Engaging Students in Collaborative Design

We will be hosting RDG’s 5th Annual Design Residency program at our 301 Grand Office Wednesday November 3rd through Friday November 6th. Our Design Residency was born out of an interest of design practitioners, within a multi-disciplinary design firm, to give back to contribute to their community by offering college students a unique opportunity to solve real-world design challenges through a process focused on collaboration.

In addition to the “usual suspects” (architects, landscape architects, engineers and planners), the Design Residency brings in a student team that may include cultural geographers, sculptors, writers, psychologists or public health experts. Past residencies produced a video that launched the Governor’s Green Ribbon Commission, engineered a new approach to assessing a project’s impact on public health (the “Engage” tool), and developed a visionary master plan for Riley Resources Groups’ new headquarters in Pleasant Hill, Iowa.

Over the last 5 years we’ve engaged more than 40 students from a variety of colleges and universities across the country in this program, As one alum put it: “This was a turning point in my life.” To hear what others have to say watch our Video.

This year’s Design Residency, “Urban Alchemy,” will build from the work of past residencies to develop vision, strategies and projects that might transform cities. The residents—along with experienced practitioners, thoughtful civic leaders, development interests, and others—will collaborate to imagine meaningful outcomes for the Iowa Convention and Entertainment Reinvestment District and adjacent areas. Wednesday will orient the students with the design challenge and engage them in a large group panel discussion, Thursday students will work with community leaders and designers, and Friday they will present their thoughts and solutions to the public.

 This year we’ll take on the tough questions of:

– How do we create downtown districts that are vibrant, healthy, and resilient?

– What are the catalysts for change in an urban environment?


We will explore these important questions, and more by developing concepts for a downtown reinvestment district in Des Moines, envisioning an urban environment focused on placemaking, public health and climate resilience.

More information will be shared here: DesignResidency

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