By combining local knowledge with design and planning expertise, Iowa State University's College of Design helps Iowa communities--small and large, rural and urban--identify assets and opportunities, set priorities and develop strategies to enhance the quality, character and vitality of their communities.
This spring, a multidisciplinary class of students from landscape architecture, interior design and architecture are developing design concepts for three southwestern Iowa communities--Clarinda, Red Oak and Shenandoah--to enhance local retail experiences and form regional connections that can strengthen the area's economy. Working with ISU Extension and Outreach's Iowa Retail Initiative, the Retail Scapes studio has engaged in the design process with chamber of commerce leaders, retailers, community volunteers, a professional architect and others who have a stake in the region's future. At the end of the semester, students will share their research, proposed design solutions, and resources these local partners can use for community or retail projects.
The Community Design Lab (CDL) collaborates with towns and organizations across Iowa to explore broad issues--health and wellness; social, economic and physical infrastructure; community revitalization--and develop innovative strategies that can be adapted to local conditions. In a new initiative funded by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, CDL is partnering with three communities--Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Cresco--to identify food system resources and needs for an "agricultural urbanism toolkit." The project will help raise awareness of and access to local food production and support organizations in agricultural urban planning, such as school gardens, agricultural hubs, community farms, edible landscaping and farmers markets. CDL will then develop a toolkit that can be used for similar projects by communities locally, regionally and nationally.
Local student volunteers harvest produce at the Cultivate Hope Urban Farm in the Time Check neighborhood of Cedar Rapids. - Photo courtesy of Matthew 25