Fourth and fifth-year landscape architecture students at Penn State’s College of Art and Architecture recently presented their proposals for reshaping a Pittsburgh neighborhood. The twelve participants in the school’s Pittsburgh Studio spent most of the semester focusing on Hazelwood, a neighborhood set to host a new site for a historic branch of the city’s Carnegie Library.
At an exhibition in a local church, the Studio exhibited the projects to the community members they had designed them for. Such interaction between students and residents is characteristic of a program that fosters engagement between the two groups along every step of the creative process. Removing students from the vacuum of an classroom setting and placing them in the sites of their prospective designs brings additional weight to the work they generate. Says participant Aaron Ramos, “Once you meet these people, you connect and grow relationships with them and you feel responsible for what you design…I take more ownership with what I present to them and they take ownership, too.”
The Studio is a collaboration between the College of Arts and Architecture and the Penn State Center, a branch of the school that enables broader engagement between the School and the city of Pittsburgh. The program, now in its 6th year, will culminate in a tangible impact on Hazelwood. City councilman Corey O’ Conner says that $10,000 has been set aside to allow for the implementation of one of the yet-to-be chosen student designs.