Ken Tamminga, professor of landscape architecture at Penn State, is conducting his Pittsburgh fourth and fifth-year “engaged studio” this fall in the post-industrial neighborhood of Hazelwood. The studio’s emphasis is on reciprocal learning and co-design to achieve robust solutions that can catalyze community investment and regeneration. Tamminga’s twelve students have made two whole-class visits to the site and a series of informal site visits. They will return once more in late November as a group for the final public presentations and open house. The first visit was to meet key stakeholders, provide students with an overview of Hazelwood, and help them chose a site for their semester projects. Subsequent visits emphasized place-based analyses and meeting with Hazelwood residents to gain a deeper understanding of local issues and aspirations. Some students chose to work on larger scale projects such as neighborhood-scale spatial design, parks and the stormwater system, while others chose to work on smaller sites.
Australian exchange student, Jess Lock, along with two classmates, chose the Hazelwood library site as their project site. Lock, a student from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, came to Penn State to spend the fall semester studying landscape architecture. Her experiences at Penn State and with this project have made for an enriching stay. “It is really immersive,” stresses Lock. As someone who has always wanted to work with the community on projects, she has gained the experience she desired by meeting with Hazelwood residents and learning about their needs and concerns for the library and it main street context.
Tamminga’s studio recently held a stakeholders charrette in downtown Hazelwood, during which local residents and students engaged in goal-setting and idea brainstorming on the project proposals. Lock noted that the community members had practical suggestions that the students had not considered, such as lighting and traffic, and attributed this to their different relationships and familiarity with the site. Lock says, “It was touching to see how many people care about their community and want to see it become better for the next generation. Some of the people have lived there all their lives.”
For Lock, spending time with the community members and learning from them have been the highlights of the project. “We won’t see these proposals get built. We just get the ball rolling for them,” Lock explains, “which makes the community members more relaxed and open about telling us what they want and need. We don’t put pressure on them. This is their community, and working together helps both of us learn how the process works.”
Tamminga’s students will return for a final formal visit as a group to present their final designs near the end of the semester, and Lock will return to Australia for her final semester, complete with a new appreciation for American football and snow. “I love the seasons here!” Lock exclaimed, “And the school pride! Everyone’s always wearing Penn State gear! I love it!” Lock is one in a line of Aussies who've been involved with the studio over the past 6 years, each one making an impression and contribution during their time on campus and in Tamminga’s studio.
Over the past six years, Tamminga’s Pittsburgh Studio has worked with stakeholders and residents in the inner-city and post-industrial neighborhoods of Beltzhoover, Larimer, the Hill District, West Pittsburgh, Carrick, South Homewood, Wilkinsburg, and several others. The Penn State Center in Pittsburgh has been a key partner in planning for and helping facilitate the studios each fall.
In early December, the Pittsburgh studio engaged another community, as Penn State's main website highlighted the work of the Tamminga and the students. Read the article at http://news.psu.edu/story/296735/2013/12/02/academics/landscape-architecture-students-bring-new-eyes-ideas-pittsburgh