The urban design studio of UB met at a community event on March 7th.
Students and faculty discussed the studio’s design proposals for Bailey Commons, a community-led development that will transform a series of vacant lots between Zenner and Kilhoffer streets into a mix of green open spaces, play areas and new urban infrastructure and housing would.
The studio’s teaching team – Conrad Kickert, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urban Design, School of Architecture and Planning, and Joy Kuebler, a nationally respected landscape architect – applied a playful design process to create an inclusive and fun environment for residents to share their ideas for the future district center.
Activities included walking tours of the neighborhood, design-themed card games, collages, role-playing games, and using everyday objects like boxes and buckets to try out design ideas.
“Instead of designing and presenting, the students co-created suggestions for improving the neighborhood through an intensive collaborative process called placemaking,” says Kickert. “This process invites us not to jump to conclusions, but to listen, engage, play, and iteratively develop new ideas with community members.”
The studio is backed by Harmac Medical Products, a longtime anchor of Bailey Green and the neighborhood’s largest employer. For the past decade, under the direction of John Somers, Harmac has engaged faculty and students from the School of Architecture and Planning in neighborhood planning and design projects that promote a more vibrant, sustainable and healthier Bailey Green. This work has already resulted in a housing development, green spaces and an urban farm.
Bailey Commons will continue to take shape with community contributions, with the potential for multiple items to be advanced as UB-led design-build projects.
“Our ultimate goal is to empower community members to evolve our designs after the studio ends and make a positive impact on the ground through achievable, supported design interventions,” says Kickert.
Saturday’s event included design presentations by students, opportunities to listen to local residents who had participated in the design process, and a “skill park” where neighborhood children could build imaginative structures using real tools and scrap materials.
Community organizations hosted their own tables, with healthy food demonstrations by local retailers, seed stations and a toy and bike raffle by the Stop the Violence Coalition.