Yestermorrow's Design Build Class in the Dominican Republic



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Pomier Caves Anthropological Reserve, Dominican Republic
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About Yestermorrow Design Build School

The Yestermorrow Design/Build School located in Warren, Vermont, is a dynamic learning community exploring and teaching the integrated creative process of designing and building a sustainable future.

The School was founded in 1980 on the belief that the best built environment depends on the joint cooperation of designers, builders and homeowners. Our goal is to empower people to unleash their creative spirit by researching, preserving and teaching the integrated design/build process. The name Yestermorrow is a synthesis of yesterday’s dedication to craft and beauty in the making of a built environment with tomorrow’s vanguard technologies, materials and lessons learned about the environmental impacts of our actions on the present and future. This synthesis is achieved through Yestermorrow’s design/build approach to architecture and through the connection between hand and mind that unfolds in the design/build process. By teaching students to express their values and lifestyle through this process, we foster a self-awareness that reconnects people to their communities, their natural environment and to each other. We help create healthy, sustainable communities by helping people to take steps to “make their own place.”

About Pomier Caves Anthropological Reserve

Located about an hour's drive west of Santo Domingo on the outskirts of San Cristobal, the Pomier Caves Anthropological Reserve is the only region in the country specifically designated for the protection of a subterranean ecosystem and it is the single most important pre-Columbian site in the Caribbean. With more 6000 recorded pictographs and around 500 petroglyphs pertaining to several distinct indigenous populations, the Pomier Caves are, in anthropological importance, for the Caribbean what the Pyramids of Giza are for Egypt and the Altamira and Lascaux Caves are for Europe. Cave Number One has 590 pictographs; more than are found in all other locations in the Minor Antilles put together. Not only an anthropological wonder, eight new fauna species were reported, all in horizontal caves, in 1995 as the ecological diversity in the Reserve was being surveyed. More species are believed to inhabit the less accessible caverns.

The Pomier Caves have become a research site and have been visited and studied by distinguished scholars who have witnessed their scientific value and the precious heritage they hold. The most recent and informed research has been conducted by Espeleogrupo de Santo Domingo with the scientific support and collaboration of an array of foreign specialists. The caves are of such importance that UNESCO has called for their application for World Heritage Status. Despite the Caves' declaration as a National Monument and general public support, they have faced constant aggression and destruction, mainly due to the chaotic institutional situation that has historically plagued Dominican society. Nearby mining activities have destroyed several caves and countless rupestrian art and bat populations within. In association with legislation and National Parks the local Florinda Soriano Club has succeeded in preventing further damage through the occupation of caves in particularly precarious locations.

The Prehistoric Capitol of the Antilles Project is a project put forth by Espeleogrupo de Santo Domingo and number of individuals from a variety of backgrounds to create a sustainable educational and tourist destination that protects the anthropological treasures of the Pomier Caves Anthropological Reserve and the subterranean aqueduct supplying San Cristobal with water and bring jobs and a future to the poor of Pomier. Yestermorrow's Class in the Dominican Republic will be working towards these ends through the design and construction of an entrance pavilion on the Anthropological Reserve.

Class Summary

This intensive 17 day class will lead architecture students through a dynamic, collaborative design/build process for an innovative community project in a unique tropical environment. Students will move through various stages of group design work, culminating, in a single design appropriate to the use and the site. Utilizing local materials that are environmentally appropriate, the group will then embark on a rigorous building sprint to construct what has been designed, while maintaining flexibility as the design and building processes continually inform one another. The project focus will be an entrance pavilion to the Pomier Caves Anthropological Reserve in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. Tuition includes travel within the Dominican Republic, rustic camping facilities in wall tents, and all meals.


January 3 (Wednesday) through January 20 (Saturday), 2007




Kyle Bergman
M.Arch. VA Polytechnic Inst.
Kyle is an architect relentlessly eager to be out of the office. He has designed and built houses with his own firm, Bergman Design Team, and collaborated on diverse projects, both in the States and abroad. He created and moderated an architectural lecture series about the process of design/build for the Smithsonian Institute, and has contributed to the design and execution of architecture exhibits at the Russian National Architecture Museum in Moscow and the New Oceanside Museum of Art in Oceanside, CA. Frustrated with the lack of resource material for quality new products, Kyle founded a publishing company that created Alt Spec - a visual resource for architects and developers.

