Take a group of people with a passion for civic engagement and a gift for collaboration, and you can end up with an amazing result: a parking lot that is transformed into a GardenPark. Lead faculty for Auburn University’s Civic Engagement in the Built Environment initiative (CEBE), Linda Ruth, associate professor in the McWhorter School of Building Science, Emily Myers, director of the Social Work Program in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, and Mike Hosey,
an adjunct professor in the McWhorter School of Building Science, needed a project for their CEBE students; Anne Penney, Director of the East Alabama Mental Health Center, wanted to give her adult day care consumers an outdoor space to enjoy; and Jonna Chizik, wife of Auburn Head Coach Gene Chizik, is active in the community and in matching needs with resources.
Together and with the assistance of many in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, Dr. Joe Eakes of the Department of Horticulture in the College of Agriculture, and the Auburn and Opelika communities, they created the Gene and Jonna Chizik Paradise GardenPark that was officially opened on Friday, April 15.
“We are always encouraging our players to think outside the box, and this garden is great example of what happens when you do,” said Coach Gene Chizik at the ribbon cutting. “My wife and I are honored to have our names attached to a project that is going to do a lot of good for a lot of people.”
Located at the Adult Day Services Center in Opelika, the Gardenpark is a former parking lot. Now an area for recreation and enjoyment, the GardenPark has flowering plant beds, a fountain, a basketball court, uniquely designed concrete benches, and a one-of-a-kind fence design. Numerous collaborations and volunteers helped to un-pave a parking lot and put in paradise. Because the project incorporates sustainable design measures such as incorporating used railroad ties, reusing the asphalt to extend the sidewalk, creating the design for the water feature and providing drainage layers for the planters, it was selected for presentation by the Building Materials Reuse Association at Decon 11 in New Haven, CT in May.
Linda Ruth coordinated the efforts of students among the College of Architecture, Design and Construction’s programs of Architecture, Building Science, Landscape Architecture, and Industrial Design. Professors Michael Hein and Steve Williams in the McWhorter School of Building Science supervised the design and construction of concrete benches as a service learning project for their Structures III classes. Tsai Lu Liu, Professor of Industrial Design in the Department of Industrial + Graphic Design, and Jocelyn Zanzot, Landscape Architecture professor, served as advisors to the graduate students who created the fence and landscape design.
It was a hands-on, real world learning experience for the students involved. As Linda Ruth explains, “CEBE allows students to develop their skills in leadership, time management, communication, teamwork, and critical thinking by applying their knowledge to real projects and real clients with needs; all done within the context of a multidisciplinary team, which is the way that they will work after graduation.”
An initial seed money grant from Home Depot got the project started, and other community partners helped make the Gene and Jonna Chizik Paradise GardenPark a true town and gown collaboration. Support for the GardenPark came from Alabama Concrete Industries, Beck’s Turf Farm, Inc., Blooming Colors, Brownfield Plant Farms, Builder’s First Source, Creative Habitat, Eagle Enterprises, East Chemical Company, Fred Owen Construction, Mammoth Print-Shop, Pop and Jey Koehler, Stacy’s Plant Farm, Thurlow Tree Nursery, and Turner Fence Company.
For more information about the Civic Engagement in the Built Environment initiative, contact Linda Ruth at 344-844-5375 or firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about sustainable design and construction, green career paths and community engagement and collaborative projects in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction, visit www.cadc.auburn.edu