The Landscape Architecture program continued its tradition of community-engaged studio work this fall by partnering with the City of Cleveland, Tennessee, to craft redevelopment visions for an 850-acre study area adjacent to downtown.
The student proposals were prepared in collaboration with the City Planning Office, the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, and Impact Cleveland as part of the university’s new Smart Communities Initiative, a service-learning program that uses the classroom as a creative resource for communities across the state.
Cleveland is the first community partner of the Smart Communities Initiative, now mid-way through its pilot year.
At the heart of their study was the potential future uses of post-industrial sites that were once home to thriving industries. These properties and their supporting infrastructure were once economic and social centers for the city. Now they sit idle in the city and are physical and psychological barriers between the residents of the Oldfield/Blythe neighborhood and downtown Cleveland.
“The shifting economic landscape and the vacancy of urban industrial sites in Cleveland, Tennessee, is indicative of economic and environmental challenges faced by other post-industrial cities throughout the Southeast and the United States,” said Brad Collett, the landscape architecture faculty member who led the Cleveland studio. “The manner in which these sites can be leveraged as resources and repurposed to absorb future population growth, stimulate economic development, and again function as performing landscapes capable of enhancing the quality of life of a community are issues we as landscape architects must be prepared to address.”
Student concepts for the future of these Cleveland sites ranged in focus from urban agriculture hubs to educational campuses, transient-oriented mixed-use developments, and arts and innovation corridors. Many investigated new models for industrial incubation facilities that may be woven into the neighborhood fabric while reconnecting with the city’s heritage of craftmaking and entrepreneurship.
Each concept sought to build upon the city’s industrial history, existing infrastructure, grassroots strengths, and the ‘can do’ sprit of the Blythe/Oldfield neighborhood, while enabling city leaders and stakeholders to imagine bold new futures for their community.
“It’s a great thing to see this kind of imagination for renewing the area,” said Gary Farlow, president and CEO of the Cleveland/Bradly Chamber of Commerce, following student presentations to the community on December 10.
The University of Tennessee Landscape Architecture program is offered through a collaboration between the College of Architecture and Design and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. This graduate program is the only program in Tennessee offering an accredited professional education in landscape architecture.
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