Community Engagement - Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture

Community Engagement

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

The Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture places a unique emphasis on community engagement through its practice-oriented, teaching-first framework. These efforts define our success in five key areas, which are threaded throughout our students’ work and community connections: Arts & Culture, Development, Education, Health and Social Equity. These themes reflect the ethical and sustainable lenses through which our students apply their knowledge. Their successes are measured through stories that unfold in places as diverse as Muskogee, Oklahoma; Italy; and Uganda.

Below are some highlights from recent community engagement efforts. Additional examples can be found on the Oculus Blog. For more information about recent and upcoming projects, contact Angela Person (a@ou.edu).

2020-2021

Social Equity

Interior design undergraduate and graduate students in Mia Kile and Rick Skaggs Interior Design Studio IV presented 13 final project design proposals to the board of the National African American Jazz Legacy Museum in April. The semester long project culminated in presentations presented to the board for their review and consideration in a future museum. Read more here.

Development

Under the direction of Construction Science instructor, twelve Gibbs College students recently completed a building for the Osage Forest of Peace campus in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. The new “American School” structure will provide climate-controlled storage space for the forest operations. Students and faculty collaborated and participated in the construction project to benefit the Osage Forest. Read more here.

Education

Regional + City Planning Master’s student Daisy Munoz was appointed as Ward 6’s representative to the MAPS 4 Advisory Board by the City of Oklahoma City Mayor and confirmed by the City Council. Daisy recognized the importance of creating better opportunities for marginalized communities while disseminating information about opportunities for higher education. Read more here.

Social Equity

Did you know that Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate of women in the developed world? And many of the women who are incarcerated have children. Despite this, Oklahoma’s prison system makes few provisions for the health and community problems caused by the severance of the mother-child bonds. Faculty at the University of Oklahoma have begun asking what can be done to implement “healthful environments” that support mother-child bonding in female prisons in Oklahoma. Read more here.

Development

Second-year architecture students at the University of Oklahoma Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture recently worked to create ideas for a new canopy in Andrews Park’s amphitheater in Norman, Oklahoma. The original tensile structure used to cover the stage of the amphitheater collapsed in Summer 2020 after a violent thunderstorm. The goal of the studio project was to design a new “experiential canopy,” both for the stage and the seating areas of the amphitheater. Read more here.

Education

A community-led think tank is coming to Northeast Oklahoma City. The think tank, led by the University of Oklahoma, will research anti-racist frameworks in education through engaging stakeholders and researching precedents. OU faculty members lead the project with Vanessa Morrison, an affiliate faculty member in the College of Architecture and the co-founder of BlackSpace Oklahoma, a nonprofit organization on a mission to strengthen Black communities for social and spatial change. Read more here.

Social Equity

The Urban Design Studio, the OU-Tulsa Schusterman Library, and the Tom Love Innovation Hub have been working together to produce protective face shields using the Studio’s prototyping technology. The first round of 30 shields has been delivered to the OU Physicians-Tulsa clinic to help keep personnel safe as they faithfully serve their patients. Read more here.

Development

Students from the University of Oklahoma Urban Design Studio in Tulsa recently conducted a design workshop to create ideas for a courtyard in the historic Greenwood Center. Students proposed not one, but two performance stages, a cable-suspended shade structure, new connections between interior spaces, new lighting, and much more! Read more here.

Education

The Institute for Quality Communities (IQC) has been working with Oklahoma City’s Capitol Hill commercial district, Calle Dos Cinco, to build a plaza for the community. The IQC hosted a community workshop to create concepts for a plaza that would meet community needs. Volunteers worked with the IQC to construct a Pop-Up Plaza for to experience before moving toward a permanent solution. Read more here

2019-2020

Social Equity

The Osage Forest of Peace Board of Directors unanimously adopted a new campus plan created by students and faculty from Gibbs College’s Landscape Architecture, Architecture, Interior Design, Construction Science, and Urban Design programs. The adopted plan will serve as the Forest’s official guide for its expansion. Read more here.

