Recent Initiatives

Feral UrbanismVacant/Wild/Ruined: Feral Urbanism
Spring 2020 architecture seminar led by senior lecturer Michael Allen

In this seminar, students explored the design, economics, and history of shrinking cities, and the practices and theories of renewing landscapes within them. Focusing on Old North St. Louis Neighborhood, they looked at tactics such as depletion, right-sizing, planned shrinkage, demolition, and land banking, among others. Learn more>>


Design in Social SystemsDesign in Social Systems
Spring 2020 Minor in Creative Practice for Social Change course led by assistant professor Penina Acayo Laker

In the first iteration of the required seminar for the Minor in Creative Practice for Social Change, students worked to develop case studies that highlight the work, creative practice, and impact of four St. Louis-based community organizations, while exploring different approaches to creative change making. Learn more>>


Architecture Through the Lens of Photography
Fall 2019 photography course led by senior lecturer Jennifer Colten

In this elective photography course, students from a range of disciplines learned the technical and conceptual frameworks for understanding architectural space through a camera lens. To develop their skills in photography and exploration, they focused on the architecture of Granite City, Illinois, and mounted an exhibit at the Granite City Art and Design District (G-CADD). Learn more>>


Design for Social Impact
Fall 2019 communication design course led by Louis D. Beaumont Artist-in-Residence Jude Agboada

Students in Design for Social Impact learned to utilize appropriate design research methods and tools to prioritize the needs of end users. They worked on several projects, including one that addressed challenges facing their peers in the Sam Fox School and one that dealt with families with infants making crucial medical decisions. Learn more>>



Developing Sustainable Urban Communities
Spring 2019 architecture and social work seminar, led by professor of practice Hank Webber and lecturer Matt Bernstine

In this interdisciplinary seminar, students studying architecture, urban design, and social work address the need for high-quality, vibrant, sustainable, and economically and racially diverse urban communities in the St. Louis region. Students worked with community development organizations in the West End and Dutchtown neighborhoods to address redevelopment challenges in neighborhoods in St. Louis. Learn more>>


In\Visible St. Louis: People, Place, and Power in the Divided City
Spring 2019 interdisciplinary seminar led by professor David Cunningham, associate professor Patty Heyda, and assistant professor Caitlyn Collins

Students from sociology, design, and adjacent disciplines examined segregation and inequality in the St. Louis region as embedded in a particular space and place, comprising both social and political relationships. In partnership with ArchCity Defenders, the students immersed themselves in history, theory, and contemporary academic debates surrounding issues of social justice in urban cities across the United States, also investigating the growing use of "e-carceration" tactics. Learn more>>


Transdisciplinary Design
Spring 2019 foundation design course, led by visiting assistant professor Alix Gerber

In this new studio course, students were challenged to practice approaching complex systems with a design mindset. Throughout the class, students explored both the MetroLink transit system and the US healthcare system. They examined how MetroLink seats, stations and maps impact the larger transit experience, and developed proposals to address staff needs in an orthopedics clinic. Learn more here>>


Spring 2019 undergraduate landscape architecture design studio, led by senior lecturer Jacqueline Margetts

Students proposed designs of ecological and public open space networks for sites along the historic Hodiamont Tracks, which will be converted to a greenway. They explored environmental and social systems underpinning landscape architecture through the development of design strategies based on the lives of specific insects. These strategies formed the basis for a toolkit for the Cornerstone Corporation and Great Rivers Greenway to use with community stakeholders in the West End neighborhood. Learn more here>>


Social Ecological Systems for Spatial Design
Spring 2019 architecture and urban design seminar, led by doctoral candidate Andrea Godshalk

As climate change and the rapid destruction of biodiversity threaten the functioning of human society, the investigation of the complex dynamics that drive change is essential to designing sustainable systems. In this seminar, students explored this context through social ecological systems theory and Ecological Economics, ultimately presenting a Talanoa Dialogue in collaboration with the OneSTL Sustainability Lab and prompting storytelling and dialogue about the reality of climate change. Learn more>>


Shared Sites
Design for Intergenerational Aging, Spring 2019 graduate architecture studio, led by professor of practice Valerie Greer

People are living longer, and older adults are expected to be one fifth of the population in coming decades. This growing demographic has unique needs in their physical environment, and they can be isolated from others, which is damaging to mental and physical health. Students developed concepts for intergenerational activities on sites in St. Louis and Hong Kong. Learn more>>


Documentary Photography & Social Practice
Spring 2019 Art Practice course, led by assistant professor Meghan Kirkwood