Alexander "Sandy" Lawton
M.Arch, U of Virginia
Sandy is the owner of ArroDesign, a local design/build firm established in 1985. Trained as an architect with 15 years of practical construction experience, Sandy can be described as a master builder, taking a project from the design stage and seeing it all the way through the entire construction process. He enjoys exploring the many realms of his business, including concrete, metal, timberframing and new technology.

Class Size & Cost

Min Amount of Students: 10

Max Amount of Students: 25

Cost: $1,800 (airfare to Dominican Republic not included)


Class Schedule

January 3, Wednesday

  • Meeting Point at Santo Domingo Las Americas Airport (SDQ) for airport transfer to Colonial Zone accommodations.
  • Meeting Point at Colonial Zone accommodations.
  • Orientation.
  • Dinner in Colonial Zone
  • Accommodations in Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo

January 4, Thursday

  • Breakfast in Hotel.
  • Presentation on Pomier Caves Anthropological Reserve and Pomier Community with Domingo Abreu.
  • Historical Walking Tour of Colonial Zone
  • Lunch.
  • Transfer to Pomier, San Cristobal.
  • Tour of Camp and Facilities.
  • Tour of Cave No. 1.
  • Tour of Other Caves.
  • Tour of Pomier Community.
  • Dinner at Camp.
  • Tent Camping accommodations.

January 5, Friday through January 8, Monday

  • Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner in Camp.
  • Design.
  • Awareness Tour for Available Materials and Tools.
  • Tent Camping accommodations.

January 9, Tuesday through January 18, Thursday

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner in Camp.
  • Build.
  • Tent Camping accommodations.

January 19, Friday

  • Breakfast and Lunch in Camp.
  • Celebration and Presentation of Project.
  • Transfer to Colonial Zone, Santo Domingo
  • Farewell Dinner.
  • Hotel accommodations in Colonial Zone.

January 20, Saturday

  • Breakfast in Hotel.
  • Airport Transfer to Santo Domingo Las Americas Airport (SDQ)



Hotel Mercure Comercial, Santo Domingo
Nights 1 and 19
Located in the heart of the historic and picturesque Colonial Zone, the Mercure Comercial is only two blocks from the famed "First Cathedral" and surrounded by cafes, shops, ancient ruins, and modern convenience. This building was completely refurbished in 2000 and is the best starting point for a visit of all historical monuments of the old town center. 30 km from the airport. Rooms are clean and comfortable with a/c, cable television, telephone, room safe, and private bathrooms. A full service bar and restaurant on located off the lobby on the Conde pedestrian walkway.

Pomier Anthropological Reserve (camping)
Pomier-Borbon, San Cristobal
Nights 2 through through 18
Primitive camping adjacent to the National Park office in 8, 6 and 4-person tents.


Eureka 6-Person, 2-Room Tetragon
Kelty 4-Person Teton
Eureka 8-Person, 2-Room plus Screen Room Extended Stay

Participant Evaluations

Ratings from 1 (very poor) to 5 (outstanding). MEAN / MEDIAN / MODE

Pre-arrival Contact and Information: 3.8 / 3.5 / 4
Smoothness of Arrival: 4.5 / 4 / 5
Orientation Sessions: 4.5 / 4 / 5
Accommodations, Hotel Mercure Comercial: 4 / 4 / 4
Accommodations, Pomier Tent Compound: 4.6 / 4.5 / 5
Food: 4.8 / 4.5 / 5
Instructors: 4.6 / 4.5 / 5
4T Staff: 4.9 / 4.5 / 5
Overall Organization: 4.7 / 4.5 / 5
Overall Program Value: 4.8 / 4.5 / 5
Educational Value: 4.6 / 4.5 / 5
Cultural Value: 4.5 / 4.5 / 5
Financial Value: 4.5 / 4.5 / 5

Participant Comments

Pre-arrival Contact and Information

  • More details about accommodations, climate, better packing list would have been helpful.

Accommodations, Hotel Mercure Comercial

  • I wish we could have stayed at Sofitel…that was a lovely place.

Accommodations, Pomier Tent Compound

  • Need hammocks.
  • Far exceeded my expectations.
  • Showers were great!


  • EXCELLENT!  It was nice to have the traditional Dominican lunches and the familiar American dinners – great combination of the 2 cultures.
  • Chefs were very accommodating.
  • Far exceeded my expectations.
  • Most outstanding and diverse meals.

4T Staff

  • So helpful!
  • Did everything and everything to keep us building.
  • Knowledgeable and innovative.  Solved concerns and problems quickly and efficiently.

Cultural Value

  • So interesting!  I loved learning about the caves and hearing Lynne Guitar speak about Tainos.
  • Too bad that we couldn’t see more of the country.

