Rocky Ford Police and Fire Station

Date: 5/1/14 - 5/1/15
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Location: Rocky Ford, CO

Rocky Ford is a city of approximately 4,000 residents located in Colorado's southeastern region. The city's existing police and fire station was well located in the city, however, built in the 1930s, the equipment and logistics of the police, fire and ambulance departments has surpassed its functional capacity and the building exhibited signs of advanced deterioration. Due to these factors, a new facility has been proposed on a nearby site.

The primary objective for the CCCD was to design a new facility that would be more useable and secure for the city's police, fire, and dispatch services, and to provide a distinctive building with appropriate character for inclusion into the context of revitalizing the downtown district of Rocky Ford. The project included an extensive interviewing process with employees of the three departments to ensure that the design facilitated an ideal working environment and met their spatial, security, and educational needs now and into the future.

Field Supervisor: Jeff Wood
CCCD Team Members: Amanda Tharp, Nathan Pepper


Grand Lake Community Center

Date: 11/1/14 - 5/20/16
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Location: Grand Lake, CO

With the decline in school age children, the Grand Lake Elementary School became an underused resource and it was decided to bus local children to Granby (16 miles away) instead of keeping the building open. This left a notable absence in the Grand Lake community. An elementary school is more than just a place to educate children. It is, in effect, a physical community message board.

At just over twenty thousand square feet and size, the elementary school had received very few physical updates since its opening in the 1980's. Through feedback gathered in community meetings and through surveying, the project team facilitated a shared vision of the town for the reconfiguration of the building to meet the needs of the community as both a social gathering place and a regional conference/event center. The intention of this project is not to “step on the feet” of current Grand Lake businesses but to tap into revenue areas the community lacks, providing an income generator for the town and a stronger sense of community amongst the users.

Goals of this project included providing an appealing event space to support current meeting and conference needs as well as to draw new events to town; a gymnasium for multiple indoor recreational and sporting activities; flexible meeting spaces to support art classes, workshops, and continuing education; a clinic for immunizations and health drives; business incubator space; office space for the sheriff; outdoor gathering space for community events; and emergency aircraft helipad. Additionally, the town wished for the building's exterior to be updated.

Field Supervisor: Jeff Wood
CCCD Team: Matthew Breen, Kaitlin Lucas, Ross Williams, Katie Benz, Serena McClintick, Lyris Sanchez, Kelsey Blaho, Aalok Bhattarai


The Big Small Home

Date: 1/21/19 - 5/17/19
Photo of big small homes model
Student Researcher:Robby Cuthbert Faculty Advisor: Julee Herdt

The Big Small Home: Eco Design Using Steel Shipping Containers

The Studio Competition Challenge: To design a small, 500 square foot or less, factory-produced home; one that plugs into an existing and larger, small home. The plug-in home, as the competition project, will be removable and transportable. It will also exemplify beautiful, affordable, low maintenance green design for healthier living. Shipping containers, modified and manipulated, are the project design and construction framework.

Robby Cuthbert's design fulfills this challenge expertly, showing design excellence and cohesiveness with the existing small home. 

Drawing of steel shipping container home

Computer rendering of shipping container home

Photo of big small home model


Ensuring the health of the creative district

Date: 1/1/18 - 5/6/18
Image showing street art in a creative district

Ensuring the Health of the Creative District: Planning and Policy
Recommendations to Establish Sustainable Housing and Workspaces for
Denver's Creative Class
Student Researcher:
Camron Bridgford

In late 2017, the City and County of Denver's Arts & Venues, Community Planning and Development, Denver Fire Department developed the Denver Safe Occupancy Program to help artists receive leniency on remedying non-life threatening building code violations. This program was spurred by the rapidly-increasing cost of living in Denver, which is displacing many communities, including members of the creative class, as well as instances of creative producers occupying spaces for uses not intended for their
zoning and/or not up-to-code, which led to closures and tragedies, including the Ghost Ship tragedy that killed 36 in Oakland, California. These growing instances point to a larger trend of creative communities struggling to find safe and affordable housing and workspaces in the face of rising property and rental values in cities, and the need for new policy recommendations and planning tools to achieve more equitable conditions for artists, which will be key to developing creative neighborhoods with long-term sustainability, creative production and a unique sense of place. 

While many municipalities utilized theories derived from Richard Florida's 2003 The Rise of the Creative Class to develop cultural policies and plans - which link cities' economic development and revitalization potential to the value of creative industries - there is now recognition that this theory does not encapsulate all the consequences of pursuing creative districts as centers of cultural symbols and consumption, including rising property values, decreasing vacancy rates and gentrification-led displacement.

