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This project exposes vacancy as a function of time, place, and neglect in East St. Louis: its potential as one of the area's assets is to be discovered. The proposal seeks to implement and encourage change to celebrate what time has erased by giving reason and function to such emptiness. Olivette Park and Emerson Park, two East St. Louis residential neighborhoods adjacent to the city's main street, are the focus of design explorations. The site poses a juxtaposition of intrigue: a rich history overgrown with decay and neglect. Amid the vacancy: places and destination. The design aims to strengthen these places of destination, considered to be the neighborhood's existing infrastructure of churches, parks, schools, community outreach centers, and cultural centers, by anchoring them in a framework for a productive, sustainable, and healthy way of living.

This framework is to be understood at varying scales and intended for its parts to be implemented over time. The design is primarily about two perpendicular streets, Summit Avenue and Katherine Dunham Place, and their primary proposed purposes, agriculture and culture, respectively. Large swatches of land will be given to commercial agriculture, tying Olivette and Emerson Park to a regional industry. Not only will these plantings provide a new landscape for the neighborhood, but also provide a new economy with which the community and the individual can nurture development, growth, and stability. Along Summit Avenue, a new streetscape will foster smaller scale agriculture in the form of community gardens. Mediating the edge of the industrial landscape and neighborhood streetscape, a new housing typology will respond to the presence and views of the industrial landscape in the "back" as well as rethink a house's relationship to the street in the "front." Development along Katherine Dunham Place seeks to reawaken the spirit and vision of a historically significant resident, Katherine Dunham. The proposed changes to Katherine Dunham Place will provide a green artery along which outlets for cultural, artistic, and educational activity can inspire and educate.

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Subject Categories

Urban, Community and Regional Planning

Rights Statement

© 2009 Longenderfer

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