Students explored the philosophical, aesthetic, and technical approaches to photographing contemporary landscapes and communities. Through a variety of projects, students practiced making work that responds to context and tells the story of what they see and experience. For their final project, students completed a final portfolio work that explored a topic related to food access and security in St. Louis, working closely with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment>>


Inclusion & Neighborhood Resilience [v 2.0] Designing for Equity in Metamorphic Cities
Spring 2019 graduate architecture studio, led by assistant professor Catalina Freixas

Students explored revitalization of a vacant lot across from Fox Park and adjacent to a new non-profit space through mixed-income housing and space for social services addressing the needs of the evolving community. Students engaged with community stakeholders through interviews and focus groups, conducted systematic observations, and researched the neighborhood through archival data. They compiled their findings a book, and held an exhibition for the Fox Park community.>>


Enright Community Butterfly Garden
2018 Collaboration with the Enright Block Unit, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, and lecturer Micah Stanek

The Enright Community Butterfly Garden is a new social and ecological public space made in collaboration with a group of dedicated neighbors in the Lewis Place neighborhood. The Pulitzer Arts Foundation instigated the project and facilitated a conversation about new visions for a vacant lot. Lecturer Micah Stanek designed and developed a process for adapting the lot for butterflies and other pollinators, as well as for neighbor use and appreciation.>>


Planting Design
Spring 2018 landscape architecture seminar led by senior lecturer Rick Kacenski

In this required seminar, landscape students develop their vocabulary of plant material and learn about planting strategies, applying their new knowledge to a design exercise on a real site. In spring 2018, students developed proposals for a garden at the Washington Montessori Elementary School, the only public Montessori school in the state of Missouri, to redesign a neglected outdoor classroom and garden space.>>


Design and Research
Spring 2018 communication design seminar led by visiting assistant professor Alix Gerber

In this course, students learned the different meanings of “design research” through exploratory, evaluative, and speculative methods of research. To practice these methods, they dove into a real and pressing challenge in St. Louis: illegal dumping in neighborhoods. Their efforts helped make sense of this problem, and they proposed potential improvements as well as radically different worlds where waste is addressed fundamentally differently.>>


Foodscapes: Art Food Space Activism
Spring 2018 landscape architecture seminar led by lecturer Lynn Peemoeller

Students explored the design of the food experience, as well as the materiality, production, and policy surrounding food and how it impacts landscapes. Through observation and discussion with local partners engaged in the ecologies, economies, and cultures of food, students used food as the agent to engage with and activate urban environments.>>


Design for Social Impact
Fall 2017 Special Topics in Communication Design course led by assistant professor Penina Acayo Laker

Communication design students learned how designers can be involved in transformative social change through projects which addressed the use and abuse of opioids in a clinical setting. Students worked with the Center for Community Health Partnership & Research to develop new communication materials to help encourage minority populations to participate in health research.>>

Special Topics in Fashion: Fashion and Race
Fall 2017 fashion design seminar led by lecturer Rikki Byrd

Through an interdisciplinary approach to fashion, students explored the question: is the fashion industry racist? This course a critical look at how racial identities are formed and performed, how stereotypes are perpetuated, and how representations of identity connected to fashion. Each student completed a creative project that researched and explored questions at the intersection of fashion and identity. >>


Fashion Design Collaboration Studio
Fall 2017 class, led by Mary Ruppert-Stroescu (associate professor of fashion design), Christine Berg (associate professor of occupational therapy), and professor Mark Jakiela (Lee Hunter Professor of Mechanical Design)

A team of interdisciplinary students, led by faculty from the Sam Fox School, the School of Engineering & Applied Science, and the School of Medicine’s program in Occupational Therapy, created prototype garments tailored to the needs of athletes with disabilities—specifically, the Paralympic rugby team, the St. Louis Spartans. Learn more in this story and video.>>

School Design for Resilience
Fall 2017 architecture studio, led by assistant professor Catalina Freixas

Graduate and undergraduate architecture students developed real-world design solutions for a planned 100,000-square-foot elementary school in Eureka, Missouri. Working in collaboration with FGM Architects and local PK-12 educators and students in the Rockwood School District, the students’ proposals addressed resilience and included a “shocks and stresses analysis” to evaluate the building, community, and environment. View images of students’ final proposals and learn more about the course here. >>

Social Ecologies of Harlem
Spring 2017 and 2016 undergraduate landscape architecture studio led by senior lecturer Jacqueline Margetts

Undergraduate architecture students explored the practice, representation, and mindset of landscape architecture in this studio that addressed environmental designs in the Harlem Watershed in North St. Louis City. In parallel to efforts by a coalition of organizations and government, students proposed interventions that to create ecological and public open space networks. Work from two consecutive semesters of this studio was compiled into a book to spark ideas and inspiration.>>

