A concept to create a Sustainable North Park Main Street, which was developed in part by a group of NewSchool of Architecture and Design (NSAD) alumni, received an Orchid in the category of Planning Policies at the annual Orchids & Onions ceremony in San Diego.
The Orchids & Onions event, held Oct. 27, recognizes architecture and design projects as a way to stimulate community awareness and respond to San Diego's built environment. According to the jury committee: "The Jury was impressed with the thoroughness of this implementation plan, how all aspects were considered: political, architectural and social, as well as the synergy of the team, which was comprised of recent architecture graduates, established architects, landscape architects and planners."
For the project, NSAD architecture graduates, working with a group of North Park architect mentors, created sustainable designs for a "green" North Park business district. Sustainable North Park Main Street, an initiative of the North Park Main Street group, is a comprehensive community project involving building owners, business operators and the community members such as NSAD graduate Steve Russell and Alison Whitelaw from Platt/Whitelaw in San Diego.
Platt/Whitelaw recruited six NSAD students who graduated in 2010 to assist in the project's development: Yolanda Campbell, Alex Esquibel, Alex Rojas, Jillian Walker, Ryan Walker and Soeren Wegener. The graduates, along with their architect mentors, provided "hundreds of hours of pro bono effort" from August 2010 to May 2011 to produce the proposals, according to Russell. As a result of these contributions, a grant was obtained from the California Office of Historic Preservation to help pay some of the former students to develop a more formal report.
"We congratulate all the outstanding contributors to the ongoing Sustainable North Park Main Street Project, in particular the six recent NSAD architecture graduates who volunteered their time and expertise, along with Advisory Board Member Alison Whitelaw" said NSAD President Steve Altman. "Here at NSAD sustainability is imbedded throughout the curriculum and this award validates the many ways that our alumni are using these skills to make a positive impact in communities."
The North Park Main Street group is affiliated with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which promotes revitalization of historic commercial districts. The sustainability project would build on that concept by identifying community-based sustainable approaches to development and operations. For example, a sustainable Main Street would include building retrofits, businesses that are committed to reducing waste, or using energy conservation practices, said Russell.