Model Projects: Youth and Environments Center and to infuse the scholarship of engagement throughout the college's entire curriculum so all students are impacted from freshmen through seniors.


      Children, Youth & Environments

Center for Research and Design



University of Colorado                                                                             Tel:   303-735-5199                      

Campus Box 314                                                                                      Fax:  303-492-6163       

Boulder, CO  80309-0314





TO:            Peter Simons, Director, Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement

FROM:       Willem van Vliet-, Director, Children, Youth and Environments Center, College of Architecture and Planning

RE:              Model Project Final Report

DATE:         January 31, 201



As per the MOU, IECE has funded a .5 FTE Admin. III for temporary administrative support to


  • ensure essential continuity of current community engagement through service-learning courses; and


  • expand service-learning in the rest of the ENVD curriculum, broaden engagement by other faculty and students from inside and outside the college, share with others the lessons… learned… and serve as a model to demonstrate pathways to success.


When at the end of the initial grant period not all funds had been expended for reasons stated in our report of February 12, 2010, an extension was given to continue work as proposed in the original grant application.


Given the intent of the grant, this report updates information provided in the last progress report, including activities completed since then and adding several new ones. It also offers an assessment of prospects for future community engagement work in CAP.


The grant has supported continuation of outreach and service-learning activities, previously started, and the initiation of new, similar activities.  Some of the activities described in the previous progress reports are still ongoing.  If they have ended, this is indicated below.  This last fall, we have also begun several new projects, so noted below.


The background for this report, and the activities described herein, was a decision by the dean of the College of Architecture and Planning, in Spring of 2009, to establish a new Division of Environmental Design, which was given responsibility for delivering a new ENVD curriculum. This curriculum involves all ENVD majors, orienting and engaging them in real-world issues. It is a positive change that we had been promoting for years and bodes well for further expansion of the kinds of activities for which the grant was awarded.


We started implementation of the first year of the new curriculum Fall 2009. One of its goals is to have courses engage with community issues within an overall framework that builds ongoing relationships and cumulative local knowledge.  In the past, in the few courses where outreach projects did occur, they resulted from individual instructor interest and ad hoc opportunities. Today, we’re aiming for larger curricular continuity and coherence. The projects described below begin to sketch the contours of this plan in the early phase of implementation.


Thanks to the grant, CYE has been able to continue its community outreach activities in the context of the ENVD program and expand efforts into other parts of the curriculum. CYE associates have shared their experiences, offered advice, and collaborated with other faculty in the ENVD program to encourage and support community outreach and service-learning courses outside CYE. We have found it most effective to lend our support by nurturing personal relationships with individuals and by connecting them with resources and others sharing their interests.  In addition, as part of this process of extending the CYE model into the entire ENVD curriculum, in 2009, the Division of Environmental Design established a Community Engagement Committee, which met regularly to develop a systematic approach to creating a rich menu of courses for community engagement through service learning and design build.  


The current situation in ENVD can be described as being in transition. For reasons that go beyond this report, the dean eliminated the Division of Environmental Design that he created less than a year earlier, replacing it by three professionally delineated units, creating an organizational structure that is  perpendicular to the interdisciplinary curriculum and hinders collaboration. At this point there is considerable uncertainty regarding the management of the ENVD program past what the dean has described as an interim situation.


Last summer, the dean agreed to allocate funding for faculty and staff for community engagement in a new continuing base budget for ENVD. However, he has not yet signed off on the hiring process for a permanent appointment. The ENVD program is currently undergoing a special program review that includes re-consideration of the programmatic foci and organizational structure of the entire College of Architecture and Planning. Although recent developments in ENVD have been a setback in view of prior stated goals, future scenarios hold an exciting opportunity for interdisciplinary community engagement that integrates research and teaching. By early summer, we hope to know more about the potential to bring these possibilities to fruition.


What follows is a list with brief descriptions of projects completed during the grant period and its extension, and others that are still ongoing:



  • Advice to the Office for Disability Services on layout and accessibility when relocated to the new Center for Community Building (Matt Jelacic).Completed.