As such, numerous problems arise with formulating policy and planning decisions around this neo-liberal creative class theory, including for artists themselves. This is because artists often move into underutilized areas of a city - where their presence can increase intrinsic value and generates investment - only to consequently raise the cost of living and change a place from one of cultural production to consumption. In short, artists - who are in part responsible for sparking gentrification because of their ability to create cultural capital that raises land and property values - quickly become victims of displacement themselves. Therefore, the proliferation of creative districts with the singular goal of economic development become problematic in and of itself. As sociologist Sharon Zukin - who extensively studied artist displacement in 1970s SoHo New York City - notes, the displacement of authentic culture and artisans in favor of an atmosphere that only values consumption is often doomed to failure, as a unique sense of place can become replaced by an atmosphere that reeks of illegitimacy and placeless-ness. Thus, it is in the best interest of cities and within their creative city policies to emphasize making creative districts sustainable, which includes supporting artists' ability to avoid displacement. 


Sustainable landfill redesign in Chitwan, Nepal

Date: 1/1/19 - 5/16/19
Image Showing Waste Management Issues in Nepal
Location: Chitwan, Nepal

Sustainable Landfill Redesign in Chitwan, Nepal
Student Researchers:
Alison Blaine and Molly Marcucilli

In Spring of 2019, MURP students Alison Blaine and Molly Marcucilli partnered for their Capstone Project with Clean City Cooperative, a non-profit organization based in Nepal working on sustainable waste management systems. Beginning with a small village south of Kathmandu called Chitwan, Clean City is hoping to establish a successful model that can be implemented elsewhere. Clean City's main focus is to work with the local municipality in redesigning the town's landfill site.

For the students' capstone, they researched and provided implementation strategies to address the negative environmental effects caused by a poorly sited and maintained landfill, which sits on a marsh in a national forest. Additionally, they provided suggestions and strategies for effective composting and recycling methods to lessen the amount of organic and plastic materials going into the landfill in the first place.


"We're not in the business of housing:" Environmental gentrification and the nonprofitization of green infrastructure projects

Date: 11/1/18
Principal Researchers: Jeremy Németh, Ph.D
Alessandro Rigolon
Location: Chicago, IL

In November 2018, Associate Professor Jeremy Németh and Alessandro Rigolon published the study, "We're not in the business of housing:" Environmental gentrification and the nonprofitization of green infrastructure projects in the journal Cities. The article looks at social justice issues in the planning process of the 606,  a rails-to-trails project located in Chicago.

Environmental gentrification, or the influx of wealthy residents to historically disenfranchised neighborhoods due to new green spaces, is an increasingly common phenomenon around the globe. In particular, investments in large green infrastructure projects (LGIPs) such as New York's High Line have contributed to displacing long-term low-income residents. Many consider environmental gentrification to be an important environmental justice issue, but most of this research has focused on distributional justice; that is, quantifying whether LGIPs have indeed contributed to gentrifying neighborhoods around them. Limited work has focused on procedural justice in the context of environmental gentrification, or how planning processes can shape project outcomes. This is a particularly critical oversight because many LGIP planning processes are led by nonprofits, a governance model that has already raised important equity concerns in the context of planning and maintenance of smaller neighborhood parks. Yet less is known about the impacts of park nonprofits leading LGIPs.

To address these gaps, we study the planning process of the 606, a rails-to-trails project located in Chicago, U.S. that contributed to environmental gentrification. Through interviews with key actors and a review of planning documents, we find that although delegation of leadership to park nonprofits has some benefits, a number of drawbacks also arise that might make gentrification a more likely outcome, namely the fragmentation of efforts to develop economically viable LGIPs while also preserving affordable housing. These findings suggest the need for cross-sectoral municipal planning efforts and for building more robust coalitions comprised of parks and housing nonprofits.

Highlights and findings from the research include: 

• Environmental gentrification is an environmental justice issue.
• Large green infrastructure projects rely on park nonprofits for project management.
• The reliance on park nonprofits brings benefits but can accelerate environmental gentrification.
• Sectoral park nonprofits do not have the means to address affordable housing issues.
• Coalitions of parks and housing nonprofits could limit environmental gentrification.

 

More Information: Click here to read the full article.

