Credit: Meghan Pickett | Mustang News

A group of Cal Poly architecture students are creating a “YOUnity Bench” outside the MultiCultural Center (MCC) of entirely recycled materials to celebrate how education promotes and benefits from diversity, inclusion and civil discourse by enhancing multi-cultural understanding.

The YOUnity Bench was designed by architecture seniors Kevin Marer, Andrew Stratford, Nathan Lundberg, Geoffrey Sanhueza and Leticia Lopez, with the help of architecture professor Jonathan Reich. 

The layout was designed to utilize the entire space so students could benefit from it in a variety of ways, such as through hosting guest speakers or other events, according to Sanhueza.

“We went to the MCC first to get feedback on our original design and see how they would want the different aspects of this area being used, so that we could edit and accommodate for those various activities,” Marer said. 

The surface is made of tough, weather resistant material donated to the students by CaliBamboo and is made entirely from recycled bamboo and plastic water bottles. The fixed seating and counter surfaces line about 25 feet around the wall outside the doors of the MCC while keeping the patio floor area open.

“The MCC holds events and dialogues every week, such as Talk It Out Tuesday, which I’ve personally been a part of and it gets pretty crowded inside,” Lopez said. “This is a perfect opportunity, especially when it gets nice out, to open up the doors and have people spill out to the outside or just move the entire dialogue out here.”

The team’s goal for this project was to create something that was not only functional, but also an outside extension of the MCC’s positive and inclusive space, according to Reich.

“These projects are meant to be very useful, very durable, principled on themes that we think are important and values that we want to promote for places that we care about,” Reich said. “We’re not just building a ‘cute, little thing’ — we have a lot of deep values behind it.”

The students want to engrave short phrases and positive messages into the YOUnity bench to emphasize the bigger meaning and purpose behind this project.

“This bench is not generic, not mass produced, but instead, site- and people-specific,” Reich said. “It really is the best aspects of design made by good people.”

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