From grove to garden Pacific redwoods reclaimed are students' gain.

If you take a stroll through the Ted and Chris Robb Garden on the Stockton Campus, you’ll see some new, solid redwood furnishings: work tables with matching benches, garden bed frames, potting benches, and—most recently—an array of sturdy composting bins.

You might not know they were all designed and made by Pacific students!

Form meets function

The pieces are not merely functional; they all share elements of an integrated design, evoking the Mission style. Most are stained in earthy hues of green and brick-red, while the potting benches incorporate live-edge cuts of redwood with the bark still attached.

These furnishings are the result of collaboration between faculty, students and staff in facilities, the Department of Art and Graphic Design and the Pacific Garden Program.

The idea was birthed when expansion of the Janssen Lagorio Gymnasium to add the new Performance Center was going to require removal of nearby redwood trees. Assistant Vice President and Chief Facilities Officer Graeme Mitchell, Director of Construction Management Chris Madill, and Garden Program Director Patty Gray saw an opportunity and developed a plan to reclaim the wood from these majestic trees.

“It was so fun to do something a little bit spontaneous and crazy,” said Gray. “We just couldn’t stand to see those beautiful redwoods go to waste.”
Madill arranged to have a portable mill brought onto campus, where the redwoods were sawn into lumber. The milled lumber was stacked behind art professor Dan Kasser’s 3D studio, where it cured for a year.

In spring 2018, Kasser inspired the students in his two 3D Design classes to transform the redwood lumber into useful—and beautiful—furnishings for the Robb Garden. Gray was appreciative of the spirit of collegiality that took the project to this next level.

“Dan was really generous with his time and advice as we prepped the wood for curing,” Gray said. “It sparked a friendship between us that made it easy for us to cook up this project together.”

Gray provided a wish list and consulted with the students on the garden’s needs.

With Kasser’s mentoring, students researched and applied furniture design history and principles to create the different pieces.

Sustainability Director Jessica Bilecki was particularly pleased with the project.

“This is a perfect example of collaboration leading to multiple positive impacts,” Bilecki said. “Experiential learning, re-purposing on-campus resources, students making lasting contributions to the campus – it’s a win for everyone.”

A place to work and be...

The furnishings have transformed the way the Robb Garden is being used. The worktables are hubs for Robb Garden interns as they sit and draw plans for their garden beds or gather for weekly meetings. The potting benches are staging areas for transplanting seedlings. And the composting bins are filling up with recycled garden green waste that will be turned into rich, organic compost to feed the growing plants.

The tables and benches also serve to complete the vision of the Robb Garden as a social commons, where anyone can come to sit and have lunch, meet with friends or colleagues, or just enjoy the garden.

Come by and visit. There’s a bench waiting for you! The Robb Garden is open for casual drop-in visitors weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

For more information about the Pacific Garden Program or Sustainability at Pacific


Jaslyn Gilbert

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