Sustainable Design Students Present Development Plans at Town Meeting

Students in the M.S. in Sustainable Design Program presented proposals for new uses for underused properties in Frenchtown, N.J., at a Dec. 5 public meeting in the community’s Town Hall.

The presentations were the culmination of a semester-long studio class project. “The purpose of the studio is to give the students an opportunity to apply their knowledge to a real-world design problem,” associate professor Robert Fryer said.

Early in the semester, the seven sustainable design students and Frenchtown Mayor Warren Cooper identified two sites in the borough that are underdeveloped, prone to flooding and most in need of re-design: Borough Park along Creek Road and an old egg hatchery.

The students then participated in a four-hour design charette exploring development ideas for the two sites in collaboration with the mayor, several dozen Frenchtown residents and PhilaU adjunct faculty member Sarah Endriss.

The student design team proposed replacing an existing building at Borough Park with a new sustainable LEED Platinum community center and updating the park to include public gardens, play landscapes for children, pavilions, new restrooms, permeable parking spaces and solar panels.

Since Frenchtown is home to a thriving art scene, but lacks a designated space for these activities, the students proposed an arts center at the egg hatchery that would include a theater, studio spaces and cafés along the nearby Delaware River waterfront trails. “The arts center includes landscape elements that increase the connection with the river while also using berms and other landscape features to ease flooding,” Fryer said.

Sustainable design students Peter Williams, Barbara Moore, Jacqueline Cusack, Caitlin Thomas, Kevin Weidman, Joseph Andracchio and Rafael De Luna participated in the project.

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