  • Creation of a tactile map of campus to assist vision-impaired campus users in orientation and navigation (Meredith Banasiak).Completed.


  • Senior studio course for the design-build of an affordable housing unit in partnership with the Flatiron chapter of Habitat for Humanity (Matt Jelacic and Rob Pyatt).Completed.


  • Students in ENVD3152, an Introduction to Computer-Aided Design, measured and produced a set of as-built plans and elevations of Boulder’s historic Mapleton Elementary School, built in 1889 and vacant since 2003, when Boulder Valley School District closed it (Jason Bentley).Completed.


  • Students in the Learning Landscapes studio worked with eight BVSD elementary schools to create master plans and design development drawings for the school grounds (Lois Brink).Completed.


  • A new project that involves the production of a documentary film and photo exhibit on the Lost Girls of Sudan in order to bring to a wide audience the compelling stories of these refugees, settled in the Denver-Boulder area (Laura DeLuca, Deborah Fryers and Willem van Vliet-).Halted, owing to interference by CSAW.


  • Umap - a participatory community mapping project to facilitate social action and neighborhood change in a way that is based on residents' everyday lives, perceptions, values, assets and needs (Pamela Wridt).Completed (see



Professor Peter Schneider worked with a group of undergraduate Environmental Design students to expand the project to Park Hill Elementary School in Denver, which is being seen as a prototype for possible implementation at other schools across DPS. In Lafayette, Urban Hens has partnered with Growing Gardens of Boulder County to bring hens to the Harney/Lastoka open space and historic farmstead.  The projects received favorable local media coverage.Completed.


  • The Youth Leaders Study aims to identify factors that hinder or support youth who live in poverty in assuming roles of responsibility in their communities (Willem van Vliet-, Louise Chawla, Doug Ragan).Ongoing.


  • Designing with Multicultural Youth (ENVD 4361.002), a course that involves work with Arapahoe Ridge High School, Centaurus High School,  and the Teenage Parenting Program at Fairview High School (Debra Flanders Cushing and Emily Wexler Love). High-school students and Environmental Design students have presented their digital stories to Boulder’s City Council, BVSD officials, and community members.Completed.


  • Sustainable Planning and Design (ENVD 4363.006), a course that involves working with students in a 6th grade class at Casey Middle School who will collaborate with ENVD students on preparing an entry for this year’s national contest organized by Architecture for Humanity (Bambi Yost and Susie Strife).Completed.


  • Learning Landscapes Seminar (ENVD 4363.007), a course that involves creating master plans for redevelopment of the school grounds at with three elementary schools in Brighton through a participatory process with children, teachers, parents and community stakeholders.Completed.


  • A child-focused International Film Series that introduces audiences of all ages to the social situations of children around the world.  Films are shown on campus in the Muenzinger auditorium and at local schools where teachers incorporate the films in their curriculum, along with guest speakers from the countries where the films were made. Several local teachers have asked that the series be continued next Fall.Completed.


  • Following CYE’s assistance with publication of Phila Impilo!/Live Life (an Oxfam-supported booklet about how to improve the care environments for children with serious chronic diseases, the Director, School of Health at the Univ of Fort Hare in the Eastern Cape Province - one of South Africa’s poorest and most HIV affected provinces, is keen to do a similar project with children on HIV/AIDS in collaboration with Young Insights for Planning. 


  • The American Architectural Foundation awarded CYE a Certificate of Merit for the Designing with Multicultural Youth project, led by Debbie Flanders Cushing and Emily Wexler Love.


  • CYE also received an  E-Chievement Award certificate from E-Town for the Learning Landscapes program.


