Live Learn District

Iowa State University
Semester: Summer 2011
Course: Architectural Studio
Instructor: Chuck Mcbride

A developer or city’s typical response to underdeveloped, under used, and/or abandoned areas is to replace them with mixed use residential in the New Urban Style – a method replicated throughout the United States. The City of Des Moines’ 2008 Downtown Plan proposes to revitalize the area south of MLK Parkway with essentially the same response to all other underutilized areas in the city. Build housing. While there is no inherent problem with building more housing, we must ask ourselves, what else can be done?

My proposal for the area south of MLK Parkway is not just to build housing but to add something more to the city. The Live-Learn Campus is a collaborative educational district that would be operated by any of the state’s universities and smaller educational institutions. The district would offer a variety of courses, ranging from the fine arts to computer technology. The area would become more than a neighborhood – offering not only mixed housing but also a variety of retail from food to art supplies. Classrooms, workshop, and differing educational facilities on the first and second levels mixed with retail and services would diversify the area, creating a community where a person can live, work, learn, and play.