STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – Homeless teenagers and young adults will now have a place to stay thanks to the work of some Oklahoma State University students.

Recently, OSU students from the Oklahoma City and Stillwater campuses contributed to the construction and structural design of tiny homes on the Pivot Inc. campus in Oklahoma City.

Pivot has opened 26 homes in the last five years for teens and young adults who are homeless or are aging out of the foster care system.

“My interest in housing motivated me to be involved in this project. When I teach, I like to give students an actual project to complete,” Paolo Sanza, associate professor at the OSU School of Architecture, said. “I thought this was a good starting point and, at the same time, a way to contribute to the community and be involved with outreach.”

Sanza’s 14 students met with Pivot in 2020 and were challenged to design the small spaces.

“Our structure was a classic homestyle shape, but it was broken up and divided into two levels. Since a lot of the homes have a very open floor plan, we started to put wood slat dividers to divide the bed from the kitchen and living areas to help privacy,” said Katelyn Mann, a 2021 OSU architecture graduate. “Then a lot of our focus was on things that were retractable, so having furniture that could fold into walls, or having dual space from the closet connecting to the bathroom, that way you have more compact zones.” 

Organizers say it was a great experience for the students, who were able to show off their skills and help their community.

“The project in general highlights the ability of individuals and their career choices to impact the communities they live in,” Dr. Terry Clinefelter, OSU-OKC department head of construction technologies, said. “Within the different projects, you have a combination of private and public entities that came together to meet the needs of the Oklahoma City community and really set a standard that can be reproduced across the country.”