ESLARP East St. Louis Action Research Project 
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Master planning and design
for the Alta Sita Neighborhood

East St. Louis Action Research Project (ESLARP)

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Architecture 374, Prof. Robert Selby, Architecture
Landscape Architecture 338, Prof. Brian Orland, Landscape Architecture
Urban and Regional Planning 378, Prof. Kenneth Reardon, Urban and Regional Planning

Class meets 1:00-4:00pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays
Class Outline, Class Information Resources.

Since 1990 ESLARP has completed several master planning studies in partnership with neighborhood action groups in East St. Louis, most recently an Emerson Park Development Corporation (EPDC) initiative to site 200 new housing units to take advantage of a new light rail station starting construction in Emerson Park. (ESLARP Update here)

1998 workshops laid the groundwork for major new initiatives in the provision of housing for lower income residents, include an ESL Housing Authority investigation of the market for, and potential siting of, a range of housing options including cluster homes and scattered site developments both in the public and private sectors.  LA338-Spring '98 focused on the siting and green space development issues associated with housing plans at scales ranging from city-wide strategic plans to green space design associated with particular housing layouts.

Our proposal this semester is to focus on the Alta Sita neighborhood and somewhat smaller scale proposals to illustrate the various options available to citizens both in making appropriate responses to the constraints of existing site and neighborhood conditions, and in achieving satisfying and enhanced quality of life for future residents.


This course is about application of community development principles and techniques to the solution of environmental, economic and social problems facing low income urban communities. Participants collaborate with neighborhood leaders to produce stabilization plans promoting business development, job generation, housing improvement and municipal service delivery. Involves group projects and off-campus field work.   The neighborhood being served is Alta Sita, in East St. Louis, Illinois.  Our community partner is the Alta Sita Neighbors, Inc.  Our interdisciplinary studio/workshop will initiate a comprehensive planning process and will include architectural and landscape architectural design projects as details of the comprehensive plan.  Here is a more detailed map of Alta Sita. These questions will be asked first from a theoretical and detached point-of-view, and then through interaction with community residents.

Students may wish to see examples from a similar planning process for the Emerson Park Neighborhood.

Students will meet with residents and others to develop agendas for the eighborhood plan.  Design projects will be selected after the plan has begun, and in consultation with community partners.  Accordingly, this class will be more open-ended than typical design studios.

This studio will work in teams, share interdisciplinary experience, and work with people in Alta Sita to plan their neighborhood in accordance with their vision of what the neighborhood should be.

Course Outline

Strategic design -  Master planning for enhanced quality of life in East St. Louis:
Multi-scale land resource analysis and design


Part One:

Background research, project definition program development  
Two weeks, 10% of final grade

Part Two:

Analysis phase.  
Two weeks, 10% of final grade 

Part Three:

Concept development phase.  
Two weeks, 10% of final grade

Part Four:

Design development  
Two and a half weeks, 20% of final grade 

Part Five

Final presentation preparation  
Seven weeks, 50% of final grade 

Course Attendance

Class meets Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, 1:00-4:00pm.

We will be working with studios in Architecture and Urban and Regional Planning who in past years have had somewhat different schedules than ours.  Architecture 374 meets MWF 1:00 to 4:00pm, Urban and Regional Planning 378 meets Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 2:00 to 4:00.  Working with Prof. Harkness we have moved our traditional class times so that we can effect a closer collaboration.  You are asked to make special efforts to make our collaboration work.  If this schedule causes you any special difficulties with other required or supporting elective classes talk to me immediately and we will work to accommodate your needs.

You will be expected to attend every scheduled class period, Wednesday through Friday, so that I can keep in touch with your progress.  I expect you, in addition, to meet with your team partners out of class time and to make arrangements to meet me at non-class times as you feel necessary.  You are expected to be in class unless told explicitly that attendance is not necessary. There will be mandatory field trips during the semester, usually leaving early Friday mornings and returning Saturday or Sunday afternoons. Even within class times I must occasionally take time out to attend meetings elsewhere on campus.  I will arange make-up times as required.

In addition we are setting-up an electronic, on-line forum for information-sharing, problem-solving and discussion. For that we will use FirstClass software.

It is easiest to reach me via e-mail --
You can try the phone too -- 333-0177, but I rarely check voice mail
Or you can drop by -- 308 Temple Buell Hall


... is critical. You neither contribute nor gain from a class if you are not present. I will view unexcused absences very seriously and will deduct 5% from your grade for each one.