Radical Design: Making Civic Experiences
Spring 2017 design seminar, led by Louis D. Beaumont Visiting Assistant Professor Alix Gerber

Students explored how the objects, interactions, and spaces that make up our political and economic systems can be re-designed in order to challenge the status quo. The final project focused on an essential civic moment—the experience of getting a library card—to examine societal value systems and issues of accessibility. Students imagined alternative future worlds, where we access public knowledge differently. Find out more here. >>

Tale of Two Cities: Documenting Our Divides
Fall 2016 art seminar, led by associate professor Denise Ward-Brown

Students worked in transdisciplinary teams to create documentary videos of street events, meetings, and interviews that capture the immediacy of modern segregation, urban unrest, and grassroots revitalization in St. Louis. Find out more here.>>



Inclusion and Neighborhood Resilience with IISTL
Fall 2016 graduate architecture studio, led by assistant professor Catalina Freixas

For this studio, graduate architecture students explored the urban context of the International Institute of St. Louis' former building on South Grand Boulevard, proposing adaptive reuse projects that include market-rate, affordable, and refugee housing, as well as creative programs to serve the surrounding neighborhood. Learn more about the studio here.>>


Apparel Strategy: Occupational Therapy and Fashion Collaboration
Fall 2016 class, led by senior lecturer Jennifer Ingram and associate professor Christine Berg

Fashion students worked in teams with occupational therapy students to design garments for clients with mobility or vision impairments, developing collections and selecting samples for specific wardrobe needs based on their occupations and activities. Learn more about their collaboration here.>>


Better Health Through Art
Fall 2016 graduate art workshop, led by professor Ron Fondaw

For this workshop, four MFA students created works of art for an Affinia Healthcare facility on South Broadway in St. Louis. Students interviewed clinic staff and patients, and in response, created works of art that were installed on-site. Each piece was designed to evoke a positive emotional response, promoting better health outcomes. Learn more about the workshop here.>>


Segregation by Design
Fall 2016 architecture seminar, led by assistant professor Catalina Freixas and professor Mark Abbott (Harris-Stowe State University)

Students from WashU and Harris-Stowe State University came together for this transdisciplinary seminar on issues of segregation, urban policy, and sustainability. Students worked in small teams to research and propose interventions for specific St. Louis neighborhoods. Learn more about the seminar here.>>


Propaganda to Decoration: Public Expression, Individual Voice, and the Persistence of Hope
Fall 2016 Art Practice course, led by professor Lisa Bulawsky

Students explored printmaking's inherent political and philosophical underpinnings as the "democratic medium," developing projects that related to the presidential election and the University-hosted Presidential Debate on October 9, 2016. Students executed three unique proposals that employed creative strategies for civic engagement, emphasizing hope and voice. Learn more about the course here.>>

Voice: vote, dammit. Campaign
Fall 2016 communication design studio, led by lecturer Scott Gericke

vote, dammit. was a student-led grassroots design and communication campaign targeted to students on campus, encouraging them to both register to vote and to get out to vote. The campaign consisted of social media engagement, environmental and public engagement, and print collateral. Learn more about the studio here.>>


Content to Cover: The Design of Books with Prison Performing Arts
Spring 2016 design studio, led by professor Ken Botnick

For this studio, students partnered with Prison Performing Arts' Alumni Theatre Company to develop an illustrated book of poetry, theater, and other work by participants. Students illustrated the participants' work and designed the final publication, which is available on demand for printing. Learn more about the studio here.>>


Art Center in North St. Louis
Spring 2016 graduate architecture studio, led by visiting professor Jan Ulmer

Students explored opportunities for radical adaptive reuse of the Mullanphy Emigrant Home in Old North St. Louis as a visual and performing arts space for the nonprofit organization UrbArts. Concepts sought to challenge what the 149-year-old building and space could become, and provide inspiration for an UrbArts campaign to acquire and redevelop the building. Learn more about the studio here.>>


Interaction Design: Understanding Health and Well-Being
Spring 2016 interdisciplinary design course, led by senior lecturer Enrique Von Rohr

Students used human-centered approaches to tackle health-related interaction design challenges from local collaborating organizations. Teams followed a process of research, synthesis, prototyping, and design, and delivered a final presentation to stakeholders. They were challenged to observe and understand behaviors of their target audiences, as well as relationships between people and objects, in order to create meaningful connections and processes. Learn more about the course here.>>

Public Lab River Rat Pack
Spring 2016 architecture seminar, led by assistant professor Derek Hoeferlin

