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Architecture students launch Kickstarter for temporary-use project

Students at NewSchool of Architecture & Design who are trying to transform a vacant city lot into temporary working spaces opened a Kickstarter campaign on Friday to continue their efforts.

The group, called Design TEMPO (Temporary Economic Modular Product Organization), is trying to launch RAD Lab (Research Architecture Development Laboratory), a pop-up marketplace that showcases local products and caters to those seeking temporary outdoor activities and entertainment such as food trucks, musicians, retailers and even pets for a dog run.

The plan is to build the pop-up marketplace with large storage and shipping containers on the city-owned block at Park Boulevard between Market and G streets in the East Village. The structures would be integrated with open gathering spaces as well.

David Loewenstein, chief operating officer of RAD Lab, said the group is trying to raise $60,000.

“Our next benchmark is getting $20,000 for the conditional-use permit and to pay for engineering work needed to review and analyze our plans so they can be eligible to submit to the city,” Loewenstein said.

As of Monday afternoon, $545 had been donated.

An aerial rendering of what the RAD Lab pop-up marketplace could look like. Image courtesy of Design TEMPO

The Design TEMPO -- which includes Philip Auchettl (CEO), Jason Grauten (chief communications officer), Adam Jubela (chief financial officer) and Lowenstein -- want to lease out half of the city block (28,500 square feet) for two years with an option for a third. This city-owned block is currently a dilapidated street-level parking lot.

The storage and shipping containers would need to be converted to meet local building code requirements and seismic regulations. They would be manufactured offsite and then installed at the city lot, across from the NewSchool of Architecture & Design.

Auchettl, Grauten, Lowenstein and Michael Poage (who recently took a full-time job with another firm, but still contributes) came up with the idea after a studio course called “Architect as Developer” from NewSchool instructor Jorge Ozomo.

The project originally was called Clip-on, but Loewenstein said the name was altered recently because the concept changed slightly.

“Originally we wanted to do a lot of outdoor activities … so we were looking into temporary-use permitting,” Loewenstein said. “But after talking with Civic San Diego (the city’s redevelopment agency), we are now going for a conditional-use permit and do rezoning (for events) on a case-by-case basis.”

Former Mayor Bob Filner's resignation also factored into the change because he and his office had been working closely with the RAD Lab team.

“When Filner left, it made us refocus our timeline and (look at) what to do about the permitting process,” Lowenstein said.

But before Filner left office, he helped set up the team with other city staff members from Civic San Diego and interim Mayor Todd Gloria’s office.

“Filner leaving hasn’t slowed us down,” Lowenstein said.

The city-owned lot is designated for an affordable housing project, according to Civic San Diego President Jeff Graham, who added that the project is at least two years away from starting construction.

The RAD Lab team says the city would benefit from its plan because the city would be earning revenue from the lease and a percentage of the profits from community events held would go toward the financing needed for the planned affordable housing complex.

Those wanting to donate and learn more about the project can go to kickstarter.com and search for "RAD Lab."

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