University of Houston
For over a decade, the faculty of the University of Houston Graphic Design Program spearheaded site-specific collaborations to move students beyond the classroom to address real world and community-based issues including environmental sustainability, neighborhood empowerment, and educational programming. The results of these investigations are temporary built environments and events that provide deliverable outcomes that served to inform, educate and engage.
While the main objective is to give voice to a community, it also provides an opportunity to immerse the students into the community, the locality of the site, and messaging. It is not always obvious to students that design can be a vehicle for social good. Through involvement in local efforts and neighborhoods, we hope to instill the potential for design to transform places and provide people with a public forum for expression.
While the outcomes of these one – two semester projects were successful in the short term, the colloquium presentation would examine long-term social impact. Three case studies would serve as talking points for discussion:
- The Park at Palm Center Pavilion: a hub in an active community garden
- Marfa Voices: a project by a design graduate student who felt discomfort in walking into and out of the lives of the locals
- Encounter: a series of short-term site-based installations which encouraged communities to shape development along the bayou.
The follow-up on these projects would look at assessments by students, community members and project stakeholders. The goal is to determine qualities for long term success within project constraints and to have a dialogue on case studies by other attendees to the colloquium.