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City/University partnership establishes Urban Design Center

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Monday, June 22, 2009

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Media Contacts:
Herb Booth, Office:817-272-7075, Cell:214-546-1082, hbooth@uta.edu
Sue Stevens

ARLINGTON - A dozen University of Texas at Arlington students and professors are going to work at City Hall in the new Urban Design Center, a partnership intended to speed along design projects, civic space planning, beautification projects and redevelopment opportunities.

The Center is located on the first floor of City Hall, 101 W. Abram St. It teams mostly graduate students and professors from the schools of Architecture and Urban and Public Affairs with city professionals in those disciplines. The City and University are hosting an open house from 10 a.m. to noon Friday, June 26, at the center.

Jim Parajon, Arlington's director of planning and development services, said the students who are aspiring to be planners or architects receive vital experience in those areas.

"The City and the University have mutual interests in seeing this program get rolling," Parajon said. "It's like having a mini-consulting firm working for the city and for its businesses and residents."

Donald R. Bobbitt, UT Arlington's provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the partnership will have a lasting impact on students and the Arlington community.

"We are pleased to offer the talents of our best graduate students in planning, architecture and landscape architecture to help shape the future of Arlington," Bobbitt said. "This partnership will allow creative collaboration between community leaders and our vibrant University."

Barbara Becker, dean of UT Arlington's School of Urban and Public Affairs, said graduate planning students and a couple of undergraduate students will "learn by doing" in teaming with city planning staff. The school has assigned six students and two faculty members to the project, which started June 11. They will staff the Center 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, Becker said.

"We are giving our students an opportunity to do real world projects," Becker said. "Arlington will benefit from the skills and creativity of our top-notch Institute of Urban Studies (in the School of Urban and Public Affairs) students."

Don Gatzke, dean of UT Arlington's School of Architecture, said both University divisions have "much to offer in assisting the city with issues of urban development" and said that the partnership offers students "an extraordinary learning opportunity."

"I'm optimistic that we'll bring some innovative thinking to a broad range of city and neighborhood projects that will make a real difference," Gatzke said. Architecture students started work at the Center Monday, June 22.

Call 817-272-3071 or 817-272-2801 for more information on the School of Urban and Public Affairs and the School of Architecture, respectively.

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