Cleveland Design Lab

Cleveland DesignLab.  Applied Urban Regional Studies in the Great Lakes region

This initiative proposes the redesign of three graduate level courses housed in Taubman College to include an experiential learning component with the City of Cleveland as a laboratory for the study of complex urban phenomena in the Great Lakes Region. Following a pedagogical format based on the design studio model, the courses bring students out of the classroom to practice observation, analyze data, test hypotheses, and discuss design research with academics, practitioners, and local constituencies. The opportunity to generate applied knowledge through a reflective practicum is catalyzed by accessing and connecting with a network of institutions and organizations operating locally. The city of Cleveland offers a unique opportunity to sponsor this initiative owing to an established partnership with LAND Studio, a Cleveland non-profit organization devoted to “the creation of places and connecting people through public art, sustainable building and design, collaborative planning, and dynamic programming.” The principles of innovation, inclusivity, collaboration, design excellence and sustainability that define LAND Studio’s working approach align with our pedagogic goals and ensure that the learning experience for our students achieves the highest academic standards, and that disciplinary relevance is framed within contemporary professional practice.

The courses are open to a multidisciplinary body of students from Architecture, Urban Planning and Design, Landscape Architecture, and other programs in the School of Natural Resources.  Working across disciplines, the three courses prepare students to study the inter-connected relationships between urban systems, environmental issues, construction techniques, and cultural identity. The courses’ instruction emphasizes design thinking, creativity and technological literacy in the form of advanced visualization techniques. To prepare students to tackle the projects successfully, the courses incorporate multiple action-based components: site visits including client and stakeholders’ engagement, project development and presentation, and reviews with in-house and external guests. Apart from guest in-house lecturers and reviewers, every course will incorporate an expert-led workshop to advance techniques, methods and concepts relevant to the urban project under development. Together with the intense workshop and individual feedback for students, these experts will offer an open lecture presenting their work to all students in the College.

Project Team:
María Arquero de Alarcón, Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning
Jen Maigret, Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning
LAND Studio (Landscape, Arts, Neighborhoods, Development), local partnership at Cleveland