A team of five University of Hartford Master of Architecture (MArch) students recently won the Dream Green, Hartford EcoDesign competition sponsored by the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation and hosted by the City of Hartford Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. The competition requested proposals to improve the city through “pop-up” projects that transform underused city spaces while highlighting green infrastructure and sustainable design.
The Hartford MArch students’ winning design submission proposes a new “5 Corners” pocket park that contains interactive structures to promote learning, socializing, and playing on an underused lot in North Hartford. The 5 Corners site is adjacent to the Swift Factory, which is currently being redeveloped by Community Solutions to bring needed jobs back to the neighborhood. However, even with the new construction, limited site modifications are planned for the corner lot, except for a bio-swale along the north side of the site and adjacent to the factory building. The MArch team’s design seeks to enhance the notion of “Live, Work, Play” in the neighborhood by formally developing the corner site into a social and recreational hub for the community.
The 5 Corners Park will provide numerous activities in the predominately residential neighborhood while educating residents about the advances in the city’s green infrastructure, including the on-site bio-swale. Using mostly salvaged and donated materials, neighborhood volunteers will help construct an information kiosk, community garden raised planters, a play structure, and a reading bench complete with a small community lending library. The design team plans to engage community groups in the coming year to optimize the park’s interactive content to meet the needs of the neighborhood residents of all ages.
To implement the design, the graduate students along with the Architecture Department’s student-led Freedom by Design chapter will engage community members through a series of community charrettes to further develop the design and through volunteer construction workshop days. The city will contribute funds toward the construction of the park, and the Freedom by Design group will seek additional construction funding through various grants.
The winning student-design team members are second-year MArch students Nabila Ahmed, Brian Gonzalez, Alexis Hoff, Katie Scanlon, and Patrick Spichal. Their project was generated as part of a graduate design studio course taught by Associate Professor Seth Holmes. The 4-week studio project provided an opportunity for graduate students to explore working in an integrative design team using iterative and analytical design methods based on site-based observations and real-world design requirements. Additionally, a number of undergraduate students from UHart’s Bachelor of Science in Architectural Design + Technology degree program engaged with the project during a one-hour design charrette during instructor Terri Hahn's Site Planning course.
The University of Hartford’s Master of Architecture program focuses its two-year professional curriculum on urban environmental and social sustainability through course offerings, design studio projects, faculty research, and community outreach. The program’s community-engaged projects and travel design studios address urban design challenges in local neighborhoods (Hartford), regional centers (New York, Boston, Montreal), and international destinations (Peru, Italy, Cuba). This economical MArch program provides students with an accredited professional degree based on a pedagogy that universally considers people, place, and process. The 5 Corners project is a testament to how University of Hartford students can work together to improve the built environment through a more holistic, socially engaged design process.
Prospective students interested in the University of Hartford Master of Architecture program should inquire here.