Urban Studio Celebrates Grand Opening of Its New Location
Urban Studio, the Auburn University Center for Architecture and Urban Studies, celebrated the grand opening of its new location in downtown Birmingham on Wednesday, September 3. Vini Nathan, Dean and McWhorter Chair in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction welcomed faculty, staff, friends, and special guests who included the Mayor of Birmingham, William Bell, Sr. and President and CEO of Sloss Real Estate, Cathy Sloss Jones to the new, more centrally located Urban Studio at 221 20th Street North at the corner of 3rd Avenue North.
“One of the most exciting aspects of the new location is its visibility,” says David Hinson, Head of the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture. “All the previous homes we’ve had have been on the upper floors of downtown buildings. Despite being in Birmingham for over twenty years, many had no idea where we were. The ground-floor space we have at our new home and the key location will make us hard to miss.”
Founded in 1991, Auburn’s Urban Studio is an APLA outreach initiative that has sought out projects, which are not only good educational opportunities for CADC students but also ways to be engaged with citizens, leaders and practicing professionals who are working to make Birmingham and Alabama a better place to live. Urban Studio students and faculty have played early and influential roles in the incubation and development of civic projects that have changed the face of Birmingham, such as design studies for Railroad Park, the Sloss Furnace Master Plan, the Birmingham Museum of Art, downtown’s Park Place neighborhood, and most recently the Rotary Trail project on First Avenue South.
As Dean Nathan explains, “Birmingham and its diverse districts and neighborhoods have provided two decades of Auburn students with a rich context for study and preparation for their professional careers. Many of our alumni are now playing important roles in Birmingham’s emergence as a robust center of the ‘creative economy’.”
Urban Studio’s Small Town Design Initiative, developed by Cheryl Morgan, Urban Studio Director from 2001 to 2014, took the Urban Studio ethos of advocacy for good design and planning across the state, serving more than seventy Alabama neighborhoods and communities. The STDI helps communities identify those positive assets that can be the basis of a sound master plan for physical and economic vitality.
Now entering its third decade as a learning lab/design think tank and community outreach center under the leadership of interim director Alex Krumdieck, Urban Studio’s new home in downtown Birmingham provides a fresh setting for current and future Auburn students to both learn from and contribute to the City of Birmingham and to the State of Alabama.