By way of its uniquely concurrent practice + academic learning model, the Boston Architectural College (BAC) has begun a thriving tradition of community engagement through design. This paper uncovers how design/build formats - cast as a service-learning projects - have the potential to foster profound student learning opportunities, improve the urban environment through design engagement and community action, and inform architectural accreditation. Though exceptionally rewarding, the design/build model is not without challenges. The authors utilize their unique perspectives as design educators and community members to deliver both a narrative account and critical analysis for a case study of one such learning model.
The Frederick Douglas Peace Park project, conducted in 2008 as part of the authorsí Urban Design Build (UDB) format is an example of a grassroots initiative met with the support of an institution of design education. The project revitalizes a neglected neighborhood by activating forgotten space - rebuilding a sense of community and creating a place of memorial for a much-revered American Civil Rights Activist. Emanating from Grichtingís neighborhood peace park, Sturgeonís UDB project extended grassroots momentum to community event programming and served as a catalyst for additional reclamation projects: a string of public spaces and the rehabilitation of a community center once on the verge of being torn down and privatized.
Keywords: Urban Design/build, Community-based design, Applied learning, Learning through making, Public Space
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