For two years the University of Colorado Boulder faculty and students and the city of Boulder have partnered on projects addressing community design issues for the University Hill area.
On Feb. 1, Uni Hill residents and the Boulder community are invited to a gathering at the Boulder Public Library to learn about the students’ work and to discuss a new initiative, the Public Art and Community Engagement project.
The project brings together teams of CU Boulder students and faculty working with the University Hill community to conceptualize, design and fabricate public art inspired by the Hill area, says Brian Muller, director of CU Boulder’s Community Engagement, Design and Research (CEDaR) Center, which has coordinated the overall community design effort on Uni Hill.
“The students will install a work of art that responds to the perspectives of community residents and enhances the life of the neighborhood,” Muller says. “This project expresses a philosophy of service that links innovative design and teaching with outreach and discussion with the community.”
During the past two years CEDaR has helped organize classes that have engaged more than 200 students in University Hill projects. Attendees of the Feb. 1 event will have an opportunity to interact with some of these students and discuss results of a community engagement process that includes surveys and interviews students conducted with Hill residents and business owners, as well as initial public art concepts.
In the next few months, a group of 12, third-year students will be designing, fabricating and installing the piece of public/community art, while focusing on energizing the community and bringing together stakeholders, says Marcel de Lange, assistant clinical professor of environmental design. The students are participating in their praxis semester, a design class that focuses on design-build education with community partners and “real clients.”
“By keeping in touch with the community and having an art advisory board involved we hope to transform a new generation of ENVD students to be socially responsible, sustainable, “master” builders and at the same time deliver an inspirational project to the University Hill neighborhood,” de Lange says.
The project is part of a broader partnership between the city and university to develop innovative design for the city of Boulder, and is affiliated with the nationwide MetroLab initiative, pairing research universities with nearby cities to solve design, technology, engineering and other community issues. This project is also the product of a continuing effort on the part of both the university and the city to discuss and develop solutions to problems of rapidly-growing neighborhoods adjoining the university.
Participating faculty include Beth Osnes, associate professor, theatre & dance; Nii Armah Sowah, senior instructor, theatre & dance; Marcel de Lange, assistant clinical professor, environmental design; Brian Muller, associate professor, environmental design; Jota Samper, assistant professor, environmental design; and Stacey Schulte, senior instructor, environmental design. The CU Boulder Office for Outreach and Engagement and Program in Environmental Design has supported the effort. The event is free and open to the public, but online RSVPs are requested.