Urban art

By By Lauren Mangelson

By Lauren Mangelson

Students will investigate “Both Sides of the TRAX” in an exhibition of projects that look at the relationships between communities and the spaces they inhabit today.

The exhibition, which will take place on Pierpont Avenue as part of the April Gallery Stroll, will showcase student projects covering eight different fundamental areas of urban planning: local business, affordable housing, civic space, social services, historic preservation, economic development, neighborhood planning and transportation.

This exhibition caps off the yearlong Honors course “People and Places: Experiences in Community Development,” being taught for the first time this year through the College of Architecture and Planning.

The course was developed through the University Professorship Program, which awards special professor status to at least one outstanding faculty member yearly. The recipient is awarded $10,000 for the purpose of launching an undergraduate program or course.

Last year’s recipients were Mimi Locher and Keith Bartholomew, who designed the class to serve as a bridge between architecture and urban planning through the use of human and social sciences. Most students enrolled in the class are sophomores majoring in architecture or urban planning.

The class began last Fall Semester with students being placed in eight small groups and matched up with a mentor in the community. Mentors were selected from various local nonprofit, governmental and private-sector architecture and urban planning firms.

The eight different groups were assigned various projects focusing on one of the eight specific categories. One group of students has spent its time working with transportation consultants and presented its project to officials from the Utah Department of Transportation and the Utah Transit Authority

Another group focused its project on the development and reconstruction of the downtown block known as Greektown. Its project has included lobbying the Greek community and organizing support in naming a future TRAX station Greektown. It will be presenting to the UTA board later this month.

Mimi Locher, assistant professor in the college of architecture and planning, said her students are doing a great job and have “exceeded expectations.” Locher also said that a couple of the participating students have been offered jobs with the firms they have been working in conjunction with.

“This class has made these students realize that they do have the power to make change,” Locher said. “This has given them an opportunity to think creatively.”

Marc Duncan, a junior urban planning major, said the best thing about the class was being able to work so closely with a mentor who has so much experience. Duncan and his fellow students did most of their learning outside the classroom, spending as many as 15 hours of their own time out in the community gathering information.

Duncan said he would “absolutely” recommend the class to other students. “This has by far been the most incredible class I’ve taken.”