Defining a Public: The Management of Privately Owned Public Space

Date: 10/1/09
Principal Researchers: Jeremy Németh, Ph.D Location: New York City, NY

In October 2009, Associate Professor Jeremy Németh published an article in the journal Urban Studies "Defining a Public: The Management of Privately Owned Public Space". This paper empirically explores the management of privately owned public space by examining 163 spaces produced through New York City's incentive zoning program, whereby developers provide and manage a public space in exchange for floor area ratio (FAR) bonuses. Developers of these bonus spaces employ a variety of management approaches, each correlating with common theories of spatial control in publicly owned spaces. However, as developer priorities are often fiscally driven, most approaches severely limit political, social and democratic functions of public space and produce a constricted definition of the public. As such, privately owned public spaces have deleterious effects on concepts of citizenship and representation, even as they become the new models for urban space provision and management.

More Information: Read the full journal article here.

Supporting Parent Engagement in Children's Learning through Neighborhood Development and Improvements to Accessibility

Date: 10/18/18
Image Credit:  Stock Photo of Housing. Martin Sanchez, Unsplash
Principal Researchers: Dr. Carrie Makarewicz Location: Oakland, CA

Professor Makarewicz’s recently published study, Supporting Parent Engagement in Children’s Learning through Neighborhood Development and Improvements to Accessibility, shines a light on how external community conditions such as household resources, community amenities, housing stability, and accessibility can have a profound effect on parents’ abilities to engage in their children’s learning.

While planners typically do not address school issues, this study shows that officials looking to improve educational outcomes would do well to consider urban planning part of their toolkit. As Makarewicz’s research demonstrates, student achievement rises when families live in neighborhoods with jobs, grocery stores, parks, accessible transit and housing stability. Her findings suggest planning can contribute to student achievement through strategic investments in community amenities and services that bolster parents’ time, energy, and resources for educational engagement in their homes, schools, and communities.

The study indicates that external influences explain two-thirds of the income-based student "achievement gap" with parent engagement being especially important. Yet, public school improvements focus on within-school reforms, downplaying community conditions that challenge engagement. This study of seventy diverse parents in Oakland, California, utilized interviews, time-use diaries, neighborhood data, and participant observation to understand how a combination of personal characteristics, household resources, community amenities, housing stability, and accessibility affected parents' abilities to engage in their children's learning. Findings suggest planning can contribute to student achievement through investments and coordination that bolster parents' time, energy, and resources for educational engagement in their homes, schools, and communities.

More Information: Click here for full article.

Sustainability through Citizen-Municipal Partnerships

Date: 1/1/17 - 12/6/17
Logo for Urban Affairs Association Conference
Principal Researchers: Dr. Carrie Makarewicz Location: Lakewood and Denver, Colorado

Dr. Carrie Makarewicz, an assistant professor in the urban and regional planning program, has been working on research to determine how sustainability may be affected by municipality-supported but citizen-driven projects and neighborhood engagement. While a project that is ongoing, Dr. Makarewicz's initial research findings are available and were presented earlier in 2017 at the Urban Affairs Association conference in Minneapolis.

The Urban Affairs Association conference is an interdisciplinary gathering of social scientists-including urban scholars, researchers and public service professionals-who study urban issues. The topics the conference touches upon includes housing, the environment, politics, transportation and more. The Urban Affairs Association also sponsors the Journal of Urban Affairs, an annual journal dedicated to urban research and policy analysis.

Dr. Makarewicz's research focuses on the Sustainable Neighborhoods Program (SNN), which originally began in Lakewood, Colorado and has also been adopted by the City and County of Denver. The program engages citizens through their neighborhoods and in their respective municipalities to work toward sustainability goals that are devised by themselves and their neighbors. The model is intended to increase community engagement, as well as action toward increased sustainability by instilling neighborhoods with a framework and general resources to accomplish desired tasks.

As neighborhoods complete sustainability-related projects, they are awarded points and can eventually be certified as a "sustainable neighborhood." As each municipality also has their own sustainability goals written into mayoral agendas and other city-led initiatives, SNN provides an opportunity to contribute to broader city efforts related to sustainability. At the Urban Affairs Association conference, audience members at Dr. Makarewicz's presentation were interested to hear more about this unique partnership between citizens (and their neighborhoods) and municipalities, and whether or not it has actually helped to promote more sustainable behaviors and actions. Dr. Makarewicz's initial findings have been multi-faceted, and include the following insights:

- SNN provides an avenue to engage residents with sustainability on their own terms but with city guidance
- The program is able to operate with fairly minimal overhead, so it has longevity for the foreseeable future
- In addition to the benefits for traditional measures of sustainability (e.g. reductions in energy and water use, lowering carbon footprint, reducing waste, etc.), it also has many social and civic benefits
- The program fosters cross-agency dialogue as well as connections between residents and different city departments, businesses and nonprofits

However, the program faces several obstacles, including:
- Its staffing structure could be more effective;
- More supports are needed to build the capacity of neighborhoods with fewer resources; and
- Greater outreach is desired so that residents who are not yet participating can learn more about it

Dr. Makarewicz's research is expected to conclude by the end of 2017,
where the full findings will be submitted for publication in a urban-related
academic journal.


