OV COURSE is an initiative seeking to address issues of food access, entrepreneurship/economic opportunity, and community interaction in Pittsburgh through the design, production, and implementation of pre-fabricated, mass-produced community ovens for the baking of bread and pizza.
According to Feeding America, 1 in 8 Americans struggles with hunger. In Pittsburgh, PA, hunger rates are greater than the national average, with 1 in 7.5 Pittsburgh residents struggling with hunger. Often times, hunger in the region is related to issues of access caused by physical and psychological barriers specific to this region. Perhaps the most significant barriers to food access in Pittsburgh are economic barriers. In under-served communities like Homewood where the average median income is $17,400, it is estimated that an individual would be left with a daily food allowance of just $4.20 after subtracting costs for rent, utilities, transportation, and other basic expenses.
As a strategic intervention into this existing context, OV COURSE aspires to increase access to healthy, affordable food for individuals in under-represented communities in Pittsburgh 1) directly by serving as a new source for food and 2) indirectly by facilitating job skills training and entrepreneurship opportunities that elevate one’s prospects for building wealth. Additionally, OV COURSE aspires to take advantage of the opportunity to enhance community interaction and pride through the creation of place-specific spaces centered on the act of breaking bread.
The OV COURSE oven box and hearth slab are fabricated by production-based entrepreneurs-in-training (E.I.T.’s and apprentices-in-training (A.I.T.’s) as part of masonry programs at the partnering job skill training organization. The steel components of the OV COURSE ovens are fabricated by production-based E.I.T.’s and A.I.T.’s as part of welding programs at PROJECT RE_. Components of the oven including the flue, apron, and roof are fabricated from CNC plasma-cut steel, allowing for the Welding E.I.T.’s and A.I.T.’s to develop new, marketable skills in high-tech, digital fabrication methods.
The result of an eight-month collaborative design and fabrication process, the first OV COURSE prototype was completed in October 2017. OV COURSE is being developed in collaboration between three partnering non-profit entities—Construction Junction, a building material reuse facility; the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh (TIP), a job skill training program for individuals re-entering society from incarceration, and the Urban Design Build Studio (UDBS), a public interest design-build entity—as part of PROJECT RE_ with the mission to reuse materials, rebuild communities, and restore lives. Through this network of actors, the aspiration is to develop a model of mass production for OV COURSE that can serve as a business venture for point-of-sale and production-based entrepreneurs emerging from apprentice training. Materials incorporated into the ovens will be sourced from regional deconstruction projects facilitated through PROJECT RE_.
Holy Family Institute
Trade Institute of Pittsburgh
John Folan, UDBS Director
CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT CONTRIBUTOR
Steve Shelton, Trade Institute of Pittsburgh Executive Director
Ronnell Miller, PROJECT RE_ Entrepreneur-in-Training
Cameron Meadows, PROJECT RE_ Entrepreneur-in-Training
Aaron Beatty, TIP Welding Instructor
Alfredo Rodriguez, PROJECT RE_ Entrepreneur-in-Training
Keith McAlpine, Master Carpenter
Glen Cunningham, TIP Masonry Instructor
Alise Kuwahara Day, UDBS Fellow