This past summer, Monica Mulica (MArch23) spent much of her time thinking about how to reimagine Esther’s Alley, located in Laclede’s Landing, St. Louis City’s oldest neighborhood.
Mulica, selected as a CityStudioSTL fellow, spent 12 weeks working on the project with PGAV Planners, a planning, design and development consulting firm. The Laclede’s Landing Design Committee presented the opportunity to transform the historic alley, which boasts a great view of the Gateway Arch, into a vibrant, culturally significant neighborhood corridor that expresses its history, enriches the pedestrian experience, and uplifts the urban fabric.
Mulica worked closely with the committee and surveyed the public to inform her place-making strategies. At the end of her fellowship, she presented her ideas in a community meeting with the Laclede’s Landing neighborhood.
“The proposal explored the importance of re-envisioning underutilized infrastructure into public spaces,” she explained. “Phasing the project into three categories—storytelling devices, creative ground treatment, and alley activation—helped create a tangible framework that could be achieved in parts, keeping cost and community input in mind. My fellowship also allowed me to understand the importance of combining architecture and urban design to consider the future of Laclede’s Landing.”
Mulica was one of five CityStudioSTL fellows who spent the summer working with St. Louis-based firms on community-engaged and civic projects in the St. Louis region, delving into important issues through a community-design lens. Firm partners, in addition to PGAV Planners, included Christner Architects, Cordogan Clark Ittner, Trivers, and Arbolope Studio.
An initiative of the Office for Socially Engaged Practice, CityStudioSTL supports a series of community engagement and outreach projects that bring together students in architecture, art, and design with partners in the St. Louis region. It is generously supported by Gina and Bill Wischmeyer (BA69/MArch71).
Since its establishment in 2017, the CityStudioSTL fellowships have supported over 20 students’ direct engagement with community partners.
“The goal of the program is to develop a mutually beneficial opportunity for students and firms that make an impact in the St. Louis area,” said Matt Bernstine, associate director of the Office for Socially Engaged Practice. “Students gain valuable knowledge learning how to apply their design skills towards socially-engaged projects within a professional setting with industry leaders. With the fellows’ full-time commitment and talents, participating firms are able to expand their resources and commitment towards socially-engaged initiatives and projects.”
Applications for the summer 2023 fellowships are open through March 20.
Bob Peniel Inapanuri (MArch23) spent his 12-week fellowship at Christner Architects conducting research on the social and health implications of selecting and utilizing various building materials and finishes. He developed tools, a checklist and a report to inform safe and healthy material selections and became influenced to pull these humanitarian aspects into his career.
Working at Cordogan Clark Ittner, Amani Shammaa (MArch23), focused on the considerations for improving security in schools while promoting an open and welcoming atmosphere for students and staff. She interviewed a number of stakeholders, including the former CEO of Ittner Architects, school district superintendents, and other designers and educators, to understand the desires, challenges, and opportunities in trauma-informed design and crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED).
Nema Swareh (BA23) joined the Trivers team, working primarily on two projects: Harrison School, a rural project with deep historical ties to the African American community; and Northside Community Hub, a space for four active non-profits, ActionSTL, ArchCityDefenders, Freedom Community Center, and InvestSTL. Swareh delved into the complexities of historic preservation and renovation while navigating the ever-present risks of community gentrification.
Chenyue Wang (MLA23) helped Arbolope Studio to advance its development of two urban St. Louis City parks: Peace Park, in the St. Louis College Hill neighborhood; and Love Bank Park on Cherokee Street. She was able to engage with architects and community members alike to understand what it means to be a landscape architect within urban community contexts.