Design by Community Charrette

Date: 9/1/16 - 10/7/16
Students in the Fall 2016 Urban Housing class work on a housing design charrette.
Faculty Advisor: Jennifer Steffel Johnson, Ph.D Location: Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado

In late September 2016, MURP students in Assistant Professor CTT and Associate Chair Jennifer Steffel Johnson's Urban Housing class participated in a community design charrette, which is an intensive, hands-on workshop that brings together numerous disciplines to explore architectural, planning and development options for particular areas or sites.

Urban Housing is an interdisciplinary class that includes urban and regional planning, architecture and landscape architecture students. "Design by Community Charrette" was conducted in partnership with professional architects, who serve as team leaders that organize the students and their progress on the project, as well with Housing Colorado, a statewide non-profit organization "working to educate, inform and advocate for
affordable housing."

To solicit projects, Housing Colorado released a request for proposal for potential organizations to apply to be the focus of the charrette, with applications often coming from housing authorities, municipalities and non-profit housing organizations. With their proposal, applicants must have a real project and site in mind for which they want to implement an actionable plan.

For the Fall 2016 charrette, two applicants were chosen-Mile High Ministries' York Street Project in Denver, and Fort Collins Housing Authority and City of Fort Collins' Colorado Housing Project in Fort Collins. Fort Collins' project consisted of a 60-acre site of undeveloped, city-owned land. The site was zoned for up to 204 units and sought to develop a mixed used and mixed income design to provide diverse housing choices for
households of all types. Mile High Ministries requested assistance with the development of a mixed-used affordable housing community on blighted property in the northeast Denver neighborhood of Cole, which is located off of York Street.

During the class, students conducted precedent and existing conditions studies for several weeks on the actual sites to understand both the clients' needs as well as their particular projects. After the preliminary work was completed, the design charrette took place over three days on the designated sites, which included assistance from volunteer architects, landscape architects, planners, construction and finance professionals, market analysts and representatives from the client organizations. Together with the students, the teams assembled the designs for the projects. At the end of the three days, the project typically progresses enough so that the client can move forward in searching for funding to implement the final product. For instance, in past years, several charrette projects have been built or are currently under construction. It is estimated that the services provided by the students and volunteer professionals is worth upward of $60,000 per organization.

To conclude the design charrette, students presented their completed work at the Housing Colorado NOW! Annual Conference, which took place in Beavercreek, Colorado from October 5 to 7.


Parking Day 2017

Date: 9/15/17 - 9/15/17
Urban and Regional Planning students participate in Parking Day 2017.

On September 15, 2017, students in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at CU Denver-headed by the officers of the American Planning Association student chapter (APAS)-participated in the annual Park(ing) Day outside of the College of Architecture and Planning at 14th and Larimer in downtown Denver.

Park(ing) Day, which began in San Francisco in 2005, began as a way to temporarily turn a metered parking space in the city into a temporary public space as a way to showcase what amenities we often give up to accommodate parking in dense urban areas. From its original founding, Park(ing) Day is now an annual, open-source global event where citizens, professionals and activists create their versions of temporary public space in urban places around the world. As such, the event's mission is to, "call
attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat."

The theme of this year's Park(ing) Day contribution by MURP students was "urban jungle," which was constructed with the help of CU Denver students from the American Institute of Architects student chapter, as well as private engineering, planning and consulting firm Michael Baker International. Throughout the day, several dozen people stopped by the transformed parking spot to ask questions about the event, and drivers passing by at the nearby stoplight engaged with students.

Of this year's event, APAS President Kari Remmen said, "Park(ing) Day was a success because of the conversation it sparks. As planners, we need to understand the public opinion around the issues we are trying to address. Park(ing) Day gave us the opportunity to hear from people, as well as talk about the impacts of parking in our downtown urban spaces."

In addition to engaging the public, this year's contribution by MURP students focused on bringing together students in the first and second year of the urban planning program. Remmen noted that because the master's program is only a short two years, APAS has an important role to play in ensuring relationships are developed among students, as they are all future planners who will work together in the field.

Park(ing) Day takes place each year on the third Friday of September. Click here (http://parkingday.org/) for more information on the global event.


