iarc: COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

March 31, 2011 § 1 Comment

For this post, Patrick Lee Lucas reminds us of IARc’s long commitment to community.  In keeping with this focus on community, the UNC Board of Governors announced today that Patrick received the 2011 University of North Carolina Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award!! He received this honor, in part, because of his personal dedication to community.  More to come on Patrick and his work, but in the mean time, read more here and take a look at his explanation of IARc’s community engagement initiative.

At the beginning of the academic year, the IARc faculty confirmed an approach to telling about our work, tied to the latest initiative at the university, COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT.  IARc’s vision for community engagement dates to the mid-century, with first efforts to offer design-build studios – real world experiences sited in the community and working with community members – to students in both art and home economics.  When Gregory Ivy, a modern artist who founded the then Woman’s College Department of Art, first attracted architect Edward Loewenstein in 1957 to teach a studio course to design and build a single family dwelling, the architect leapt at the opportunity, looking to get women out of the classroom and into the field to learn practical lessons in building.  Dubbed as the COMMENCEMENT HOUSE by the university’s public relations department, two additional structures followed the original 1958 building in 1959 and 1965.  Throughout all three moments of community engagement, the studios afforded not only the design-build opportunity but a linkage to contractors, suppliers, design professionals, and volunteers who also helped shape the house.

And the experiences continued throughout the decades…with projects sited in the Greensboro community and beyond…with occasions for students to work with community residents and business professionals on projects of all scales…and with life-changing views of design in the world changing for students, faculty, and community.  In the last decade, the community engagement paradigm has successfully shaped several major projects: URBAN STUDIO 01, the design and construction of a single family home at 909 Dillard Street; THE LOEWENSTEIN LEGACY, an exhibit design studio to celebrate this community’s modernist buildings throughout the community; SEEDS FOR CHANGE, public awareness for the Greensboro bus system and a design-build project for a prototype bus shelter; SALVATION ARMY SELECT, re-branding and building the interior of a Salvation Army Store on North Elm Street; URBAN STUDIO 02, the planning and fabrication for a halfway house for pregnant teenage mothers; the GLOBAL STUDIO, designing and constructing a school building in Ghana; as well as a myriad of smaller projects, bringing research and action to the streets, and weaving the fabric of the community into the IARc experience.

As was the case five decades ago, these recent forays demonstrate the department’s very real commitment to community engagement, fundamental experiences from which all designers can build a lifetime practice of civic responsibility for design to affect positive change in the world.

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