UT Students Win APA Award for Creating Inclusive Corridors Project

Students in Associate Professor Elizabeth Mueller‘s spring 2012 affordable housing seminar were recently named the 2012 recipients of the Dr. Kent Butler Student Planning Award by the Central Texas Section of the American Planning Association for their project “Creating Inclusive Corridors: Austin’s Airport Boulevard.” (Mueller is a  faculty affiliate of the UT Opportunity Forum).

The 16 students in the course were drawn from the Community and Regional Planning, Sustainable Design, Public Affairs, Social Work, Education, and Architecture Programs. Working in five teams, they studied the larger context for corridor redevelopment in Austin; documented who lives in corridor neighborhoods, their housing conditions and access to necessary amenities; developed strategies for using the tools of “form-based codes” to make existing small-scale rental housing compatible with neighborhood plan design guidelines and the vision for the corridor; estimated the per unit costs of rehabilitating two sample buildings while maintaining current affordable rent levels; and researched policy options for funding housing improvements and for improving neighborhood conditions.

Alan Holt, principal planner heading up the Airport Boulevard initiative for the City of Austin, commended the students on their “exceptional and comprehensive” work. He deemed the project “rooted in reality, responsive to unfolding events, and contributing to a better outcome for the city initiative.”

Chance Sparks, Central Texas APA chapter head, said: “One of the best aspects, and what made this project stand out, was its ability to recognize real-world challenges and feasibility. Projects such as this, when conducted in an academic setting, are often met with skepticism, as being dreams and idealism lacking practical grounding. This is decidedly not the case, as these issues are tackled from both a public sector, policy-oriented approach, as well as a private sector, financially-focused approach. The resulting pro forma on the private sector side is not unlike something that would be prepared by sophisticated real estate professionals with years of experience. At the same time, the students are clearly balanced in their education as they provided assessment of policies in place and use of cutting edge regulatory techniques in the scenarios.”

The student team members included Lauren AmesStephanie BallJimena CruzScott DunlopLauren FlemisterAndres GalindoZachary GibsonCorey Huston-LiterEdna LedesmaChris LeeAndrea LewisJessica KingJessica KolmerAlejandra ReyesKristine Stiphany, and Kate Vickery.

Excerpt from the UT School of Architecture e-news, September 6, 2012.

Access Creating Inclusive Cooridtors: Austin’s Airport Boulevard: Final Report here.

Access Creating Inclusive Cooridtors: Austin’s Airport Boulevard: Executive Summary here.

Access video of the October 5, 2012 panel presentation here.