The summer 2020 CityStudioSTL Fellows—Teddy Levy (MArch22/MUD22), Tiffany Dockins (MArch22/MUD22), and Natia Kapanadze (MLA20)—took on a new challenge: working remotely on community engaged and civic projects in the St. Louis region.
The CityStudioSTL Fellowships are partnerships with local St. Louis firms in which a Sam Fox School architecture, landscape architecture, or urban design student dives into projects that address the social, ecological, and cultural challenges of St. Louis. This year’s firm partners were Trivers, PGAV Planners, and Arbolope.
Levy worked with Trivers on a variety of projects, including a housing plan in the Fountain Park neighborhood and construction documentation for Doorways, an organization that provides supportive housing to people affected by HIV/AIDS. His experience was spread across a variety of projects at different points in the process of design, giving him a chance to see how different projects come to life.
While at PGAV Planners, Dockins took on one substantial project: creating a plan for future development in Marquette Park in partnership with the Dutchtown South Community Corporation and Downtown Dutchtown. Dockins worked independently, connecting with community partners and doing site assessment and research throughout the neighborhood.
Kapanadze also worked on a variety of projects while at Arbolope, including the outdoor spaces in the Doorways development and visualizations for a project at Peace Park in the College Hill neighborhood.
While the overall experience was quite different from working in the office and in the field, the fellows expressed that the support and relationships they built from their fellowships were highly beneficial. For example, Kapanadze was able to connect with her Arbolope colleagues at a distance in Forest Park. Dockins said, “Catherine Hamacher [liaison for PGAV Planners] was really good at getting me in contact with different people in the office, including architects.” Levy reported similar support at Trivers, which was essential in bridging the divide and fostering connections at a time when incidental meetups in the lunch room and hallway weren’t possible.
Like past Fellows, this year’s participants reported that the fellowship helped them to further hone their career goals and directions. “It was really exciting to see how underserved groups can be engaged in residential projects,” Levy said. “Trivers did a good job of providing high-quality architecture, given cost constraints. I’m interested in being involved in that.”
For Dockins, the experience allowed her to become immersed in a new aspect of architecture. Working with a planning firm showed her the differences between the different disciplines, revealed the ways that design and planning can work hand-in-hand, and helped her build project management and community engagement skills.
The 2020 fellows called the fellowship a “secret gem” of the Sam Fox School. “I hope other people find out about this opportunity,” Dockins said.
Applications for the summer 2021 fellowships will be available in the spring semester.