Students for Design Activism

Community Design Charrette – CW Lofts

SDA members and architecture students Caitlin Dippo and Katrina Matejcik co-authored this post.

Sunday evening, Students for Design Activism met at CW Lofts, a creative community in Northeast Minneapolis, to host a charette. We brainstormed ways to redesign “Outlot B” and other open areas around the lofts.


SDA was presented with this opportunity after Dan Stark, a member of SDA, was hit by a car while riding a bicycle near Stinson and Broadway in NE. The good samaritan stopped to help him just so happened to be involved at CW Lofts and, upon hearing his involvement with our organization, requested to partner with SDA to help redesign their outdoor space.


We took a big step towards the redesign of the space when we hosted a design charette with the residents and some of our own members. It was exciting to learn from the residents some of the history and current uses of the land. We were all interested to hear that railroad tracks used to run through the space and liked the idea of somehow alluding to that in the design. We hope to dig even deeper into the history of the building and incorporate old machinery or part of the building into the design. The residents came up with many great ways to improve the space that included such things as making the dog run more inviting, increasing the number of raised garden beds, and making the space more accessible to the rest of the Northeast Community. Together, we all came up with some great ideas and are excited to go back to CW Lofts for a second brainstorming session soon.


Northern Spark! 2013

It may be frigid outside, but summer is fast approaching! Summer in the Twin Cities means a festival of some sort every weekend. Students for Design Activism is thrilled to announce participation in one of the more exciting of these summer festivals: Northern Spark!
Northern Spark Logo
Northern Spark is (from their website) “a roving, collaborative, interactive media-oriented arts agency from the Twin Cities for the world. It presents innovative art in the public sphere, both physical and virtual, focusing on artists creatively using technology, both old and new, to engender new relations between audience and artwork and more broadly between citizenry and their built environment.

Northern Spark is a “nuit blanche” (new-ee blonch); an all night arts festival. This year it runs from 8:58pm on June 8th until 5:00am on June 9th. It will take place in Lowertown, Saint Paul.

SDA will be constructing an interactive light and sound installation that will guide visitors to the river, illuminating how our built environment is intracately connected to the ecological flow of the Mississippi.

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We’ll post more updates and ways to get involved soon!


Prairie Oaks Institute Campus Project

Last semester, Students for Design Activism partnered with Prairie Oaks Institute, a rural retreat center focused on ecology & sustainability, retreat & renewal and education & leadership development.

SDA Co-Chair Solange Guillaume is collaborating with a team of SDA members to help POI develop a new design for their campus. The new design will enhance both pedestrian and vehicle circulation through the site while celebrating its natural setting and cultural history.


Lifeworks Sensory Garden

LWPlanFINALRev1SmallCross-posted from Humphrey School News, November/December.

Students for Design Activism member and 2012-2013 Co-Chair Michael Richardson, along with with three other College of Design students Coal Dorius, Elizabeth Hixson and Stefano Ascari, collaborated this past fall with Lifeworks, a nonprofit organization serving people with disabilities, to design a sensory garden at Lifeworks’ new Apple Valley location.

The intent of the project was to provide a space that encourages interaction, appreciation, and awareness of both natural and man-made materials. The design features a musical fence, an accessible water feature, and plantings that engage the senses. Construction was completed last fall.

Although this was not an official SDA project, Mike is an avid member of SDA and we are all excited to see it happen!

Watershed Film Screening – Next Spring


Students for Design Activism is pleased to announce that we will be hosting a screening of the film Watershed next April. This event will be in partnership with theDepartment of Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota, and will feature a panel of professionals dealing with watershed issues in the Midwest. We also plan to showcase some student work that relates to water.

More details to come over the summer.