Arlington Urban Design Center collaboration earns statewide award
The Arlington Urban Design Center has won the prestigious 2011 Current Planning Award from the American Planning Association Texas Chapter.
Students from The University of Texas at Arlington’s Schools of Urban and Public Affairs and School of Architecture have partnered with City of Arlington professionals in the center to speed along design projects, civic space planning, beautification projects and redevelopment opportunities.
Since opening in 2009, the center has taken on more than 70 projects, among them are endeavors in the downtown area and near UT Arlington. The center is available to assist private business, nonprofits and other interests that may not have the resources to renovate or design, said Lyndsay Mitchell, city of Arlington Planning Project Manager.
Barbara Becker, dean of the UT Arlington School of Urban and Public Affairs, said the partnership has produced real-world success.
“These are the kinds of partnerships that we value as an institution,” Becker said. “The students who work there will be ready to hit the ground running once they graduate.”
Don Gatzke, dean of the UT Arlington School of Architecture, said the center has exceeded expectations thus far.
“Our students have risen to the challenge,” Gatzke said. “It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement as accomplished graduate students gain experience while helping the city.”
Charles Green, an Arlington property owner and accountant, has used the center for properties he owns on Abrams Street.
“I have an older building that’s been around 50 years,” Green said. “The young people came over here, looked at the space, saw what the needs were and made suggestions. We’ve instituted some of those design recommendations. They did an extremely good job.”
One of the students who has worked at the center is Drew Brawner, a School of Urban and Public Affairs graduate student.
“This is hands-on experience you can gain outside the classroom,” Brawner said. “This is something I can give people who interview me to show them what I’m capable of doing.”
Brawner said one of the most interesting projects the center has worked on was the property just east of Arlington High School.
He said the Heart of Arlington Neighborhood Association approached the center in that case to ask how development and redevelopment could be shaped or transformed into what residents wanted.
“We discovered a grocery store hole in central Arlington,” Brawner said. “That’s information we can take to property owners or developers as recommendations for who might be suitable for that tract of land.”
The Urban Design Center is representative of the many collaborations taking place at The University of Texas at Arlington, a comprehensive research institution of 33,449 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.
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