  • Architecture students presented marketing material and construction drawings to the residents of Greensburg, KS, They spent the eight months researching the Kansas climate and the appropriate materials and building techniques for new “green” housing designs. Their proposals mitigate severe climactic conditions through architecture: collecting rainwater, controlling sun and blocking the winds. Student proposals also explore construction methods such as: Straw Bale, Advanced Framing, Agriboard (compressed straw panels), Structural Concrete Insulated Panels (SCIP), and Warmboard (thermally broken concrete). Working with a team of Landscape Architecture students from CU and using their research on concepts of urban farming. Rick Sommerfeld and Rob Pyatt.Completed.


  • Last summer's Design Build Class project, taught by Senior Instructor and Associate Chair of Architecture Rick Sommerfeld and  Architecture Lecturer Rob Pyatt, involved major interior renovations at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, including a new entrance, museum store, reception desk and moveable interior partitions. You can see the students' work at this Grand Re-Opening   Celebration, as well as view the re-opening exhibit, "Pure Pleasure."  See the website Also, there were articles in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Times-Call.


Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art Renovation The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art Renovation that was done in the Maymester 2009 Design-Build class taught by Rick Sommerfeld, Senior Instructor and Associate Chair of Architecture, and Rob Pyatt, Instructor of Architecture, has won a  2009 Gold Hard Hat Award for Outstanding Small Project from Colorado Construction magazine. The annual Gold Hard Hat Awards is a competition to  determine the best projects completed by firms in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota in a calendar year. Projects were selected based on design quality and innovation, craftsmanship, the project's contribution to the community and the industry, solution of unique design and construction challenges and overall excellence.  In addition, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art Renovation gave Rob Pyatt and Rick Sommerfeld a 2009 Award of Merit from Historic Boulder in recognition of distinguished accomplishment in historic preservation for the BMoCA project and "inspiring students for preservation." The award was bestowed on March 14, 2010 by Historic Boulder and Boulder Mayor Susan OsborneCompleted.


  • In Fall 2009, the Designers Without Boundaries seminar tackled the eVolo Skyscraper design competition. This highly-publicized competition aims to push a designer’ s imagination in redefining skyscrapers through the use of new materials, technology, aesthetic, programs and spatial                                                             

organization as well as enhance their understanding of globalization,                                                                     

environmental, and socio-political issues.Completed.


  • This spring, an ENVD studio is working with the Association of Community Living in Boulder to help design and plan its 4.8 acre site in Gunbarrel for adults and children with developmental disabilities. This project is conceived as the first stage of a collaboration that will in time become a multi-year design-build project for environmental design students.Completed and continuation with second stage anticipated.


  • Bambi Yost, PhD student in Design and Planning, showcased CYE's partnership with Casey Middle School at the Colorado Bioneers conference October 16-18. Since 2007, Casey Middle School and the University of Colorado have been collaborating on sustainability and design issues. The             

service-learning course initiated through the Children, Youth, and Environments (CYE) Center for Research and Design has been taught by Ian Bates, Debbie Flanders-Cushing, Susie Strife, Bambi Yost, and Jason Bentley in CAP's Environmental Design (ENVD) program. The course enhances Casey Middle School's Applied Science Class taught by Kendra Kimmel and provides an opportunity for students to extend their knowledge of concepts by working on real-world problems and issues. In addition, peer-to-peer learning furthers knowledge and collaboration skills   

as older and younger students work together. In anticipation of Casey's new LEED certified school building project, students are developing a      

Sustainability Ambassadors Program & curriculum activities for Casey Middle School. This spring the collaboration with Casey MS is continuing with a revised course (Designing For and With Schools), taught by Laura Malinin, which brings Environmental Design students together with Casey MS students on a weekly basis.Presentation completed; collaboration with Casey is ongoing.


  • Doug Ragan, PhD student in Design and Planning, undertook a training of trainers in community mapping in Nairobi, Kenya. This work is informed     

by the research of Pamela Wridt, Senior Instructor and Associate Chair of Planning, and a pilot project supported by the Children, Youth and       

Environments Center and UN HABITAT in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The training focused on giving youth skills in community mapping, a participatory planning technique. This tool allows youth to map the personal and institutional assets of their community through the use of GIS technologies. These maps are then disseminated both in print and digital form, and displayed online through programs such as Google Earth.Completed.