Development

Regional + City Planning alumna and affiliate published theoretical reflections on the Women of Northeastern Oklahoma City Photovoice Project in the journal Gender, Place and Culture. The Photovoice project was unveiled in 2016 with the purpose of bringing the neighborhood safety concerns of black women to the attention of local policy makers. The article looks theoretically at Black feminist ideas and makes four key points. Read more here.

Education

The Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture Interior Design program recently partnered with its professional advisory board to host an all-day mentoring event. The event, held on Thursday, November 7, 2019, brought 19 industry professionals from Dallas, Oklahoma City and Tulsa to the OU campus for a full day spent sharing their experiences with more than 100 students. Read more here.

Health

Three Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture students spent part of their summer building a playhouse to be sold at the Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses competition. The competition raises funds for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving abused and neglected children in the area. Read more here.

Arts + Culture

First-year students in Architecture Design I studio were recently hosted by Factory Obscura, an “Oklahoma City-based art collective creating immersive experiences that awaken wonder, build community, and make the world better.” Read more here.

Social Equity

To help diversify the field of planning, the Division of Regional + City Planning has adopted a plan to recruit underrepresented students. Included in the plan is helping students gain more experience with and knowledge of diversifying cities and neighborhoods. Read more here.

Social Equity

An Architecture alumnus has continued his work with the OU Center for Peace and Development, helping to raise funds and support activities in Uganda and Zambia. He recommends other students get involved with this program as well because it is truly a life changing experience that builds empathy and valuable life experience. Read more here.

Education

Drawing on a survey of more than 9,000 hiring professionals, Design Intelligence ranked the Architecture program among the “Most Admired” in 2019. The Gibbs College of Architecture program ranks 17th nationally among public institutions and 37th overall. Read more here.

Development

Urban Design students kicked off their Great Streets project for Tulsa’s Maple Ridge Neighborhood. The students are analyzing neighborhood streets and working with residents to calm traffic, improve walkability, and look for placemaking opportunities at parklets and traffic islands. Read more here.

2018-2019

Social Equity

Students and faculty traveled to Zambia to use photovoice and focus groups. The course aims to create more effective spaces and identify community desires by helping design and asses the success of various architectural and planning projects. Previously, students in the course have helped design a village and schools. Read more here.

Development

The Institute for Quality Communities partnered with the city of Waurika, Oklahoma, to offer planning assistance with the support of the Oklahoma Municipal League. More than 30 GCA students worked with the city to solve problems such as walkability, accessibility, parks, empty buildings, and run-down side streets. Read more here.

Education

The Urban Design Studio at OU-Tulsa celebrated 30 years of building leaders and creating communities. Since 1988, the Urban Design Studio has been a flexible learning environment that brings students from different backgrounds, disciplines, and skills together to explore urban issues and develop design solutions. Read more here.

Arts + Culture

Architecture students partnered with the U.S. Department of State as part of a diplomacy lab to analyze findings about tourism development in the U.S. Then, they presented their work to the U.S. Embassy in Greece to assist with the country’s tourism practices, specifically diversity and sustainability in their tourism industry. Read more here.

Social Equity

Faculty and students from across the University traveled to Uganda as a continuation of many collaborations between the OU Center for Peace and Development and local peace-building organizations. They helped the Women’s Advocacy Network and People’s Voices for Peace learn more about their members. Read more here.

Health

Interior Design faculty members Natalie Ellis and Mia Kile, along with colleagues at OU-Tulsa, the OU Health Sciences Center, and Johns Hopkins University, were awarded a total of over $23,000 within the last year to pursue research related to “Infant-toddler teachers’ physical and psychological well-being.” Read more here.

Education

The Southern Plains Transportation Center at OU hosts the Langston University Transportation Academy as part of a program to encourage high school students to take STEM courses. Students experienced 3D visualization of transportation projects using virtual reality technology here at GCA. Read more here.

