Community + Nature Lake Spring & James River

Thirteen Hammons School of Architecture Third-Year architectural students are part of a design studio that focuses on community-focused development near Lake Springfield and along the James River. The studio instruction is in a highly engaging workshop-style format where students work together to create a master plan and design supporting building structures with various programs.

The students engaged in two site visits, conducted a community polling exercise, and participated in one-on-one interviews. Additionally, they hosted two open houses at Drury University where they presented their projects to critics and facilitated feedback for design improvements.

Programmatic concepts for the Lake Springfield Master Plan include a Kayak Recreation Center, Natural Science Center, Scenic Overlook, Meditation Retreats, Housing for the Homeless, Scuba Diving Facility, Fishing Piers, Nature Learning Center, Beach and Concert Venues, Active Waterfronts, Amphitheater & Exhibition Hall, a "Carbon Sink" mixed-use residential development and a Convention Center at James Power Station.

The students' design innovation, ingenuity, and thoughtfulness elevate the Lake Springfield area as a key natural asset to the Springfield community and surrounding region.

South Round Top Neighborhood Development and Resilience Plan

The senior studio of the UMKC Urban Planning and Design Program at UMKC worked with the South Round Top Neighborhood Association from August 2022 through December 2022 to develop a neighborhood plan. The work was critical to the organizational development and progress of the neighborhood association toward a plan.

The work focused on housing conditions, neighborhood risks and resilience, public realm, transportation, vacant lot and environmental conditions, and neighborhood businesses. One component of the plan focused on risks and resiliency – as a way to address the many challenges facing this community – which was supported by Dr. Julia Crowley at UMKC.

Located in Kansas City, Missouri, the South Round Top Neighborhood includes about 40 city blocks in the heart of the Third City Council District. The area is a historic, African-American neighborhood that was impacted by redlining and the construction of the I-70 highway on the northeastern edge of the area. Today the area remains a majority Black neighborhood with about 40% of the housing owner-occupied.

The students used tablets and ArcGIS to conduct a sidewalk survey of every housing unit in the neighborhood (exterior conditions). This work was critical for the development of the neighborhood housing stabilization strategy and prioritization of limited funding for housing repairs. Students raised awareness of the planning process during the house-to-house survey on the sidewalk in the neighborhood. This helped to increase attendance at monthly meetings and awareness of the neighborhood association’s activities.

Monthly meetings were held at the local YMCA on Linwood Boulevard in the neighborhood, and the students presented at each meeting and helped to facilitate several meetings including a risk and resilience workshop and a community design charrette.

Student research informed the neighborhood leaders’ understanding of the opportunities for neighborhood stabilization and development. The traffic component focused on walkability and safety – especially in areas with high automobile traffic and crashes. Students surveyed vacant lots as part of an environmental analysis – which helped to support the neighborhood association’s beautification strategy. The students also identified historical challenges – such as HOLC redlining and an underground oil leak that continues to impact the area’s public health.

The neighborhood association now has a neighborhood plan and the detailed research needed to implement housing improvements with funding from the City of Kansas City, Missouri, and the Kansas City office of LISC. Christina Hoxie of Hoxie Collective led efforts following the students’ work to advance the neighborhood association’s leadership and development.

Students demonstrated the values of the APA, and AICP Code of Ethics through this project. They showed the power of community-engaged urban planning and design to advance neighborhood stabilization. Students worked side by side with neighborhood leaders and residents, planning professionals, and a wide variety of stakeholders. The students each demonstrated a high level of leadership in the process and were critical to the process of planning for neighborhood revitalization and an equitable development strategy.