FIRST COURSE is a mobile, adaptable, coffee kiosk built from waste material, intended to provide an entrepreneurship opportunity to an individual being given a second chance in life. It is a fleet of modular, pre-fabricated cafe carts, each with a specific function, that aggregate to form a complete cafe kiosk. It is operating in the lobby of an old warehouse, providing access to food and coffee to the population in the building that previously had none.
Courtney, a recent graduate of the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh, was selected to be the entrepreneur in training of FIRST COURSE. This project has provided her with a low-barrier, low-cost opportunity to start her own business and secure a living wage.
Designed with future mass production in mind, the carts of FIRST COURSE are detailed to be easily replicable and constructed out of discarded objects. Materials sourced from a local material re-purposing center, Construction Junction, are combined in this project to create value-added products and to divert waste from landfills. Solid cedar doors were recut and refinished to form the carts, old office cabinets were sanded to reveal their natural sheen, metal shelving units were reconfigured to create an electrical access panel, an old bookshelf was remodeled to be a display case, and a steel cooler was repurposed for storage and workspace.
Replicable strategies for combining waste material were developed to provide job and skill training for individuals who might otherwise not have the chance. Universal conditions were detailed to be easily constructed and used for training purposes. Specific conditions were designed to respond to distinct materials or uses and used to teach apprentices. The construction of FIRST COURSE created employment opportunities for two carpenters, two welders, and Courtney herself, for the duration of the project.
105 days from receiving the project brief, FIRST COURSE was designed, constructed, inspected and permitted. FIRST COURSE is now open daily in the lobby of 7800 Susquehanna, an old warehouse that didn’t even have a single vending machine in it, serving over 200 employees of start-ups and local businesses.
John Folan, UDBS Director
Alise Kuwahara Day, UDBS Fellow
CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT CONTRIBUTOR