Friday, September 14, 2007

This Buckeye Says "Go Blue!"

Although the timing of this post may seem to coincide with Michigan’s 0-2 start to the football season, this is not a knock on the Wolverines and has nothing to do with football. It’s a post about 14 University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning Masters Program Students. Their summer project was to spend some time in the City of Youngstown, specifically the Downtown and YSU Campus areas and work on creating the kind of downtown environment that they envisioned.

I had the privilege to sit in on an initial meeting with the students and propose some ideas as well as spend some time with them while they were visiting. What an impressive group! They not only represent the United States, but the countries of Korea, India, Taiwan, China, and Ghana. They are the best and brightest of the Architecture and Urban Design world and have real-world experience to back them up. They brought in a fresh perspective and new ideas.

On August 27th, they presented their final project to us. They broke up into 5 teams assigned to different topics (Corridors, Tram Connector/Green Connector, Activity Spaces, Parking and Park/River Park, and Follies). Wow! Their work blew me away. They touched on linking the University not only to Downtown, but also to the River. They presented ideas on parking consolidation, green spaces, outdoor amphitheatres and parks, museums and arts incubators, and plenty of new uses for existing structures. Too much to write here.

No need to worry, though. Their work will soon be available online to check out.

Many may say that these ideas are “pie in the sky” and cannot happen. I, along with many others, believe that many, if not all of their ideas can and will happen. But the most important thing to take from this experience is this: Outsiders came here without knowing Youngstown and saw Opportunity. They knew very little of the past and saw what some of our very own often fail to see…Potential.

Youngstown captured their spirit. Many addressed the crowd with, “We need to do this…” instead of “You need to do this.” Even if it was just for a month, they felt a part of Youngstown and the revitalization happening here.

When the project is available online check it out. Capture their spirit and think of the possibilities we have when we work together. These Michigan students saw potential and opportunity where many haven’t. We need to as well.

Thanks again to the students for their time and effort.

Who knows, maybe a few will locate here when they are done with school to help build their dream…Our Dream.

For that, this Buckeye gives a big shout out to these UM students and (maybe only once) a “Go Blue!”