Perspectives in Architecture: Georgia Tech’s Ramblin Reck showcased in net-zero garage

The Ramblin Reck Garage (Photo by Garey Gomez)

The journey to create a permanent home for the Ramblin Reck has been paved with unwavering Georgia Tech spirit for over 100 years.

Students first gave the Ramblin Reck moniker to the Ford Model T, Ford Model A, and Ford V8 cars driven by Georgia Tech Dean Floyd “Bob Cat” Field on campus and with trips during his tenure from 1900-1945.

By 1932, the car was featured with other classic vehicles and engineering contraptions during the Ramblin Reck Parades before all Tech homecomings.

The Ramblin Recck in 1961. (Courtesy Georgia Tech)

Observing the student enthusiasm for classic cars, school leadership endorsed the vintage Ramblin Reck as the official mascot for Georgia Tech student body in 1960. Buzz the Yellow Jacket would appear in 1972 as the other official mascot.

On September 30, 1961, the current Ramblin Reck car, a Ford Model A, debuted at Bobby Dodd Stadium in front of 43,501 Tech fans for a football game against Rice University. The car has led Tech teams onto the football field at every home game since.

A student driver, elected by the Ramblin Reck Club, stored the car in an undisclosed location for years. With the limited visibility of the iconic school mascot, the club hired Square Feet Studio, founded by John Bencich, AIA and his wife, Vivian, to design a 1,000 square-foot glassed pavilion and working garage to display the vintage vehicle.

Inside the Ramblin Reck Garage. (Photo by Garey Gomez)

The location of the Ramblin Reck Garage near a major pedestrian crossing on the southern end of the campus allows visitors to see the car during first-year student orientation ceremonies, school functions, and campus visits.

Square Feet Studio created a net-zero building that produces more energy than it utilizes. A six-foot roof provides natural lighting, shading from direct sunlight, and a discrete location for solar panels. Large, laminated doors pivot upwards for current Ramblin Reck driver and Georgia Tech rising senior Matthew Kistner to easily enter the garage through both ends of the building. Inside the garage, visitors find a turnstile that Kistner uses to rotate the Ramblin Reck for display and maintenance. The interior ceiling grid mimics the grills on the car.

As Square Feet Studio Partner Emily Mastropiero, AIA notes, “We love working alongside clients who understand the commitment that we as professionals must take with respect to the environment. The meaning of this building to the Georgia Tech community made this project even more special.”The Ramblin Reck Garage has received 2023 design awards by the American Institute of Architects. For a university driven by the pursuit of innovation, Square Feet Studio reflects these values with a winning design.

For more information about Square Feet Studio and the Ramblin Reck Garage, tune into the Uplifting Places podcast hosted by Melody Harclerode.

Maintenance work on the Ramblin Reck. (Photo by Garey Gomez)

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