2014 - One of the most crucial aspects of the Collaborative design process is cost estimating—it helps community organizations understand what’s feasible and demonstrates how the design process can begin to inform fundraising. This vital process allows communities to set and achieve their goals.
For the past three years, the Collaborative has benefitted from Patrick Snoke’s active involvement and expertise. As a cost estimator, Patrick has donated over 160 hours of his time on projects such as Fellowship Farm, Starfinder Foundation, Spring Gardens, New Freedom Theater and several rStore façade improvement projects. His sense of humor and humility can make it easy to take his work for granted, but when we talked with him, it became clear that Patrick makes a huge impact.
Though the bulk of cost estimating is done at the end of the project, Patrick prefers to give his input from the very beginning. As a seasoned construction and building expert, he joins in site visits and meeting clients to ensure that plans end up being feasible and realistic.
As he explains it, the work he does is barbelled with site visits and research in the beginning, and then cost estimation calculations in the end. Although he jokes about his free time in the middle of the design process, in reality he uses this time to take on more projects, sometimes working on two at once. “Because it’s pockets of work, it’s easier for me to manage the workload. It’s probably why I volunteer more often, or when I get the phone call I’ll say, ‘Yeah of course I’ll do it.’”
Helping Communities Take the Initiative
The reason for Patrick’s consistent involvement? There are many, but most influential is his past experience directing construction and maintenance for a large nonprofit. Because of this, he truly understands the challenges of this sector. In his experience, many nonprofits “know the programs they want to provide to people, but they don’t know how to manifest that into a building that would do what they need to do.”
This is where Patrick and other Collaborative volunteers step in. And for him, “that’s the most rewarding part, to be able to participate and help the nonprofits take their program in a direction they want to go.”
For Patrick, helping communities “push along” their mission feels especially impactful in smaller scale projects like rStore, where design professionals help revitalize Philadelphia’s commercial corridors through façade improvements. In one day, Collaborative volunteers consult with store owners and brainstorm viable options for improving their facades. These are later translated into drawings and cost estimates, which are given to the storeowners to support reinvestment in the corridor.
Patrick notes that, in these projects “you see some of the communities actually do the work, and make immediate progress.” With quantifiable goals in hand, “an ambitious group of volunteers and organizations” can quickly make a huge difference in their neighborhood.
According to Patrick, this type of community design is especially important in Philadelphia today. “Community development corporations put the ability of the people who are actually in the neighborhood to push along the projects, and they turn around their own community.”
In the end, for Patrick, the logic is simple: “they’re taking the initiative to be responsible for their community, so professionals should be involved to help them.”