Green Tech: Eco Furniture Design & Fabrication

Date: 1/21/19 - 5/17/19
Butterfly connector between wood and concrete
Student Researcher:Alexis Trick, Grant Warmerdam, Dillon Chang, Nora Webster, Sabrina Canada Faculty Advisor: Julee Herdt

The task: Using salvaged, found, or recycled materials, create beautiful eco-furniture, architectural elements, clothing and other unique functional art of your own design that enhances user experience without spending much (or any) money. 


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"In Contrast by Nature" - Nora Webster
In studying the Art Noveau movement for this design, nature was mimicked and combined with industrial methods of fabrication and assembly. With four pieces of wood that were twisted by nature, a steel, coiled armature was created for joining the legs with a found slab of stone.

stripe
"The Proper" - Alexis Trick
The driving factor behind "The Proper" was working and experimenting with unfamiliar materials. The walnut slab was severely cupped upon acquisition and will only continue to warp over time. Creating a base that supports and elevates the top without constraining will allow the wood to continue its distortion. 

elevation in perspective
"Coordinated Separates" - Grant Warmerdam
This project takes the approach of one bench made up of many small stools/tables. They can be taken apart and used separately, or put together to make one large piece. It is up to the user to decide how they want to arrange the pieces, encouraging playfulness.

overall_angle
"What are Thoooose?" - Dillon Chang
This piece is a coffee table made up of components of a deconstructed brake machine, donated truck bed flooring, and a pane of tempered glass from the dumpster of a glass company. The challenge of this project was marrying these three unique materials into a single harmonious piece.

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"On the Rocks" - Sabrina Canada
A piece of scrap marble, truckbed floor, and salvaged steel wheels merge seamlessly to form this unique bar cart. 


Cottonwood Cabins

Date: 1/21/19 - 7/1/19
Exterior of a cabin in the woods
Principal Researchers: ColoradoBuildingWorkshop
Design Build 2019
Faculty Advisor: Rick Sommerfeld Location: Thoreau, New Mexico

High on the Colorado Plateau just outside of Thoreau, New Mexico in a desert landscape characterized by Juniper and Ponderosa Pine forests, six new bunkhouses and an outdoor kitchen create a welcome refuge for trekkers at the basecamp for Cottonwood Gulch Expeditions.

The objective: to foster a sense of community while reinterpreting the place based local vernacular which is rooted in the landscape. The earliest set of cabins, designed by Kurt Vonnegut Sr., architect-father of the renowned writer, are open air structures with retractable canvas flaps used to cover the window openings. Drawing on the camp’s rich “porch culture,” the new cabins are conceived as pairs of 200 sq ft bunk houses that share a singular roof over a common outdoor gathering space. Each cabin seeks strong connections to nature using apertures to maximize the experience of the outdoor environment. The doors, conceived of as movable walls are mounted on sliding tracks, that when opened connect each bunkhouse to a shared porch. Large glazing areas allow the interior to be flooded by the morning light and provide occupiable moments to contemplate the world outside.

Interior bunks of Cottonwood Cabins

Exterior of cabin in daylight

Exterior of a cabin in the afternoon

Cabin hallway interior

Cabin exterior at night with lights on inside


Living Systems Vertical Studio

Date: 1/21/19 - 5/17/19
rendering of green wall
Student Researcher:Leah Bryant, Chris Quinn and James Oberhansley Faculty Advisor: Leila Tolderlund

Living Systems Vertical Studio operates in transition zones – exploring opportunities for living modular membrane systems on, in and thorough vertical building skin surfaces. How we design, thicken, program, grow and cultivate this membrane matrix of urban landscape becoming building, inside becoming outside, and nature becoming city, is essential to increase human health and well-being by growing the ratio, presences and potential for interaction with plants in living city landscapes.

Project: Dynamic Urban Fabric - Interchangeable modules on a draping hexagonal armature adapt to any situation. This fabric system features a structural, flexible armature with interchangeable modules, by drawing from natural patterns and processes.



Plants in a studio project

Close up of vertical studio design

Model_LB_JO_CM




Crafting Form-Based Codes: Resilient Design, Policy & Regulations

Date: 10/1/18
Cover of Crafting Form based codes
Principal Researchers: Korkut Onaran, Ph.D

The CU Denver Urban and Regional Planning Department is thrilled to congratulate Korkut Onaran, Ph.D on the publication of his recent book: Crafting Form-Based Codes: Resilient Design, Policy & Regulations.