What is the most useful item that you brought on this trip?

  • Corkscrew.
  • Headlamp. (x 5)
  • Flashlight.
  • Granola Bars / Snacks in between meals.
  • First Aid Kit.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Sleeping Mat (x 2)
  • My comfortable, ugly tennis shoes.
  • Construction gloves.
  • Chocolate.

What item do you wish that you had brought with you but did not?

  • More dental floss.
  • More batteries.
  • Decongestant.
  • CD player or Ipod.
  • A concrete mixing truck! (x 2)
  • Antiseptic crème for cement-cut hands.
  • Headlamp. (x 2)
  • Light jacket (on the packing list – I didn’t read it).
  • Camera.
  • Painting paper.
  • Extra pair of long pants.
  • Lighter sleeping bag.
  • Hydration pack.
  • Tennis shoes.
  • Work gloves.
  • 1 nicer outfit, a skirt or 2 because it’s very hot.  More shoes and tank tops.
  • Lightweight sleeping sheet.

If this program were a color, what color would it be?

  • Gravel.
  • Lavender.
  • Sky blue.
  • Somewhere between bright orange and yellow.
  • Turquoise.
  • Plaid.
  • Green. M(x 2)
  • Light avocado green with a blurred yellow edge.
  • Black, because it is the mix of all colors.
  • Light yellow with brown speckles.

If this program were a fruit, what fruit would it be?

  • Pineapple. (x 2)
  • An juicy fruit.
  • Kiwi.
  • Pineapple – sometimes weet and sometimes sour; better when it’s ripe; always worth tasting.
  • Passion fruit. (x 4)
  • Passion fruit – seemingly standard on the outside, but full of tangy goodness in the middle…leaves you wanting more.
  • Bananas Foster.

Words of wisdom to those that follow:

  • Laundry will be provided on a limited basis.
  • You will have access to the internet 2 time, etc…
  • It is very hot in the sun – bring lots of tank tops.
  • Even though there will be dirty work needing appropriate clothing, you should also bring 1 or 2 dressy / nicer outfits for going to town / dancing.
  • Bring a Camelback, headlamp and light weight sleeping bag (mine was way too hot).
  • Keep a journal.
  • Check the recommended list of items to bring.
  • Be prepared for wild weather and lots of hard work.
  • Watch out for rebar, it hurts.  Concrete is way heavier than you think.
  • When in doubt, ask Richard.
  • Don’t bring too many clothes.  Were not told ahead of time, but there are ways to have laundry cleaned.  Also bring a comfortable sleeping pad.  It rains nearly everyday so prepare for that with appropriate footwear.  And you should learn / refresh Spanish speaking ability; it will be more fun for you.
  • Trust Richard when he says, “This is not a needle, I am not going to prick you”.

Personal Reflection and/or Testimonial:

  • A great tour guide!  Amazing people.  Very Friendly and willing to help out in whatever they can.  Great cooks!  The food was amazing!
  • 4T Team was incredible.  If one day I have to camp again, I hope that it will be with 4T.
    This was one of the most surprising and educational trips I have taken.  The size of the group was perfect and the leaders where so responsive to our needs.
  • Gracias al grupo de 4T.  Mi primera experiencia de camping es una que nunca olvidaré.  Todo el staff tiene un valor humano increíble.  Me hicieron sentir durante este viaje como si nunca hubiese dejado mi casa.  La característica principal de su equipo es que siempre están dispuestos a compartir, pero sobre todo a servir y a realizar su trabajo con todo el amor y el ánimo del mundo.  Les deseo muchas cosas buenas y éxitos.  Muchas felicidades.  Los extrañaré a todos.
  • This was an excepcional experience.
  • I thought it was a wonderful mix of Dominican Flavor with pretty good U.S. efficiency.
  • 4T staff really makes everyone feel like “family”.
  • The food was awesome, and better than I could have ever expected.  The overall accommodations and experience has been wonderful.
  • If I ever come back to the Dominican Republic and want to know where to go or what to do, I will definitely look 4T up.
  • 4T, and especially Richard and Anthony, were always there to give us any support we needed to get the job done.  More than that, though, they were fun and befriended each one of us.  I’ll go out of my way to schedule trips in the future with 4T for my vacation.
  • The 4T staff made difficult living conditions homey and enjoyable.


All elements of this program are pending final confirmation.
Please refer to
Terms & Conditions for all of the fine print like this.

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Tel. (809)867-8884
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Most photos credited to "Open Shirt' Mike Gussak at