ARCH 480 (Architectural Design Studio 4, instrs. Zeljka Carol Kekez & Mauricio Villarreal), Fall 2013

Placemaking: Urban Palimpsest: Corridor in the City / City in the Corridor

In this fourth-year studio course, taught by Zeljka Carol Kekez and Mauricio Villarreal, principals of Place Architecture, students explored the implied and inherent values of the urban environment, both visible and understood, while examining the potential offered by historic structures to connect communities, generate economic activity, and inspire bold design solutions. The studio focused on the Prairie Line Trail Corridor in downtown Tacoma, Washington, challenging students to investigate and analyze the contextual relationship of this area and the city of Tacoma, and examine fundamental urbanistic issues within the city in order to create site-specific design proposals in order to improve the urban condition. 

An archaeological term, "palimpsest" suggests the act of scraping away a layer of writing in preparation for the inscription of new words. Extending this idea into the realm of architecture, it might be used to describe accumulated iterations of a design or a site, whether in literal layers of archaeological remains or the figurative accumulation and reinforcement of design ideas over time.

Engines of civilization, cities are the embodiment of layering ways of utilizing contemporary ideas to recapture the values of the past and create a promising future. Examining how architects utilize concepts of placemaking, this studio focused on exploring specific methods for understanding urban scenarios, asking questions regarding the importance of the layers of meaning within a city, why we build cities in unlikely places, the relative wisdom of engaging in urban interventions along strips of land next to railroad tracks, and what it takes to reclaim a city's past and appropriate it for the future. 

Visiting the Prairie Line in Tacoma

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