A recent feature in Metropolis magazine, “Good Neighbors: How Architecture Schools Are Rethinking Their Relationship to Rust Belt Cities” by School of Architecture adjunct Sarah Rafson, highlights the myriad ways architecture schools can help their nearby underserved communities. The article features the work of the Urban Design Build Studio (UDBS) led by associate professor John Folan and the traveling exhibition An Atlas of Commoning: Places of Collective Production spearheaded by associate professor Stefan Gruber.
Beginning with its Urban Lab established by urban design professor David Lewis in the 1960s, the SoA has pioneered university-led participatory design. With many educators and organizers at the ACSA conference hailing from Buffalo and Detroit, the fate of Rust Belt cities emerged as a natural focus. Today, UDBS works with residents of the Homewood area in PROJECT RE_ to support the declining neighborhood with public-interest design interventions, and the An Atlas of Commoning traveling exhibition takes a more globally-oriented approach to transferring design methodologies and community design tools from Pittsburgh to radically different contexts.
The event also included the 4th annual ACSA/AIA Housing and Community Development Workshop under the theme of "Building the Equitable City.” The workshop brought together practitioners and educators from across the country. A neighborhood tour guided by CMU faculty Jonathan Kline and Valentina Vavasis, and others, provided insight to affordable housing approaches in East Liberty and Larimer. The workshop also featured a panel with Stefan Gruber along with Karen Kubey, Ceara O’Leary, and Erkin Özay in which they shared and discussed their respective experiences of teaching community engagement.