Our 2018 Design in the Hills event took us to the southern hills of Custer. Our theme that year centered around the concept of New Ruralism. New Ruralism can be described as an evolving rural planning approach rooted in respect for cultural heritage and empowerment of residents to actively participate in shaping their own environment. The approach focuses on making rural areas thriving, sustainable places to live and work. Custer possesses a great wealth of cultural resources which our event focused on.
After an hour drive from Rapid City through the Black Hills, our day began with a tour of the former STAR Academy, which was in 2018 named the SLICe Campus. SLICe stands for “Sustainable Light Industrial Complex and energy.” Incremental renovations of the existing buildings and infrastructure was occurring while Design in the Hills was in town. Paul Neseth of RAW Architecture in Minneapolis, MN, gave a presentation on his studio’s design/build projects with students and professionals abroad.
Our next site visit was also with Paul at one of his remote design/build projects. The RAW Campsite and Abode were a series of small pavilions in the forest, specifically located to activate the landscape. The pavilions create places for dwelling, reflection, and learning, while using local materials and methods found in the Black Hills. After a delicious lunch from a local food truck, it was time to set off back towards Custer.
The afternoon’s presentations included a tour of the phased renovations of the Custer Community Center, a presentation from the Mount Rushmore Society on their current masterplan and design efforts, a great tour of the new Custer Hospital’s Healing Garden, and concluded with the annual evening mixer at Mount Rushmore Brewing Company.
Friday’s events in Rapid City included our always enjoyable coffee and donuts with the sponsors, a presentation from Matt Friedel on the Burning Beetle Festival, and the perennial favorite Design Charrette. Our design charrette in 2018 centered around a community rehabilitation of Custer’s feldspar refinery.
The Design in the Hills committee assembled the blog posts for the month of July to celebrate the history of the Design of the Hills event. The committee was formed in 2011 by architects, Kris Bjerke and Tanya Davis and interior designer Maggie Job. Over the years, many new faces have trickled through the committee as leadership in the AIA South Dakota organization has evolved, however Kris has been the anchor to an event which has become a much-anticipated gathering of designers in the Black Hills each summer. The current committee includes Ms. Bjerke, architect and AIA SD board members, Jenn Johnson & Brian Johnson and landscape architect, Tanya Olson. AIA South Dakota executive director, Angela Lammers has been a tremendous supporter and advocate to the event success as well. This year’s in-person event being postponed is an exception to the ‘norm’ due to COVID-19, however the committee wanted to celebrate the success of the event through blog posts capturing previous years and a photo contest collaborating with Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association. We encourage you to be inspired and participate in the photo contest and mark your calendar for the July 2021’s 10th anniversary Design in the Hills Event.