Development

GCA’s Institute for Quality Communities hosted the biannual 2019 Placemaking Conference. More than 600 practitioners, faculty and students from all over Oklahoma, as well as New York, California and Utah attended to hear presentations from experts in economic development, social sculpture, and more. Read more here.

Social Equity

Nonprofit Blackspace Oklahoma partnered with GCA, Blackspace NYC, Oklahoma Humanities, and the Women of the NE OKC Photovoice Project to hold a lecture series featuring renowned experts and speakers that focused on exploring community assets, values, identities and ideas within Black neighborhood spaces. Read more here.

2017-2018

Social Equity

A Regional and City Planning student explored the intersections of placemaking, culture and lived experiences within barbershop spaces, and conducted a feasibility study for a mobile barbershop in Oklahoma City. Later, she and her fiancé opened their own mobile barbershop to help eliminate obstacles for people who struggle to get to such culturally important spaces. Read more here.

Development

The Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture, Institute for Quality Communities and OU-Tulsa Urban Design Studio worked with the City of Muskogee to reimagine the city’s downtown in the plan, Downtown Muskogee: A Landscape of Hope, which was formally adopted by the city. Read more here.

Development

Students from the Urban Design Studio were able to bring a Stickwork sculpture, designed by renowned artist Patrick Dougherty, to Tulsa’s Chapman Green Park as part of a revitalization project initiated by Urban Core Art Project (UCAP). The students have been coordinating placemaking efforts for UCAP. Read more here.

Education

The Interior Design division worked with OU Libraries and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art to create the ArtEDGE program for fifty Norman Public School students. The students crafted designs inspired by an abstract sculpture through sketches, virtual reality and physical models. The models were then displayed at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art’s Education Gallery. Read more here.

Social Equity

Over 40 students from the Haskell and Irene Lemon Division of Construction Science helped build two affordable housing duplexes in Norman, Oklahoma. Students built one of the project’s duplexes, which was modeled after an identical duplex built by contractors. Both buildings are ADA-compliant and are under the ownership of the Norman Housing Authority. Read more here.

Education

The GCA hosted 24 high school students during its annual Architecture Camp. The camp provided students with tours, software knowledge, instruction in design and model building, and experience using laser cutters. The students completed sketching, design and model building challenges and finished the week with a final show for family and friends. Read more here.

Development

Regional + City Planning and Landscape Architecture students, along with faculty Meghan Wieters and Tom Woodfin, setup a bike rodeo to teach kids bike safety skills at Open Streets Norman 2018. The event, which was part of the Open Streets Project, closed down most of Webster Avenue to promote walking, biking and healthy living. Read more here.

Social Equity

The GCA hosted the Symposium on Women, Peace Building and Community Transformation in Post-Conflict Environments. The conference brought together grassroots advocates striving for justice and quality of life for women in post-conflict northern Uganda. The symposium was part of the launch of OU’s new Center for Peace and Development. Read more here.

Development

The Institute for Quality Communities continued its outreach partnership with the Oklahoma Municipal League for a second year. The partnership enabled students to create conceptual recommendations on built environment topics in a number of Oklahoma communities, including Comanche, Enid, Wynnewood, Wewoka and Chickasha. Read more here.

2016-2017

Development

Placemaking Conference Lecture

The OU Institute for Quality Communities hosted the third Placemaking Conference, where experts from around the world shared ideas for making better communities with an audience of more than 1,000 civic leaders from 58 counties in Oklahoma and 12 states.

Education

Award-Winning Students

Architecture and Construction Science students earned first place in the 2016 Southwest Region Design-Build Student competition and third place in the National Design-Build Student Competition, for their proposal to deliver design and construction services under one contract with a single point of responsibility.

