Environmental Design Students Create Proposals for Opelika Bike Trails
During the Spring 2020 semester, Jennifer Smith, assistant professor of environmental design (ENVD) at Auburn University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, challenged her students to create proposals for the design of a network of ADA accessible trails for Creekline Trails of Opelika. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer on the project, a multi-use trail system for cyclists, walkers and runners that has been designed to follow Opelika’s scenic streams and connect with parks, schools and businesses.
Because Smith was involved in Creekline Trails’ initial planning stages, she decided to invite the non-profit’s founders, Shealy and Rocky Langley, to interact with her students in the course ENVD 5030: Studies in Design Thinking and Praxis. After discussing the Langleys’ plans and vision for the future, Smith’s students began work by focusing on the goals of recreational opportunities, watershed protection and alternate transportation. Their proposals included ideas for watering stations, spaces for rest and social activities, a non-profit bike and book shop and technology-free, easily navigated routes. They also suggested pocket parks and an outdoor fitness course as well as planting strategies that would help to clean and maintain waterways. The Langleys, along with representatives from the City of Opelika, attended final presentations of the students’ work and provided productive, encouraging feedback.
Smith says that the Langleys have been an inspiration to her because of their dedication to making a local impact, and she hopes her students were inspired as well. “By partnering in their work, our students were able to develop projects encouraging social equity, sustainability and a strong economy for our community,” she stated.