An unconventional boardwalk project that Ball State landscape architecture students, architecture students, and faculty began in Spring 2021, was installed this year. The boardwalk connects three trails at McVey Memorial Forest in Randolph County.

The project was developed in partnership between Red-tail Land Conservancy, the Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District, Madjax Makerspace, and EcoRehab. Additional project funding was provided by the Ball Brothers Foundation and the Larry Roan Fund.

Early in the project, a conventional field survey was completed along with a LiDAR scan of site conditions. The FARO LiDAR scanner was loaned to students and faculty by the IDIA lab at Ball State.

Designed around a hexagon lattice network, resolved in the drafting program Rhinoceros 3D, the boardwalk project utilizes modular, structural joist/beam units that fit together like a puzzle and are right sized for two-person manual hauling or small all-terrain vehicle transport.

With a design adaptable to field conditions located 10 minutes away from major road crossings, the modular units served as a practical substructure for the curvilinear form.

The decking consists of Indiana grown Hardwood that was thermally modified by EcoVantage. This industry partnership was facilitated by iMADE at Ball State. Carboard decking templates were fabricated at the Ball State Digital Fabrication Labs to guide manual cuts.

The modular-based design made installation relatively efficient. The innovative production approach positions the partnership to mass produce many such boardwalks throughout East Central Indiana at various scales and configurations.

By Colby Gray
Director of Digital Fabrication and Maker Corps