Research to Guiding Design Ideas – [Mid-Semester Pitch]


Slide 1  This semester’s project began with an initial meeting in the Dotte Agency. Local Wyandotte County community leaders such as Marty Thoennes, Steve Curtis, Edgar Galicia, and Monica Mendes met with us and began to share their stories. They explained the aspects which bring the community together, as well as the areas that are subject to improvement.

Slide 2   The meeting gave us insight to the area and certain aspects struck a chord with us. As a result of their stories I felt compelled to look further into the make-up of the community. Something that would act as a catalyst to bring the diverse community together and also form an opportunity to meet neighbors. I found that hints of diversity were abounding in the area, as shown by these pictures.

Slide 3   My research began through map studies. I divided the area north of Central Ave. into their respective neighborhoods. I began to notice natural dividing lines among these areas, but wanted to know more about the types of people who compose these places. The census therefore provided further demographic information between two zip codes. I found it very interesting that there was a distinct line dividing the area which happened to be the boundary between the two zip codes. It seemed as though 10th street was this unseen line.

Slide 4   Vacant lots indicated a lot about the area. As seen by the shaded gray areas, there is a dense amount located in the Riverview neighborhood. Therefore, can the placement of my proposed idea be implemented in a way that can benefit and encourage growth in this area?

Slide 5   This led to my focus on the area between the Bethany and Riverview neighborhoods. I want to explore ways to eliminate the dividing line and weave the community together to inspire growth.

Slide 6   Through events such as La Placita I gained insight to what brings the community together and how this can be applied to the design. It was an amazing experience to be able to listen to community member’s stories and share our research information with them, such as the diversity study I did. I was able to see the aspects which make this community thrive.

Slide 7   Those aspects in particular that I noticed that brought everyone together despite their differences were food and children. Food at La Placita allowed people intermingle through various cultural dishes. I had the most amazing quesadilla when I was there. Children would frequently run up to our tables and start pointing at the maps as well which caused their parents to follow behind them. Therefore, children are also proponents in bringing people together.

Slide 8   Research outside of the community helped to generate some ideas on placement of a program and proponents that unite the community. Active Design Guidelines such as locating food and residence near existing public spaces, enhancing street activity, and accommodating cultural preferences and different age groups are great aspects to keep in mind when trying to find/design the best place for our ideas.

Slide 9   With the focus on children and food, along with active design guidelines, we can begin to imagine the usage of existing resources to develop a program. I decided to utilize both ME Pearson and Splitlog Farm together with Bethany Park. All three are located along 11th street and begin to tie the community together.

Slide 10   This all being said my guiding idea is a threefold. I hope to encourage community interaction, healthy lifestyles, and small business growth by utilizing local resources and in turn create a place that serves as a cultural hub. This will be done through an adaptive reuse and infill project along the Central Ave. corridor.

Slide 11   Many ideas will guide my project design. First, creating an afterschool program which works with Splitlog Farm and could use a demo kitchen space (thus engaging children as a proponent for community engagement). The children could learn how to grow and cultivate healthy food at the farm, and then travel to the demo kitchen to learn how to cook and prepare a variety of dishes with their classmates. This space could be located near or in Bethany Park as a way to encourage physical activity every day. This idea of a kitchen space could also serve adults (bringing people together through food). Not only could it be a shared kitchen space for them, but it could also serve as a business incubator. Residents could rent out kitchen space at low rates and prepare different food items which they hope to bring to the market and expand their business with.  Lastly, I hope to develop a place within Bethany Park as a designated outdoor eating area where children and adults alike can come together and share a table over food.

Slide 12   One example I found of an after school program similar to what I am proposing is called Food Landscapes in Richmond, VA. These students harvested a variety of healthy foods and cooked them together with disabled community members. From weekly sessions together these children and individuals with disabilities created a relationship between food and art.

Slide 13   As a result of this after school program the children developed very personal connections with the community. Those leading the program noticed the children’s community engagement increased as a direct result. They learned to build relationships and understanding of others over food and gained great insight of their neighbors.

Slide 14   Next I looked into the idea of a shared community kitchen space that serves as a business incubator. The Colorado Kitchen Share is a great example of this. Its share spaces are affordable. It also provides its users free consulting in how they can take their business to the next level and offers free food storage.

Slide 15   This interested me to find out where the closest kitchen share program may already be in relation to Wyandotte County. To my surprise the closest is located in Atchison, KS. I believe that such a space would render much success for the residents along Central Ave. and serve as a way to bring neighbors together.

Slide 16   That all being said, the most practical and functional spaces to serve the programmatic ideas that I have would be adaptive reuse of the Bethany Park Community Center, to include the children’s demo kitchen, and infill of the parking lot along N. 12th Street with the adult kitchen share space incubator and affordable housing. Locating these places in and around Bethany Park also helps generate growth in the area nearby owned by CHWC.

Slide 17   The ultimate goal is to utilize Bethany Park in a way that it becomes the heart, or cultural center, of Central Ave. and the surrounding neighborhoods. By implementing programs which address the guiding ideas, such as forming a catalyst to bring the diverse community together and also form an opportunity to meet neighbors, I believe that this space can become a hub. Its engagement opportunities and influence can nearly mimic the extremely positive effect that Waterway Park has had on its surrounding community. I hope that these design aspects radiate out from Bethany Park and cultivate growth among the Central Ave. area.


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