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Annual Urban Design Studio

Date: November 19, 2008
Phone: 269-471-6003

During their final year of study at Andrews University, architecture students take part in the annual Urban Design Studio, a planning workshop that seeks to help an area in need. This year, the project took 26 graduate architecture students to the Great Abaco Island of the Bahamas from Sept. 21–Oct. 1, 2008. The trip, co-directed by Andrew von Maur and Troy Homenchuk, assistant professors of the School of Architecture, set out to create a vision of the future for the Great Abaco Island by focusing on South Abaco and Central Marsh Harbour. The group created goals to prepare South Abaco for sustainable development, shape the Marsh Harbour neighborhoods, prepare Sandy Point and Crossing Rocks for opportunities to grow and help Great Abaco avoid urban sprawl through different plans and designs.
“The community in general was very receptive to our team and our work. Community leaders in government, the activist and the private development sector were especially interested in our contributions and are very hopeful that our body of work will help to transform building culture on Great Abaco and the Bahamas in general,” said von Maur.
Two introductory presentations, followed by a pair of public design reviews, were held for the community members. The feedback from the public participation, local citizens and the government equipped students to better understand the needs of the island. Following the meetings, a final public presentation was held just two days before the students returned to the States.
Since 1997, Andrews has patterned the Urban Design Studio according to the principles set out by “The New Urbanism”—an international movement promoting the building of communities matching the School’s mission. Every year, the studio tackles a project in a real community by hosting a “charrette,” an intense, concentrated and collaborative design workshop. These design sessions are constructed to bring people together, create vision and lay down guidelines to promote the building and preservation of rural and urban landscapes.
All of the work involved was built upon existing information, studies, planning efforts and regulations. Its primary goal was to compose a final summary document that would serve as a set of guidelines, legal mechanisms, illustrations, codes and ordinances to be adopted by local jurisdictions and leaders in the community. Plans are in order to refine the proposals and generate them into a final document to be presented to the Abaco community near the end of 2008.

-Written by Ashleigh Jardine, student news writer, Office of Integrated Marketing & Communication

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Berrien Springs, Michigan 49104