Education

Summer Camp Participants

The College of Architecture and OU Precollegiate Programs cohosted 30 rising ninth and tenth grade students from across Oklahoma for a one-week program of hands-on learning activities relating to architecture, interior design, environmental design, and construction science. Read more here.

Social Equity

Landscape Architecture Project

A team of students led by an assistant professor of Landscape Architecture researched the experiences of children living with autism, mobility limitations, and vision and hearing impairments to understand how to create an inclusive play environment for Oklahoma City’s MAPS 3 Lower Park. Read more here.

Social Equity

Prof. Harris in Uganda

Faculty from Regional and City Planning and Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum founded the OU Center for Peace and Development, to build collaborative partnerships with communities affected by conflict, particularly in northern Uganda.

Education

Landscape Architecture Students

A team of Landscape Architecture students received the Central States American Society of Landscape Architects Communication Award for their digitally designed and fabricated model of the Oklahoma City National Memorial Marathon route, which was also short-listed for a World Landscape Architecture (WLA) Award.

Education

Students volunteering in Rome

Architecture students collaborated with the Capitoline Museum and the Academic Initiatives Abroad Center in Rome on a research and community service project that measured and documented ancient architectural remains stored on the historic Celian Hill overlooking the Roman Colosseum.

Arts + Culture

Donald MacDonald Lecturing

The College of Architecture kicked off a multi-year celebration of its American School legacy, hosting an all-day symposium featuring award-winning architects who focus on contextual, resourceful, and experimental design.

Social Equity

Students with women in Northern Uganda

Led by Regional and City Planning and Women’s and Gender Studies faculty, a team of OU students facilitated a photovoice project with women who were abducted during the Ugandan civil war and forced into marriages with rebels or conscripted as soldiers themselves, helping the women to tell their stories.

Development

Student Field Trip

Environmental Design students in the OU College of Architecture designed a recreation area around a reservoir in Altus, developed retail strategies in Oklahoma City’s Deep Deuce neighborhood, and planned restorations of historic train depots in Moore and Wagoner.

Social Equity

Students Volunteering

Led by an associate professor of Construction Science, students in the College of Architecture made two trips to Houston to help residents clean up in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Read more here.

Health

Institute for Quality Communities Project

The OU Institute for Quality Communities worked with the Texas County Health Department, Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, and City of Guymon to improve public health by making streets that encourage walking and biking.

Education

Award-Winning Students

Interior Design students earned top honors in the Dallas Illuminating Engineering Society Student
Lighting Competition.

Social Equity

CASA Playhouse Design

A team of College of Architecture students built a playhouse to help raise funds and awareness in support of Court Appointed Special Advocates, who provide children with a safe and healthy environment in permanent homes.

Education

Student Presentation

Construction Science and Architecture students took home top honors in the annual TEXO competition in the Commercial and Design-Build categories.

Education

Award-Winning Students

A team of Landscape Architecture students won the national Come Alive Outside Design Challenge for their design of an engaging outdoor learning environment.

Education

Tour of OKC Memorial

The University of Oklahoma College of Architecture hosted the American Society of Interior Designers’ National Student Summit, where students from across the country learned to navigate their careers and enhance their understanding of the impact of design on people and their environments.

Development

Community Participation Event

OU College of Architecture graduate students and the OU Institute for Quality Communities worked with local leaders to develop plans to improve economic vitality and sense of place in Midwest City, Cushing, and Vinita.

Development

IQC Workshop Participants

The OU Institute for Quality Communities partnered with the Oklahoma Municipal League to host a workshop training 80 city managers and elected officials on making public spaces that celebrate local culture and generate economic development.

Education

Award-Winning Student Project

An Interior Design student earned a spot in the “Top 10,” out of more than 800 students from 65 universities, in the Steelcase NEXT competition, which asks students to reimagine the design studio of the future.

Education

Memorial Design

Landscape Architecture students were honored by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and Oklahoma American Society of Landscape Architects for their Korean War Memorial projects. Read more here.

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