Location: Wilkinsburg, Pittsburgh, PA Date: Spring 2019 With: Professor Stefan Gruber & Studio
This studio engaged urban milieus inductively and seeked strategic points of design intervention that can contribute to the ongoing transformation of neighborhoods in a meaningful way. Rather than obsessing over a final product, here design is explored as a tactical and performative tool for setting in motion a process of community engagement and supporting residents in shaping the environment they live in.
The Urban Collaboratory Studio partners with citizen initiatives for the revitalization of neighborhoods through co-design. In the Spring of 2019, the studio worked with Community Forge, an initiative transforming Wilkinsburg’s vacant Johnston Elementary School into a community center. Community Forge is committed to youth empowerment, community collaboration, organizational incubation and neighborhood wellbeing. The resulting urban design framework proposes an archipelago of islands programmed for diverse activities to be implemented incrementally over time. Aiming at setting in motion a transformation, in the last few weeks of the semester, the studio together with volunteers realized the first island: an educational landscape with colorful games and sports fields. A second “play island” will be implemented this summer.