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Small urban green spaces work to integrate nature into built environments, offering great benefit to our overall environment. They filter pollutants and dust from the air, provide shade and lower temperatures in urban areas, and reduce erosion of soil into our waterways and preserve wildlife. In addition, recent studies show that green space in towns and cities could lead to significant and sustained improvements in mental health (published in the journal of Environmental Science & Technology).
This series of courses challenges students to develop a series of urban green spaces. Using AutoCAD, students will create a digital prototype to illustrate their design concept.
At the beginner level, students submit designs and plans for a city parklet. Parklets provide an economic solution for making aesthetic enhancements to the streetscape. They secure a space by repurposing parking spots or underutilized sidewalk space. Many cities have adopted programs to reclaim unused swaths of land and quickly and inexpensively turn them into new public spaces. Parklet spaces have cropped up in metered parking spots and unused corners in major cities including San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Parklets can be designed to be permanent fixtures, or temporary and seasonal in places where snow removal is a concern.
At the intermediate level, students are challenged to create a site plan for a small green space--a "pocket park." Pocket parks are small urban green spaces surrounded on three sides by existing commercial or residential buildings with one side open to the street, forming a “pocket.” Pocket parks offer city communities a green space to support passive activities such as relaxing, reading, picnicking, or meeting friends. Pocket parks are easily accessible by foot and are found sprinkled through a city environment serving a specific neighborhood, as opposed to serving residents city-wide. They vary in size and style and are increasing in popularity, often used to revitalize vacant lots or compliment a new large development project.
At the advanced level, students create a site plan for an urban green space of their choosing.