Community-Engaged Design is nothing new to the Interior Architecture department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, but the establishment of our Center for Community-Engaged Design (CC-ED) has provided a structure and space for community-engaged design in Greensboro. Dating back to the Commencement Houses of 1958, ‘59 and ’65, students in the School of Home Economics at Woman’s
College (now UNCG) worked with local architects and contractors to design and build single family homes in and around Greensboro. This tradition not only has continued but also has grown with more recent projects such asa school in Ghana and the work of Urban Studio 01, a home for an elderly couple whose house had been condemned, and Urban Studio 02, a facility of small suites for homeless teenage mothers. Other projects include a Salvation Army Select store, the Vance Chavis Library project, Greensboro Children’s Museum project, and a myriad of smaller design-build projects.
This work in a Department of Interior Architecture positioned in a College of Arts and Sciences at a public land grant university with neither a school of architecture nor a school of design is – to our knowledge – unprecedented. Further, Greensboro is one of the few cities of its size on the east coast not to have a community design center. Our department is privileged to provide this service to our community.
Our CC-ED formed at a critical time in the history of UNCG as the university has expanded into a nearby, historically working class neighborhood. This expansion of commercial and retail properties as well as student housing, a police station, and new recreation center provide an opportunity for meaningful community engagement through models of sustainable community design/build. In addition, there is a great
potential for interdisciplinary research and projects to come from this initiative. The nature of the CC-ED is to provide a structure and support for the long-term development of a robust and sustained community-engaged design program at UNCG, modeled after existing “Community Design Centers” from around the country.
On April 4, 2014, the Center for Community-Engaged Design dedicated a new space just off UNCG’s main campus, an incubator for these research and design projects. This dedication of space was coordinated with the inaugural two-day Novem Mason Symposium on Community-Engaged Design. This symposium helped to launch several research and design initiatives for the CC-ED, such as:
• Cottage Grove Initiative + Mustard Seed Community Health
• Re-Envisioning South Church Street, Action Greensboro + Piedmont AIA
• Glenwood Grove Mural, with UNCG Art Department + Community Volunteers
UNC Greensboro Department of Interior Architecture Center for Community-Engaged Design: Impacting a Campus…Engaging the Community 2
• Sustainable Glenwood Project, with Preservation Greensboro, Inc.
• Community Housing Solutions, various Glenwood houses
To date, the Center for Community-Engaged Design has engaged 125 UNCG students, faculty, and staff in at least 10 community-engaged projects, collaborating with over 100 community partners, to generate over 2,750 person hours of community engagement through the design of the built environment in and around Greensboro.