  • CYE hosted Lily Yeh, who presented "The Transformative Power of Art in Healing and Community Building" in its Fall Lecture Series in partnership with the City of Boulder. Lily Yeh shared her experiences with the Village of Arts and Humanities in Philadelphia over an 18-year period, and            talked about her current work in Rwanda and China with the organization Barefoot Artists. She showed her step-by-step process for community building through art making - a process that can be applied in cities and towns everywhere and which laid a foundation for participatory public arts work to be completed in conjunction with Boulder’s 30thstreet underpass Presentation was on Oct. 28; public art project, just started, will continue into 2010.


  • Students in a landscape architecture studio with Rob Layton are working with the Town of Nederland to design a public gateway parkCompleted.


  • Students in a planning studio with Kelly Draper Zuniga are working with Boulder’s Department of Community Planning and Sustainability to produce a plan for redevelopment of Diagonal Plaza.Completed.


  • Students in a photography course with Mark Mattivi produced visual documentation of the 30thstreet corridor that was used in a study session of Boulder’s Planning Board in developing recommendations for City Council. Completed.


  • We have begun a multi-year design/build project with Growing Gardens that we plan to pursue through a multi-disciplinary design studio which started spring 2010 and continuing through the next two years.  It involves, among others, an outdoor classroom for children participating in its programs, using solar and sustainable design and a larger 1000 sf community building with office meeting and educational  spaces, as well as flat-pack beehive kit it will be able to sell through its beekeeping program. We are planning for this project to include also students from the Leeds Business School, Architectural Engineering, and the W&R Program.Begun spring 2010 and continuing another two years.


  • In a spring 2010 course, Computational Urbanism taught by Harry Koutsis, Environmental Design students are working with the City of Denver Planning Department to produce flow diagrams of the Broadway Corridor from lower downtown till 18thstreet, which they’ll use to project design possibilities for creating a social and political sustainable urban                                                                                  community with access to public transportation, alternative modes of                                                                                         

transportation and a physical representation of potential growth and                                                                                         

development, to be presented to Denver City Council.Completed.


  • In Planning Studio 3, Environmental Design students are working with Boulder HS students, fellow CU students and the City of Boulder Planning Department to provide input for a master plan and urban design recommendations for improvements of the University Hill neighborhood. Instructor: Bambi Yost.Completed.


  • In ENVD 4764, ENVD students last spring semester focuson on the design of a storage, restoration and display space for the grave markers of the Columbia Cemetery. This course was the second in a sequence of classes intended to build the structure (pending College approval). The semester’s final outcome  was a full set of architectural drawings for city approval and full-scale architectural details to explain the construction of facility. Instructors: Matt Jelacic, Rob Pyatt, and Rick Sommerfeld.Completed..


  • In another studio, taught by Marcel de Lange, students are designed an                                                                                          

archeological/natural history museum for the (expanded)city of Ruwais in the United Arab Emirates. Students partially reshaped portions of the master plan and made proposals regarding the influence the museum may have on the master plan. The Planning Council in Abu Dhabi intends to showcase the students’ work. Conversations have started about a possible student exchange and work on future projects. Completed.


  • In a landscape architecture seminar, taught by Kathy Kambic, students identified places in a local watershed that are vulnerable to contamination and water diversion as a basis to propose mitigating measures.Completed.


  • Students enrolled in ENVD 4510 this spring, taught by Stephen Eckert, proposed solutions to a real project that Boulder Housing Partners is currently developing, called  High Mar.  This project is located near the Table Mesa Park and Ride and will contain 30-50 residential units.  The students will work with       the real development team consisting of Boulder Housing Partners, Morgan Creek (a local high-end real estate developer) and various design  consultants.  They will also  attend relevant BHP commissioners meetings gaining first hand insight into the political and economic challenges faced by the affordable housing development community.  Students will propose new forms of housing  that is local in scale, but with an awareness s of national and global issues.Completed.


