since he is also trying to initiate a food hub, he was able to speak at length about the movements and potential contacts we could speak with as we go continue our designs. He was inspiring because he was very invested and passionate about the cause despite who was responsible for implementing it. In addition to being involved with the startup of a food hub, he has also been involved with helping to plan Nevada statewide Green School Summit as well as urban agriculture.

Walt Michaels was the last individual that we spoke to at length. As an engineer, educator, and Managing Director at Charge-N-Go, LLC he was primarily interested in the mechanics of how our growing systems would work. He analyzed our current system and pointed out lighting issues we may encounter. He also stressed the importance of gaining business contacts to invest in our idea as well as shared some ideas how to do so from his own personal experiences.

All four had both big personalities and the brains to boot. In retrospect, I am glad we took the time to meet with these folks as they really gave us a lot to think about for changes to our design and plan.

Here are some of our presentation boards and the notes that went along with them:

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Las Vegas Food Hub:On the ground

Landing over Lake Mead

We had been discussing Las Vegas primary water source for weeks and we were finally able to view it from above!

Site Visit

I was surprised by the amount of street art surrounding the site and the fact that there wasn’t many people around other than those waiting at the bus stop.  Nevertheless, having my own ties with urban contemporary art I found the present works intriguing.

Container Park and Downtown

First Friday

As the name infers, this event occurs on our site ( featured above) every first Friday of the month. It was a massive event with many food vendors as well as live art and music. It was a really eye-opening lesson in how an otherwise uninhabited space could be activated by a little food!