This book is for the well-meaning idealists - city planners, urban designers, municipalities, and developers - who are frustrated working within the messy political environments of local democracies. It provides practical tools for crafting form-based rules that can facilitate effective communication and consensus building that are essential in today's many regulatory cultures. It reviews some of the recent form-based codes and focuses on a lot-types approach to coding. It applies this approach to designing for the climate; it demonstrates that this approach can be used in deciphering the climatic responses of vernacular archetypes that have been evolved through generations, and then coding them via simple coding tools.

This book's purpose is twofold: (a) to provide a theoretical framework that clarifies why working within dynamic legal systems in local democracies is a necessity today for practitioners of urban planning and design, and how crafting dynamic rules may facilitate effective communication which is crucial within these cultures; and (b) to provide simple tools for crafting dynamic rules in form-based codes that can not only facilitate form-based consensus, but also address issues of sustainability and response to the climatic properties.

Dr. Onaran's book has received the following praise:

"Outdated regulatory regimes waste time, create uncertainty, and too often compromise design quality. With a keen anthropological lens, Onaran explains the evolution and limitations of conventional code practice and offers practical remedies built on the best attributes of form-based codes. This book argues the strongest case to date for form-based approaches and is a must-read for those who care about the design of authentic and resilient places and the processes involved in crafting them." - Peter Park, Director, Peter J. Park, LLC, City Planning and Design, USA

"Onaran's book offers a clear view of both the methods and potential of well-framed and well-applied form-based codes. He focuses less on deep theory and more on principles and practical applications as he invites designers, planners and regulators to become well acquainted with what will surely become the zoning tool of choice in the 21st century." - Stefanos Polyzoides, Partner, Moule & Polyzoides Architects and Urbanists, USA

Crafting Form-Based Codes: Resilient Design, Policy & Regulations can be purchased online at Amazon or Routledge.

Korkut Onaran, Ph.D., is principal at Pel-Ona Architects and Urbanists in Boulder, Colorado. He is also Assistant Professor Adjunct at the College of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado Denver. Dr. Onaran has taught several courses at CAP including Design Policy/Regulation, Sustainable Tourism Planning, Planning Project Studio, City Design Policy, and Directed Studies in Turkey: Multi-Level Planning and Urban Design Studio (A six-credit study abroad program).

More Information: Find the book on Amazon

Planning Project Studio: Creating a Quality-of-Life Plan for RiNo's Arts District

Date: 8/15/16
Faculty Advisor: Carrie Makarewicz

 Assistant Professor Carrie Makarewicz's Planning Project Studio-a class that focuses on teaching second-year Master of Urban and Regional Planning students how to design plans for real-world clients- worked in Denver's River North (RiNo) Art District, a quickly developing neighborhood northeast of downtown that has long been home to the residences and studios of working artists.

Though an area originally utilized for industrial purposes, the creation of the arts district in 2005, coupled with its designation as a Colorado Creative District by the State of Colorado, has quickly made RiNo an area of fast-paced commercial, business and residential urban growth.

In the studio, students' objective was to create a quality-of-life plan for RiNo and its surrounding neighborhoods, including developing design and zoning strategies, financing tools, developer incentives, accessibility improvements, employment diversification and the identification of essential missing uses.

To meet these ends, students worked with two clients, including Create Denver-a division of the City and County of Denver's Arts and Venues, which focuses on supporting Denver's creative economy- as well as the non-profit organization RiNo Art District, which serves to keep RiNo a sustainable arts district for artists and creative businesses.

Create Denver was seeking a plan from the students that promotes the City of Denver's Imagine2020 cultural strategic plan, including using the arts as method for social change. Similarly, RiNo Art District sought assistance in adapting to the new, higher density residential development through a plan that provides a high quality of life for the residents and workers in the area while sustaining the area as a vibrant arts district.

"This studio is of particular interest and importance to our students because it touches on so many issues," Makarewicz says. "It gives them the ability to think about how to be creative with planning designs and tools, given RiNo's desire to try cutting-edge and innovative ideas."

The studio was conducted in conjunction with an environmental and market research project the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) is managing for RiNo Art District, which is exploring the business, commercial, residential and artistic landscapes of the area. CAP professors are frequently engaged in community-based research, and the introduction of this studio was an additional opportunity for the college to align with the University of Colorado Denver's goals of providing an energetic, collaborative and creative learning environment where community application is encouraged.

Through the planning studio process, students receive hands-on learning experience in infrastructure plans, financing sources and challenges, integrating the area's long-time industrial uses with new residents and commercial activity, understanding access to and uses within RiNo's future park, river clean-up, and ensuring the arts are an accessible commodity to all of Denver's residents.