Undergraduate and graduate students participated in group fieldwork to document and map the Mississippi River, utilizing tools developed by Public Lab, a nonprofit organization that gives communities access to inexpensive DIY scientific mapping techniques. Completed work was curated into an exhibition and added to a public database of open-source geo-spatial research. Learn more about the seminar here.>>


Seating Aggregation Landscape (SAL)
Spring 2016 undergraduate architecture design-build studio, led by assistant professor Chandler Ahrens

In this studio, students developed a seating and shade structure to enhance a proposed soccer field for Nahed Chapman New American Academy, which serves recent immigrants in kindergarten through tenth grade. Working with local professionals, the team took safety and social considerations into account to create its proposal, then used digital tools to design and fabricate an iconic piece. Learn more about the studio here.>>

St. Louis eco-BLOCK™
Spring 2016 undergraduate architecture studio, led by senior lecturer Don Koster

Prompted by a desire to rethink the reconstruction of American cities, this studio worked to develop the feasibility of a new model for urban redevelopment, the eco-BLOCK™, which approaches redevelopment of inner-city blocks for Net Positive Urban Living, focusing on integrating ecological, social, and economic systems to increase beauty, efficiency, and community. Informed by thorough research, the students designed housing and mixed-use proposals to test new models for development. Learn more about the studio here.>>

Design for Social Impact with Grace Hill Settlement House
Fall 2015 Special Topics in Communication Design course, led by assistant professor Penina Acayo

For this course, students worked in collaborative teams to tackle complex, socially conscious design challenges. Following a preliminary project, they immersed themselves in two service sites run by the Grace Hill Settlement House, identifying human-centered, cost-effective opportunities to deploy communication design to improve wayfinding and access. View images of students' final proposals and learn more about the course here.>>

Olive Link Sculpture Park
Spring 2015 master class, led by professor Ron Fondaw

The Olive Link Sculpture Park is connected to a broader effort to reinvent Olive Boulevard as a destination within University City. The City's Department of Community Development commissioned four MFA students to create discrete sculptural works of public art for a vacant lot. The pieces are installed near the intersection of Olive and Midland Boulevards. Learn more here.>>


Visual Journalism and Reportage Drawing
Spring 2015 communication design studio, led by professor Douglas Dowd

Students in Visual Journalism and Reportage Drawing partnered with local organizations to learn about their work and develop visual journalism stories. Each student developed a complete narrative and visual representation of the individuals and environments central to their organization. The final work was publicly exhibited in Olin Library and shared with partner organizations. View the final work here.>>


Art, Ecology, and Community in University City
Spring 2015 Master of Landscape Architecture studio, led by professor Rod Barnett and senior lecturer Jacqueline Margetts

Using Geographic Information System technology to produce site-based intervention maps, students worked with officials from University City Community Development to explore, critique, and re-engineer landscape to fit environmental and cultural conditions. Ultimately they proposed interventions on two sites in the area surrounding Olive Boulevard. View images and learn more about the studio here.>>

Interaction Design for Employee Health & Wellness
Spring 2015 seminar, led by Enrique Von Rohr, senior lecturer and director of research and technology

Students in this seminar explored how designers can create useful and desirable interactions between people and digital products and services. For their main project, students employed human-centered research methods to develop a series of digital design solutions for improving the health and connectivity of employees at BJC HealthCare’s Center for Clinical Excellence. View images from the final proposals here.>>

Schools That Can St. Louis: Design Thinking Workshops
Spring 2015 outreach workshops, led by the Sam Fox School's Heather Corcoran and Liz Kramer, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis' College of Education

The Schools That Can St. Louis Regional Council teamed up with the Sam Fox School and UMSL to develop a series of design thinking workshops for St. Louis educators, allowing participants to apply this rigorous, creative problem-solving methodology to the wicked problems facing school leaders. Learn more here.>>


Documentary Photography & Social Practice
Spring 2015 Art Practice course, led by professor Stan Strembicki

Photography students explored the objectivity of the photographic document, producing work for a partner (Better Family Life), as a contextual exploration (through work in Old North St. Louis), and through their own exploratory lens. Final projects focused on contemporary issues of each student’s choosing. View more information and images here.>>


Metamorphic Cities: Sustainable Strategies for Adaptive Reuse
Fall 2014 graduate architecture studio, led by assistant professor Catalina Freixas

Downtown STL, Inc. and the Sam Fox School partnered to explore adaptive reuse possibilities for the Railway Exchange Building, working in cooperation with the owners of the iconic structure. Students developed innovative design ideas to reimagine the 21-story high-rise building, reinvigorate the surrounding area, and contribute to the continuing transformation of downtown St. Louis. View their final proposals, a video overview of the course, and additional media coverage here.>>