Street Smarts

Students remake unused Arlington city block into functional streetscape

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Purpose and vision melded perfectly on an April Saturday in “Downtown Front and Center,” a project conceptualized and executed by students from the School of Urban and Public Affairs and the School of Architecture.

Led by SUPA Assistant Professor Andrew Whittemore, the project studio students transformed a portion of Front Street between Center and Mesquite as well as the adjacent city-owned vacant lot into a pulsing thoroughfare for the University and Arlington communities.

The students used paint to turn streets into sidewalks, brought in plantings, and arranged games and seating. They invited health and fitness instructors and numerous artists. Local businesses sold food and products.

I see this as part of UT Arlington’s wider goal of providing students with a vibrant living environment as we enhance the University,” Dr. Whittemore says. “We wanted to create an idea of what downtown Arlington could be and familiarize attendees with what it already has.”

More than 40 vendors participated, including Potager Café, Bike Friendly Arlington, Friends of Arlington Animal Services, and the Grease Monkey Burger Shop and Social Club.

Events like these have the potential to spark more economic development while encouraging local citizens to make it happen,” Whittemore says. “It’s a great way to connect downtown businesses with the student market, in short helping UT Arlington move even further past its image as a commuter school.”

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