Makarewicz also notes RiNo's proximity to Globeville and Elyria Swansea, historic Denver neighborhoods that are struggling with chronic issues such as health and lack of proximity to resources such as grocery stores and parks.

"Students want to explore how to make RiNo more accessible to these neighborhoods," Makarewicz says. "This is also in line with their clients' desire to both increase accessibility for all people, which will lend itself to the district's enrichment, as well as ensure it remains a sustainable area to live and work for artists."


Making Winter Park sustainable

Date: 1/14/19
People playing in the snow with tall hotels in the background

Making Winter Park Sustainable
Student Researcher:
Andrew Williams

CU Denver second-year MURP student Andrew Williams is partnering with the town of Winter Park to complete a sustainability assessment. The assessment, part of Williams' Capstone Project, will identify what measures the town is already taking and where the town could implement sustainable policies and practices. The assessment will identify major sustainability issues affecting the community, outline what the community is currently doing, identify gaps, and include goals, strategies, and ideas for how the town can improve further.

Williams, originally from Central Florida, has quickly made a name for himself in the MURP program and around Colorado, working with several Colorado communities such as Dillon and Boulder to create development plans. Williams recognizes that sustainability is an important part of successful community planning and hopes that his work with the town of Winter Park will help the community and its residents.

To learn more about Williams' work with Winter Park, read the full article, Making Winter Park more sustainable: Town partners with CU Denver student for sustainability plan, on Sky-Hi News.


Green Infrastructure for Denver's 5280 Loop

Date: 8/20/18
green trees and stream with city in the background
Faculty Advisor: Austin Troy

CU Denver's College of Architecture and Planning recently partnered with the Downtown Denver Partnership to develop a series of green infrastructure plans for the proposed 5280 Loop. Masters of Urban and Regional Planning students in Professor Austin Troy's Environmental Planning and Management course worked to create a greening plan for the 5280 Loop that would increase green infrastructure, create more people-friendly spaces, implement ecological improvement techniques, and contribute to the greater goals of the 5280 Loop.

Conceived by the Downtown Denver Partnership, the 5280 Loop is a conceptual 5.28 mile-long urban trail that would circle Denver's downtown, connecting diverse neighborhoods and increasing connectivity. The Downtown Denver Partnership envisions the Loop as a unique amenity that will prioritize people, place, culture, and experience; promote public health and betterment; celebrate the culture of distinct urban districts, connect landmarks, destinations, and special places; bring nature into the city, promote active transportation, create a safe, fluid, intuitive route; and strengthen community or catalyze development.

For the students in Austin Troy's Environmental Planning and Management class, the first phase of the project was to identify the highest priority blocks for greening and environmental interventions along the segment of the 5280 Loop. Students were divided into four groups, and assigned a section of the 5280 Loop to study. Each group conducted a block-by-block assessment of their section and developed a set of criteria to identify high-priority blocks. Students then made specialized recommendations for green interventions in their study areas. Recommendations included adding vegetated medians, vertical planters, raised planter beds, street trees, permeable pavements, rain gardens, storm-water planters, In addition to making recommendations for green infrastructure improvements, students also created preliminary cost estimates for installation and maintenance and analyzed the potential benefits of green infrastructure.

The student's work found that green infrastructure has a slew of benefits that not only improve the environment but also foster more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing urban spaces. Green infrastructure benefits include treating storm-water and preventing runoff, thereby reducing pressure on man-made storm-water systems and decreasing flooding; improving air quality by providing additional greenery and tree canopy coverage that filters urban pollution caused by automobile usage; and reducing the urban heat island effect by reducing the amount of impervious surfaces, increasing albedo, and reducing temperatures. Students also identified non-environmental benefits of green infrastructure such as improvements to mental health, the creation of a safer and more pleasant pedestrian environment due to slowing traffic, and noise abatement. Taken together, this study shows that the benefits of green infrastructure - both in environmental management and improved health outcomes, outweigh the costs of installation and maintenance.

While complete implementation of the 5280 Loop is still many years away, this study, led by CU Denver's MURP students, demonstrates that the inclusion of green infrastructure in the project can help the 5280 Loop achieve its desired outcomes of creating spaces that are both environmentally friendly and well as beautiful and enjoyable places for people.


