Community-Based Open Space Design for East St. Louis

LA 336/438

Spring 2005

Professor Laura Lawson


LA 336/438A Report


This year’s East St. Louis vertical studio focused on park and open space design. Once a thriving industrial city, East St. Louis currently struggles to maintain existing parks and activate vacant land amid concerns about flooding, environmental hazards left from industry, depopulation, poverty, and crime.  This is a university community-learning course in which students learn about local conditions and concerns directly from residents while providing professional services to neighborhood organizations seeking to improve their communities. Students have developed designs that address environmental conditions, incorporate community history, satisfy residents’ needs and concerns, and offer new opportunities for future generations.  Projects include:


Park Systems for East St. Louis (4 phases to this project)

An ideal for a “new” city developed on the site of what is now East St. Louis

2.   An analysis of East St. Louis conditions prior to visiting the city

3.   A proposed park system that synthesizes an ideal with mapped conditions

4.   A park system / city development strategy in light of semester’s experiences


41st Street Corridor Park: Working with the 41st St. Action Group, student teams proposed designs for a new 3.5-acre linear park along existing railroad right-of-way.  Four projects were presented at a community meeting for discussion. Based on community feedback, a final design was developed and approved by the residents, who intend to build the park.


Jones Park Fountain:  The Emma L. Wilson King family foundation is seeking to restore the Jones Park fountain, which has not functioned for over thirty years. Students met with fifteen family members at the site in February to discuss project objectives.  In March, the students presented sixteen alternative designs, from which four were selected for further development. One design will be selected at the foundation’s April meeting.

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Lincoln Park:  The South End New Development Organization wants to restore Lincoln Park. Students met with residents and conducted fieldwork. Student design teams developed designs grounded in three concerns: safety, expanded activities, and historical interpretation. 





Ryan Bordewick

Eric Braun

Neil Brumleve

Erin Canterbury

Alec Cashman

Matthew Colby

Jenifer Eccles

Colleen Hahn

Anthony McClellan

Rachel Quigley-Buttita

Timothy Slazinik

Adam Sturtewagen

Andrew Vance

Alan Watkins

Lindsay Weinberg

Julie Whitgrove

Research Assistant Sungkyung Lee

With assistance from ESLARP staff, faculty, and students, including Vicki Eddings, Janni Sorensen, Sangjun Kang, and Justin Placek, as well as NTAC staffmember Billie Turner.