Visual Communication & Design Thinking

A glimpse into the U-SOA through my eyes.

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    University of Miami students and faculty engage with the community

    Joachim Perez
    Mar 26, '15 2:31 PM EST

    The University of Miami School of Architecture has had a long standing tradition of community engagement.  Design studios have often revolved around a local focus or need in several of Miami’s impoverished neighborhoods such as Homestead, The West Grove, Allapattah, and Opa-Locka.  Although this engagement have been very successful, winning many grants and producing built work, it’s exposure has been limited to only a few singular courses.  This academic year, Dean Rodolphe el-Khoury and Professor Sonia Chao (Director of the Center for Urban & Community Design) decided to expand on this work by creating an event that would allow all students and faculty in the School of Architecture to participate. 

    The event is called UServe, where participants would dedicate a few hours from normal class time to providing community engagement and volunteer work.  The location for this event was in Miami’s famous Little Havana neighborhood, specifically East Little Havana.  This region has a culture of being home to people who have migrated here from Cuba, but has since attracted a wider spectrum of families from all over Central and South America.  It still remain predominately Hispanic, with single to multifamily buildings, and although it sits less than a stone’s throw away from one of the fastest and expensive neighborhoods in Miami (Brickell), East Little Havana is considered a low income area. 

    The School used Wednesday, March 25, as their inaugural UServe day employing ArcGis software on mobile phones in the visual documentation of buildings within the area.  Studio sections were each given a block and led by 1 faculty member.  Information recorded would relate to the type of building, it’s use, architectural style and features, types of construction, and any other significant details. Work began at 10am with a kickoff presentation that included the City Mayor and Planning Officials, and concluded at 5:30pm with a wrap up party at a recently restored lounge on historic Calle Ocho.​


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About this Blog

This blog gives a sneak peak into the architecture world at the University of Miami. What began as an experiment following one group of incoming graduate students through their first semester of design, has morphed into a window of the school of architecture through this professor's eyes. I will try to post as often as possible.

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