I will keep a record of attendance/non-attendance which will influence your final grades in the following manner:

  1. If a student collects four unexcused absences during the course of the semester, the students final grade will be reduced one full grade;
  2. An unexcused late arrival (after 1:30) will be counted as one-half of an absence.  Therefore eight late arrivals, or a combination of late arrivals and unexcused absences totaling four unexcused absences, will result in a full grade reduction;
  3. Excused absences will be granted for medical reasons, or if some work needs to be done in a different location, and can only be done during the class period (this should be discussed ahead of time).  If you need to be away from your work area during class time, leave a note clearly visible on top of your table.


A, B, C, etc letter grades with +/-.
Refer to the departmental guidelines for detailed explanations but we regard good work as "B" work. "A" is reserved for truly outstanding work, "C" is adequate and "D" is below our expectations for you. Plus (+) will be applied to the studentís grade when the work exceeds the evaluation criteria of a grade level, but is still deficient in the criteria expected for the next highest grade level

Minus (-) will be applied to the studentís grade when the work comes close to, but still hasnít reached, the evaluation criteria of a grade level.

The instructor will be available for appointments to discuss grades or other issues throughout the semester.  Grade sheets will be distributed after each review. 

Group working

I expect most of the work in this class to be conducted by groups of students working together.  However, it is important that I try to differentiate between individuals' input in order to assign grades.  For this reason every piece of work from your group should indicate who took the major role.  If I am left in any doubt I will assume you each contributed equally.

Preliminary dates:

Week 1. 
Jan 20-Jan 22

Wed Jan 20: Course Introduction 
Background research, project definition program development.  
One and a half weeks, 10% of final grade.
Fri Jan 22: ESL database orientation:  
325 Buell Hall, 1:00pm 
Abhijeet Chavan, 244-6076  
Deanna Koenigs, 333-2939

Week 2. 
Jan 25-Jan 29

Wed Jan 273:00pm  
Project definition and program
Fri Jan 29-Sat/SunSite Visit:  
Depart Temple Buell Hall, 7:00am, return 7:00pm. Saturday or 3:00pm Sunday  
Various sites in East St. Louis.

Week 3. 
Feb 1-Feb 5

Wed Feb 3: Project definitions and timelines due 
Introduction to Analysis phase.  
Four weeks, 25% of final grade.

Week 4. 
Feb 8-Feb 12

Week 5. 
Feb 15-Feb 19

Fri Feb 19-Sat/SunWork weekend #2 and Alta Sita Neighborhood survey:  
Depart Temple Buell Hall, 7:00am, return 7:00pm. Saturday or 3:00pm Sunday  
Various sites in East St. Louis.

Week 6. 
Feb 22-Feb 26

Week 7. 
Mar 1-Mar 5

Thurs Mar 4Student Team Presentations for faculty review on campus 
Prepare for project presentations in East St. Louis. 
Fri Mar 5Student Team Presentations for faculty review on campus 

Week 8. 
Mar 8-Mar 12

Mar 23-Mar 27 Spring Break

Wed Mar 18:  Alta Sita Neighbors, Inc. Meeting

Week 9.
Mar 22-Mar26

Fri Mar 26-Sat Mar 27: Work weekend #2  
Depart Temple Buell Hall, 7:00am, return 7:00pm. Saturday. Institutional surveys, Infrastructure survey.

Week 10. 
Mar 29-Apr 2

Week 11. 
Apr 5-Apr 9

Week 12. 
Apr 12-Apr 16

Fri Apr 16-Sat Apr 17: Neighborhood Summit.

Week 13. 
Apr 19-Apr 23

Fri Apr 23-Sat Apr 24: Work weekend #3  
Depart Temple Buell Hall, 7:00am, return 7:00pm. Saturday.

Week 14. 
Apr 26-Apr30

Thurs Apr 29Student Team Presentations for faculty review on campus 
Prepare for project presentations in East St. Louis.
Fri Apr 30Student Team Presentations for faculty review on campus 
Prepare for project presentations in East St. Louis.

Week 15. 
May 3-May 5

Wed May 5: On-campus presentation of final neighborhood plans.

Week 16. 
May 10-May 14

Final Examinations.
Tue May 11:  Alta Sita Neighbors, Inc. Meeting.  Present neighborhood plans and designs.

LA338, Spring 1999


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