Sustaining the future with today's students

“The Sustainable Cities Initiative,” The New York Times wrote, “is perhaps the most comprehensive effort by a U.S. university to infuse sustainability into its curricula and community outreach.”

UO architecture faculty member Nico Larco (above right) and former graduate student Morgan Law ’09 collaborated on a design and sustainability research question that involved housing, urban design, and energy efficiency.

Working as part of the 2009 Pietro Belluschi visiting professorship program with guest faculty member Will Bruder, students and faculty members examined a large number of design solutions including ways to design the buildings for maximum energy efficiency. They also produced a street-scale environment in harmony with a high-rise structure.

In addition, some 600 UO students from 25 courses are working in Salem—putting in 80,000 hours of work—as part of the Sustainable Cities Initiative. Multiple programs are involved (architecture; arts and administration; planning, public policy and management; law; business; and journalism and communication).

Students are looking at redevelopment of Salem’s north downtown waterfront, examining dairy and water processing for reuse of waste products, and eyeing civic engagement strategies to improve the city’s decision-making process. In its second year, the Sustainable City Year program has expanded to build on its success last year in Gresham (schematic above), where student recommendations are being considered for future development.

“If there isn’t a lot of economic activity and ability to make these kinds of substantive changes in the built environment today, then it’s the perfect time to be laying out the ideas and plans for the future,” said initiative codirector Marc Schlossberg.

READ MORE in Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies ANNUAL REPORT 2010.