  • Professor of Architecture Julee Herdt's Green Technology class was featured in a January 11, 2010, Boulder Daily Camera article, which describes the students' recent design projects constructed from ReSource construction waste and found objects. The article also  describes an upcoming "green build" project that she and  Kellen Schauermann and the CU BioSIP research team will be building at  ReSource's new Arapahoe site in Boulder.  The "Solar-powered BioSIP Research Structure" will be used by ReSource as a site office and is a continuation of Julee and her studio and Green Tech students' long-standing relationship with ReSource and Boulder's Center for  Resource Conservation.  The new structure is funded through a State of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) waste  diversion research grant, Heimbold Foundation funding for renewable energy research, Simple Solar renewable energy in education support, and University  of Colorado backing. View Full Story and video on <> . Completed.



  • Lei Shi and John Hillyard, B.ENVD students, along with faculty advisor, Harry Koutsis, Lecturer in Architecture, qualified as  finalists for the 2010 Mock Architecture Firm Design Competition. The team presented their concept, VeRV Design Studio's "Community Knot," in Chicago, April 15-17, 2010, as part of this year's theme of "Global Challenges: Architectural Solutions." It focuses on an International Skyscraper Challenge, which seeks to achieve innovative dwelling solutions through the design of vertical communities.  The Community Knot building is self-sustaining in energy and consumables and seeks to address environmental and social challenges in Mexico City.  The project was awarded Top Entry                  Presentation and Runner-up for Top American Mock Firm.Completed.   


  • Louise Chawla is working with a PhD student on a project begun with several ENVD students in response to Boulder resident concerns about the use of weed mitigation chemicals known to have adverse health effects. This work will result in publication and dissemination of a fact sheet with recommendations that should be useful to local government officials and HOAs. Completed.


  • Doug Ragan, PhD student affiliated with the Children, Youth and Environments Center, gave a keynote presentation  at the International Congress and Forum on Urban Sustainability "City for All" in Qazvin, Iran,  entitled "A City for  All: The Engagement of Communities Through Participatory Planning," focused on his experiences in engaging marginalized communities in  North America, Africa and Latin America. The purpose of the congress was to better understand how urban space relates to sustainable development by engaging researchers and  professionals. It was sponsored by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development of Qazvin, the International Art & Architecture Research Association                (IAARA) and UN-HABITAT.Completed.


  • On April 30, 5th-grade students from Garden Place Academy ES visited the Boulder campus to be “College Students for a Day.” Coming from Globeville, one of Denver’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods, the children had a unique opportunity to talk with ENVD students, touring the campus, seeing a dorm, and teaming up with them to design tree houses that they presented in a pin-up at the end of the day. Organized by Melissa Surratt, PhD student and CYE- administrative assistant, assisted by APSG.Completed.


  • Willem van Vliet- worked with 12 senior ENVD students to develop a community profile of Ponderosa Mobile Home Park in Boulder. The report is to help provide a foundation for conversations among the residents, the county, city and other relevant stakeholders about how best to protect a precious source of affordable housing.Completed.


  • In the fall of 2010, the elective course ENVD 4363 “Designing With/For Schools” provided 19 students the opportunity to explore the relationships between pedagogy, design processes, and the practice of learning space design through in class discussions of relevant literature and case studies; reflective writing assignments; and hands-on, collaborative design activities conducted with a group of local middle school students. Topics covered throughout the semester included participatory design, creative processes, place attachment, buildings that teach, sustainable design, and healthy learning environments. The course met two days per week. The first class meeting occured on the CU campus where students participated in seminar-style critical discussions to prepare them for service learning activities. The second meeting of the week took  place at Casey Middle School where CU students coordinated design activities for 6th-8th grade students enrolled in an applied science elective class. During the spring 2011 semester the CU and Casey students will design and construct an outdoor learning space together. Casey Middle School is housed in a new, LEED Gold building, making this course a unique opportunity for students to learn firsthand about “green school” design.Completed and being extended.Instructor: Laura Malinin.


