High school student designs downtown bike racks

Ben Campbell’s fish-shaped bike racks were product of JDHS design class

Ben Campbell, a recent graduate of Juneau-Douglas High School, kneels next to one of two of his fish designed bicycle racks on Ferry Way on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. Campbell designed the rack for a class and the city choose to make it a reality. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)


New bike racks installed downtown were designed by local high school student Ben Campbell.

The pair of bright blue salmon-shaped bike racks on Ferry Way were installed a few weeks ago, City and Borough of Juneau Chief Landscape Architect Michelle Elfers said. It’s the first design from a four-year collaboration between CBJ and Juneau-Douglas High School to see installation.

Campbell, a recently-graduated JDHS student planning to attend the University of Alaska Southeast, explained his design process to the Empire on Wednesday. Elfers had proposed the project to JDHS teacher Colin Dukes’ class as a year-long assignment.

“We started with a rough draft, just drawing pictures of anything really, and this really caught my eye,” Campbell said. He’d sketched a continuous line of piping curved into the silhouette of a salmon, with ribs sticking down to secure several bikes.

The process started two years ago, when Campbell was a student in Dukes’ class learning AutoCAD software, a computer-aided design and drafting software. AutoCAD is ubiquitous in many design, engineering and architecture fields, Elfers said.

“If you’re an engineer, architect or landscape architect, you use that software,” Elfers said.

Campbell applied what he’d learned about AutoCAD to take the fish racks from a sketch to a full-fledged design. Elfers then took the design to a Minneapolis-based company, which constructed the steel racks. CBJ paid $1,171 for each.

Elfers has been working with JDHS students on projects such as this since at least September of 2014, she said.

“If there’s some element that needs design like a bench, bike rack or a small shelter, I’ll go into the class and show them the project,” and give a presentation on architecture and design careers, Elfers said.

She’s passionate about her job and hopes to inspire interest in landscape architecture and related fields in students. Landscape architecture “creates and shapes our built environment,” Elfers said, and helps keep cities safe, enjoyable and interesting. “It’s important how we move through our space.”

A soccer player and member of the JDHS Alpine Club, Campbell graduated with his high school diploma this spring. He plans to attend UAS for one year before hopefully enrolling in a design program at Montana State University.

“I’ve always been interested in design and architecture and stuff like that, and this really caught my eye. I got something good out of it, so I think I’m going to continue in that direction,” Campbell said.

• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and kgullufsen@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.


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