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Syracuse University students contribute ideas and concepts for Connective Corridor
Students from several of Syracuse University’s schools and colleges are using their creativity to craft ideas for the Connective Corridor, the project that will link SU with downtown Syracuse and promote access to the city’s arts and culture communities.
The students are participating in an academic program, “Imagining the Connective Corridor,” to develop suggestions for the corridor’s design and ideas for activities and amenities to be offered along the new public pathway. The City of Syracuse and the University are expected to announce a competition for professional design teams to develop a model and plan for constructing the Connective Corridor. Student suggestions and ideas from the community will be given to the teams to assist them in developing their designs. The students will also suggest activities and amenities that will add to the corridor’s appeal to the public, and they will engage in projects that will assist community organizations along the corridor’s route.
The program builds upon the work students conducted last semester and will continue through next fall. In the fall 2005 semester, the Industrial Design Studio class in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) developed concepts to assist the University’s transition to The Warehouse in downtown Syracuse. This semester, the class-taught by Don Carr, associate professor of industrial and interaction design, and Denise Heckman, assistant professor of industrial and interaction design-is developing design concepts for the corridor and building models of the ideas proposed by the students.
“By building and then transforming such everyday objects as bus stops, sidewalk kiosks and on-bus displays, we hope to challenge the notion of what life along the corridor might be,” Carr says.
Chancellor Nancy Cantor proposed the Connective Corridor in March 2005 as a public walkway and shuttle bus circuit linking the University with downtown Syracuse and the numerous art institutions, entertainment venues and public spaces along the way. The goal is to create a dynamic arts and culture center that will contribute to the quality of life on the Hill and in the community. National Grid, the lead corporate partner in the project, is sponsoring the Connective Corridor design competition with a grant through the New York State Public Service Commission-approved Economic Development Plan.
To establish a presence in downtown Syracuse, the University purchased and transformed the former Dunk & Bright warehouse into a multi-use space, including a temporary home for the School of Architecture while Slocum Hall on the main campus is being renovated. The school will also maintain a long-term presence in The Warehouse with its Upstate: A Center for Design, a design think tank focused on rejuvenating the upstate New York region. The Warehouse also provides studio space for the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ communications design and advertising design departments and the Goldring Arts Journalism program has its downtown-operating base in the building. More than 600 students, faculty and staff are in the area on a daily basis, bringing added energy and vitality in the daytime hours to a section of the city best known for its exciting and eclectic nightlife. In addition, special projects and displays at The Warehouse will attract visitors from outside the University to the Armory Square area and to other sections of the city contiguous to Armory Square.
To make the Connective Corridor and The Warehouse more inviting, students have specific suggestions for the use of lighting, movement and interaction. “We can have an interactive screen or kiosk at The Warehouse, so people downtown are able to see what’s going on up here on the Hill and people here (at the University) can see what’s happening down there,” says Dan Dugas, a seniorindustrial and interaction design major. His classmate, Cassandra Ellis, also a senior industrial and interaction design major, envisions a series of colorful banners along the corridor route to alert people to the area’s cultural and arts attractions.
The design students will be working collaboratively with classes in other schools and colleges-including the Newhouse School, the Whitman School of Management and the School of Information Studies (IST)-to offer comprehensive ideas for the corridor.
In the Building with a Conscience course, co-taught by Elet Callahan, professor of law and public policy in the Whitman School, and Gary Radke, professor of fine arts in The College of Arts and Sciences, students are working with Syracuse’s Grace Episcopal Church to create a plan for the site’s historical preservation. In the spring and fall 2006 semesters, students from the Newhouse School will develop a public relations strategy for the Connective Corridor. The senior capstone classes in IST, taught by Murali Venkatesh, associate professor and director of IST’s Community and Information Technology Institute, are researching methods to integrate information technology along the corridor through broadband access and interactive kiosks.
“This is a terrific opportunity for civic engagement and for learning,” Venkatesh says. “I am excited for my students and look forward to guiding them on their research and design work.”
According to Eric Persons, director in the Office of Engagement Initiatives, the courses give students the opportunity to apply the lessons and skills they learn in the classroom in a real-world situation and work collaboratively to share information and develop ideas for the corridor. “We hope other classes can take a look at what these students are doing and find ways in which their own course work can feed into the development of the Connective Corridor,” he says.
Professors or students interested in incorporating course work on the Connective Corridor into their curricula should contact Persons at 443-4137 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.