ENVD student quote:


 “Overall out of all the classes I have taken in my college career I think this class is definitely one of the classes I will remember the most … My favorite part of this whole class was helping the students with their activities and just interacting with them and getting to know them. All of the activities the college students came up with I felt was really fun but also very educational not only about the topic, … but also working together as a group, working through different kinds of problems, and planning their entire projects.”


  • Last Fall as well, students in the ENVD 2120 Urban Planning and Design studio worked with the City of Boulder Department of Planning and Sustainability to identify "sustainable urban form" for Boulder as part of the City’s "Sustainable Streets and Centers" project that is to inform its
    comprehensive plan.  The work was presented to the city and campus
    architect, and will be discussed with them by the instructors this semester.

    They studied the Arapahoe corridor, conducting site analyses and creating proposals for sustainable urbanform with design guidelines and policy guidelines.  Policies and proposals were also evaluated in terms of
    the metric LEED for Neighborhood Development.Completed. Instructors: David Kahn and Michael Tavel.


  • In an Environmental Impact Assessment class taught by Fidel Santos last fall, students undertook projects on a variety of real world situations, locally and internationally, including a Lake Erie wind farm, the Valmont power plant, Boulder transit village, Betasso Water treatment plant pipeline project, Masdar City, United Arab Emirates, Three Gorge dam, China, and the Trans-Amazonian roadway.Completed.


  • The Growing Up Boulder Initiative is a partnership between CU, BVSD, and the City of Boulder, working in collaboration with several non-profit organizations and Boulder youth. It offers a framework for youth engagement in the local community. CYE has provided leadership and coordination for the Initiative. The attachment to this report summarizes activities and accomplishments during the last year.Ongoing.


  • This Spring, David Kahn is teaching a Landscape Architecture studio (ENVD 4363) in which students will creating a landscape-masterplan for the ENVD grounds, working with campus facilities management. The intent is that the plan will be implemented this summer after review by the campus design review committee.Ongoing.


  • Students in this Spring’s Planning Studio 3 (ENVD 4320), taught by Willem van Vliet--, are conducting a study of residential preferences of campus constituencies, nearby businesses and current residents in the area north of Boulder Creek and south of Arapahoe, between 17thSt. and Folsom to inform planned redevelopment of this area  by CU Boulder.Ongoing.


  • Students in a design studio taught by Rob Pyatt are working with Studio Arts Boulder to produce a design proposal for a site and building that SAB plans to develop, providing studio spaces, classes, and gallery space. The art center will offer an artist-in-residency program and space for teens, seniors, people with disabilities and artist of all ages to explore studio arts in completely self-sustainable, environmentally sound, state-of-the-art facilities dedicated to energy efficiency and zero waste.Ongoing.


  • CYE has started work with the Family Learning Center’s in its after-school program. Seeking to catalyze CU resources to the benefit of the community, it has reached out to the School of Education, the Writing and Rhetoric Program and the Museum of Natural History to partner in a cross-campus MOU with FLC in order to establish a more formal framework for collaboration.  We expect that other departments and colleges on campus will be willing to join as well.Ongoing.


While there are more projects and courses in Environmental Design in which students are currently engaging with real-world issues in the local community or elsewhere, this overview is not meant to be comprehensive, but intended to be indicative of the augmented profile of community engagement in the Environmental Design curriculum. 


Today, we are seeing more courses, more faculty and more students involved in a variety of community engagement projects than two years ago.  Environmental Design is in the second year of implementing a new four-year curriculum. However, there’s a long way to go. Nonetheless, while there is uncertainty regarding the program’s future, there are grounds for optimism that the current transition will lead to strong and stable support in the future.   The IECE model grant has funded essential administrative support that enabled us to undertake numerous community engagement and service learning activities, while weathering a period of significant change.



Of the $21,000 awarded by IECE, the remaining balance on January 21, 2011, was $2,321.58. All of the used funds have been allocated in support of administrative assistance, as per the terms of the MOU.