Our college is one of the few institutions in the country that houses a complete range of design, construction and planning disciplines within the same academic unit. Architecture, building construction, interior design, landscape architecture, urban and regional planning and historic preservation teach students real-world problem solving skills and encourage active participation in communities in order to be responsible citizens.

Intelligent solutions to the problems of planning, designing and building sustainable communities emerge, as John Dewey asserts, “as a result of reflective action and experience” gained through community-based projects. These community building activities extend to every county in the state and more than 25 countries around the globe.

A world map locating our community outreach was featured in the latest issue of the DCP magazine “Perspective-Building Community.” View map. View magazine.

DCP supports 15 interdisciplinary research centers and institutes that have extensive track records of funded and pro-bono projects in the areas of community design and planning, affordable housing, sustainability, historic preservation, and health and public safety.

In addition to the DCP research centers, the Florida Community Design Center is a unique partnership between the City of Gainesville, Alachua County, the Chamber of Commerce and faculty at the University of Florida. The Design Center organizes its efforts in four areas: exhibits, events, projects and a community archive. Recent exhibits have included “19 Flavors of Home: Housing in Alachua County” and “Spatial Stories: 140 years of African-American History in Gainesville.” Conceptual design projects include the Archer Recreation Center, East Gainesville Master Plan and the University Avenue/SW 2nd Avenue Corridor. The Florida Community Design Center serves as a meeting place for residents and business people committed to improving the community’s environmental quality. Faculty from the School of Architecture, including Kim Tanzer, Martin Gold, Charlie Hailey and Gary Ridgdill, have played a crucial role in the Center’s development.

Recent Community Design, Planning and Construction projects in College Academic Units

School of Architecture

Students from three studios in the School of Architecture worked closely with a public-private partnership to develop conceptual plans for “off the grid” house designs and an Energy Research Institute in “Sky,” a proposed development in rural Calhoun County. Sky is promoted as the largest energy sufficient community in the country and is supported in part by a grant from the State of Florida to promote innovations in sustainable energy use. Professors Mark McGlothlin, Charlie Hailey and William Tilson directed the project. A studio of graduate landscape architecture students worked in parallel with the architecture group to analyze the Sky master plan and propose sustainable solutions to land use and storm water management. The landscape architecture studio was led by Kay Williams and Gail Hansen.

M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Building Construction

The Rinker School of Building Construction has six students in Tanzania for a research project this summer as part of the new International Research Experience in East Africa, a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s Office of International Science and Engineering. During the nine-week project, students will research sustainable construction within the East African context in collaboration with Ardhi University and the University of Dar es Salaam. The research is focusing on sustainable construction elements such as building materials, a reclaimed and recycled water supply and thermal comfort for heating and cooling. At the end of the project, the students will use their research findings to design and construct a demonstration building for a local town. The project coordinators are Drs. Esther Obonyo and Robert Ries.

Department of Interior Design

Seniors from the Department of Interior Design helped develop design solutions for rehabilitating and adaptively reusing the original 1958 Riverview High School complex near Siesta Key in Sarasota, Fla. A seminal post-World War II school design by renowned U.S. architect Paul Rudolph (1918-1997), Riverview High was scheduled for demolition. Following outcry from the architecture and design community, the Sarasota Architectural Foundation collaborated with UF students on the Riverview High School Adaptive Reuse project to save the building. Advocates for the restoration hope their campaign will serve as a benchmark for the preservation of Modern architecture. The project was lead by Professors Candy Carmel-Gilfilen and Morris Hylton III.

Department of Landscape Architecture

A Graduate Studio in the Department of Landscape Architecture led by Professor Kay Williams developed designs for an interior courtyard at the Psychiatric Ward at the VA Hospital in Gainesville. Students conducted research into needs and behaviors of psychiatric patients, staff concerns, microclimate modification, rooftop gardens and cost effectiveness within a projected budget. Their therapeutic environments emphasized a mix of active and passive activities, security and safety, and mitigation of existing institutional character. This detailed project emerged from a larger 2006 senior project by landscape architecture student Ryan Renuart, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, to improve conditions for hospitalized veterans. The hospital hopes to use student work to raise money and awareness. Supporters have discussed the possibility of funding one therapeutic garden a year at VA hospitals across the country.

Department of Urban and Regional Planning

Graduate students in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning under the direction of Dr. Joseli Macedo developed proposals for the Archer Braid Multi-use Trail connecting Gainesville and the City of Archer. The trail emerged as the top priority addition to improve connectivity of the bicycle network in Alachua County according to a 2004 Transporting Ecologies Study. The students researched emerging concepts of sustainable development, smart growth principles and strategies for creating livable communities that were applicable to the Archer Braid project. Geographic Information Systems modeling (GIS) was employed to help determine the preferred alignment of the Archer Braid. The project was conducted in collaboration with an architecture studio directed by Professor Martin Gold and a landscape architecture studio run by Professor Tina Gurucharri.

Historic Preservation Studies

Graduate students from the University of Florida’s College of Design, Construction and Planning Historic Preservation Program gave a public presentation at Sala de Montiano Auditorium in the Government House at 48 King Street in St. Augustine, Fla. The students shared their preservation and design solutions in neighborhood conservation for the Abbott Tract and adjacent San Marco Avenue. The UF students worked with the City of St. Augustine’s Department of Heritage Tourism and with private organizations in the city, and their research affiliates, on the social history, the architectural styles and building practices, and the preservation and economic potential of this area. Roy E Graham, FAIA, director of the college’s historic preservation program coordinated the project.

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