Summer Planning Studio: Downtown Revitalization in Dillon, CO

Date: 6/1/18 - 8/1/18
Group photograph of the studio class in Dillion
Principal Researchers: Korkut Onaran, Ph.D Location: Dillion Colorado

During summer 2018, for the for the first time in the MURP department’s history, the  Planning Project Studio integrated an off-campus location for a part of the studio. Taught by Korkut Onaran, Ph.D., one of the department’s adjunct faculty, the class was a two-month long intensive summer studio. As part of the studio, the class spent two weeks in Dillon, a small mountain community in Summit County approximately 70 miles west of Denver along the shores of the beautiful Dillon Reservoir. Attended by eighteen MURP students, the studio focused on reimagining Dillon and is part of the town’s larger on-going effort to revitalize its downtown core.

After writing some initial “first impressions” essays, the class started to focus on background research about Dillon and Summit County including recent planning efforts, demographics, land uses, and history. The identification of planning and design challenges defined the scope of the work. Some of the key challenges identified by the students are Dillon’s seasonality and dependence on summer tourism, its shortage of workforce housing, the fact that it is relatively unknown even to Colorado residents, and the town’s lack of a distinct public realm. As part of the studio, students provided a vision for the future of Dillon and laid out key goals for the city to pursue, including diversifying the local economy, creating a more self-sufficient economy, increasing workforce housing, and working towards more equitable income distribution. The class also identified target areas and industries for the town to focus on such as tech and small businesses, arts/culture/music, the outdoor industry, and culinary enterprises.

On June 29, the class provided a preliminary presentation to Dillon’s city officials, followed by a final presentation on July 13. You can view this final presentation here. A final report produced at the end of the class incorporated the valuable input received during these presentations.

The overall experience was positive for students. Second year MURP student Andrew Williams says, “The Dillon Summer Studio was a great experience to put planning tools and concepts into practice. The studio not only offered incredible views, it also offered a great opportunity to work towards creating meaningful change in an area desperate for housing, development, and a full-time population.”

Another second year MURP student, Stefi Szrek, said, “I used to visit Dillon with my family when I was younger and I thought I knew the area well – but working with my classmates and the town council provided much more insight on the community and area that I didn’t know about. I really enjoyed having the ‘real world’ experience and networking in the Colorado Front Range. This studio helped me to gain experience in planning for rural and tourist communities, which I believe is an important aspect of planning.”

Professor Onaran and the studio class would like to acknowledge the assistance and cooperation of Mayor Carolyn Skowyra, Tom Acre, the Town Manager, Dan Burroughs, Town Engineer and Community Development Director, and Ned West, Town Planner and Engineering Inspector, who each met with the class during the informational welcome session and attended the presentations and provided their valuable input. Professor Onaran and the class would also like to thank Carolyn, Tom, Dan, and Ned, as well as Carri McDonnell, Finance Director, Jen Marchers, Council Member, Bonnie Moinet, Dillon Economic Development Advisory Committee and Finance Director for the Town of Frisco, who also joined in their meetings and shared their views. Last but not the least, Kerstin Anderson, Marketing and Events Director, Town of Dillon, was instrumental in inviting the class to work on this subject and proved to be tremendously resourceful throughout the class.

For more information about ongoing revitalization efforts in Dillon, check out the article “Dillon begins community outreach for core revitalization” on Summit Daily.


Modeling Future Yard Irrigation in the Front Range

Date: 1/1/19 - 8/31/20
Aerial view of suburban houses with vibrant green lawns
Principal Researchers: Austin Troy Student Researcher:Gretel Follingstad

This research, funded by the Babbitt Center and the Water Research Foundation, is working to develop a methodology to predict future water use in the greater Denver metro area in response to urban growth. It focuses particularly on residential yard irrigation, how it will increase with population, and how it will change in response to factors like climate change, water efficient irrigation technology, and land use policies or design guidelines. The current phase represents a pilot study, focused on two municipalities, Denver and Aurora, with the intent to expand to the entire Denver metro region in subsequent phases. This project utilizes the outputs of Denver Regional Council of Governments’ (DRCOG) UrbanSim growth model to base its predictions of future household growth, both through new development and increasing density of existing development. Water use by household is estimated from our statistical analysis of customer data from our partnering organization, Denver Water (customer data from other jurisdictions is expected soon). Using these data records in conjunction with high-resolution remote sensing data, we are able to determine how outdoor water use varies with landscaping factors (lawn and tree area, tree age, shading, etc). We use these results to create a "housing typology" where each house "type" represents a different outdoor water use profile. These "types" can then be assigned to areas of future growth based characteristics of the simulated future households (e.g. age structure, lot size, housing value, income, etc), as derived from the UrbanSim model. When this "baseline" estimate of water use is completed, we will run alternative scenarios, in which changes to aggregate water use are evaluated in response to factors like climate change, water-wise landscaping regulations and higher density zoning among other factors.