March 30, 2020

McKinley Architecture and Engineering Supports Local Makerspace

McKinley Architecture and Engineering has had an office in Charleston for 15 years, headed by Thom Worlledge, AIA, a senior Architect. We are dedicated to, and are investing in, the communities in which we live.

We recently donated 7 doors to THE MAKER’S CENTER in Charleston, West Virginia. Thom skillfully repurposed these donated doors to build work tables for use in the “Technology Lab” of THE MAKER’S CENTER. The doors were stripped of hardware, and a wood trim was placed around the edges. At the area where the door knob was removed, the hole was filled with a cable grommet. The steel tube legs were repurposed from the local Habitat Restore. The results are large sturdy tables made from recycled materials.

Thom has designed furniture made from doors before; all of the workstations and conference tables in McKinley’s award winning office in Charleston, WV were made from used doors. Besides his job of designing actual buildings, Thom has always enjoyed designing and building things: “I have designed bicycles, furniture, cabinets, rockets, lamps, IOT devices, and I am currently designing and building robots. I was selected as one of 50 designers in the world to create a concept for an international flexible PV solar design challenge.”

Now you may ask, what is “THE MAKER’S CENTER”?
It is an innovative approach that is inspiring local residents to imagine a brighter future.

According to Thom, “THE MAKER’S CENTER grew out of a desire to give back to the community by helping them rebuild after the floods of 2016, which hit some neighboring communities in WV hard. Many lost their homes and they are still trying to put their lives back together years after the floods.” Thom started collecting tools and materials to start a “tool Library” where community members could check out tools like checking out books from a library. “I thought if I could give them access to tools, they could rebuild. But I had no place to distribute the tools.” Around the same time, the Bible Center Church started a ministry outreach to the City of Charleston and the outlying communities and they were looking for innovative ideas to serve the community. “I proposed creating a Maker’s Space that could teach skills and classes to help people get jobs and give the community access to tools.” The Church loved the idea and it took off. The Church donated the use of a building and received grants to purchase additional tools and materials.

THE MAKER’S CENTER is now the home of an initiative for those in recovery, school children, and the community. It is comprised of three areas: a technology lab, a woodshop, and an art studio. THE MAKER’S CENTER is similar to the worldwide makerspace movement which offers nonprofit, collaborative, community workshops where groups of people pool their resources (usually tools, technology, and art) for the common good of making, learning, exploring, and sharing. What’s important to remember about a makerspace is that you actually make something. It is built around the belief that “You have skills to share with me, and I have the skills to share with you.”

THE MAKER’S CENTER hasn’t officially opened yet, but it is already being used to teach elementary students science using augmented reality computers, teaching Flower Arranging classes to recovering individuals, and providing drivers ed to adults who do not have the opportunity to learn how to drive.

Currently THE MAKER’S CENTER has delayed it’s grand opening until after the pandemic is over, but the members are working full time sewing masks, and the 3D printers are printing certified PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for medical workers as well as face masks for the WV National Guard.

For more information, please visit THE MAKER’S CENTER website.