Highlights from CRP Studios
Planning and design studios are fundamental for the CRP department mission and both the undergraduate and graduate curriculae. As the best vehicle for Cal Poly's learn-by-doing pedagogy, the studio experience allows students to engage in quasi-real projects and work with real cities and their officials, stakeholders and communities, helping them to become better prepared for professional life.
Undergraduate (Sophomore Year): CRP 202 Urban Design Studio I (Winter 2020).
Instructors: Amir Hajrasouliha and Beate von Bischopinck.
Mixed-Use Development in San Luis Obispo, CA.
The objective of this studio was to design a mixed-project on a site at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Chorro Street. They were introduced to the city's approval process for a new student housing project across the street by the developer and the construction manager, studied the city zoning and land-use regulations, conducted a site analysis, collected information from stakeholders, and conducted case studies of similar mixed-use projects in California and elsewhere. Organized in small teams, the students came up their own use full development programs and design proposals that were required to respond to existing conditions and be well integrated to the urban fabric. Through the project, the class was introduced to the full scope of the urban design process; explored methods, elements and principles of good design, and continued to develop their graphic skills in AutoCAD, SketchUp, and Adobe Suite.
Undergraduate (Sophomore Year): CRP 203 Urban Design Studio II (Spring 2020). Instructors: Vicente del Rio and Beate von Bischopinck.
Redevelopment of Two Blocks in San Luis Obispo, CA.
Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, this studio was totally conducted online. Student teams were asked for redevelopment projects of a 3.7-acre area defined by Higuera, Pacific, Archer, and Pismo Streets in San Luis Obispo, in compliance with the Downtown Concept Plan, the Mid Higuera Enhancement Plan, and parking requirements. After a thorough study of existing documents, the class conducted a site and context analysis (Google Earth, Streetview, and city maps), analyzed similar redevelopments based on the 8 principles from SLO’s Downtown Concept Plan, and delivered their projects through a Powerpoint, a poster, and a professional-level report. Projects responded to the city's vision, local needs and economic opportunities, through sustainable, walkable, and culturally appropriate solutions.
Undergraduate (Junior Year): CRP 341 Urban Design Studio III (Spring 2020). Instructors Vicente del Rio and Hemalata Dandekar. Client: County of Santa Clara Planning Department.
Urban Design Visions for San Martin, CA.
Responding to a request from the County of Santa Clara Planning Department, this studio developed long-range urban design visions for the core of San Martin, a small rural community of 7,000 residents. The pressure for new suburban-type housing due to the proximity to the cities of Morgan Hill and Gilroy is great and expected to increase with the arrival of high-speed train and better commuting services to the Bay Area, as well as with new economic opportunities including agricultural tourism and healthy food systems. The ten student teams developed eight urban design proposals for four distinct areas for the San Martin core and two proposals for circulation/wayfinding guidelines for the entire core. The County of Santa Clara will use the final posters, Powerpoints, fly-throughs, and unified report to help initiate a discussion with the community about possible futures. Due to the limitation imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, this project was fully developed online.
Undergraduate (Senior Year): CRP 410/411 Community Planning Lab (Fall 2019 & Winter 2020). Instructor Kelly Main. Client: City of Santa Fe Springs.
Health Element Update, City of Santa Fe Strings General Plan.
This studio was retained by Santa Fe Springs, a city of approximately 18,000 in southeastern Los Angeles County, to create a Health Element for their General Plan. The work process started in the Fall Quarter with an intense investigation of local conditions and community needs, and lead to the development of the element itself in the Winter Quarter.
To ensure the participation of a wide diversity of community members, the class undertook an extensive engagement process which included information and participatory booths at community-wide events and venues, such as the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration and the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet. Children and young adults were particularly important for the outreach efforts.
A focus group was held with the City’s Youth Advisory Commit-tee, a survey was carried out at the Santa Fe High School, and participatory activities were held with first through sixth-grad-ers at the local Boys and Girls Club where the Place It! participatory method (created by James Rojas) was used. Through this method, participants used colorful recycled and random objects to draw and built their ideal park while the Cal Poly students interviewed them. Understanding the what, the why, and the ideal allowed the class to develop realistic suggestions for the City’s existing parks.
This lab's engagement process helped the class produce a Health Element tailored to Santa Fe Springs’ needs. Equally important, our students were exposed to a variety of participatory activities, carried out with a great diversity of community members, preparing them to better design and execute outreach efforts in the diverse communities they will serve.
Graduate (First Year): CRP 553 Project Planning Lab (Spring 2020). Instructor: Hemalata Dandekar. Client: County of Santa Clara Planning Department.
Strategic Development Plan for San Martin, CA.
This plan covers 11.6 square miles around the village of San Martin in unincorporated Santa Clara County. Contributing to the county’s long-range planning efforts for the Santa Clara Valley region and the San Martin community, the plan proposes an integrated and cohesive physical, cultural, and socio-economic transformation supportive of local community needs and existing small-scale farming operations; expands niche agriculture, organic farming, and ecology-based tourism; and enhances rural character by design.
The plan includes strategies for: a) Enhancing rural character and a sense of place by updating existing design guidelines and developing a street-hierarchy system to improve connectivity enhance, safety, encourage multimodal use, and reinforce the rural aesthetic; b) Preserving agriculture by promoting a vibrant agricultural economy and preventing the conversion of high-quality agricultural land to non-agriculture uses; c) Initiating agritourism activity with a Farmers Toolkit and A Marketing Plan which promotes San Martin as an agritourism hub; and d) Development Zones and Transect Plans are delineated as land use guiding strategies to facilitate preserving the rural character and agriculture in San Martin and increasing agritourism.
Graduate (Second Year): CRP 552/554 City and Regional Planning Lab (Fall 2019 & Winter 2020). Instructor Cornelius Nuworsoo. Client: City of McFarland.
City of McFarland General Plan Update.
This studio engaged sixteen graduate students in preparing a comprehensive revision and updating of the City of McFarland's General Plan, originally prepared in 1991. Through a process involving residents and stakeholders, the class formulated a development scenario to accommodate aspirations for growth in population, housing, and jobs by 2040.
Located in Kern County, California’s Central Valley, approximately 5 miles north of Bakersfield, the city covers approximately three square-miles of land consisting of mostly residential, institutional, and agricultural uses. Its Sphere of Influence and the surrounding area are primarily agricultural. California's Highway 99 runs right through the city as the major north-south route. McFarland's population of 13,930 residents (2017) is predominantly Hispanic or Latino (96 percent) with a median household income well below the County and State's median incomes thus qualifying it as a disadvantaged community and triggering the State requirement to add an Environmental Justice Element to the General Plan update.
Comprehensive research on community characteristics, a thorough analysis of opportunities and constraints for development as well as public feedback guided the studio work. The new General Plan includes detailed long-term goals, objectives, polices, and programs to inform future development on fourteen Elements: Land Use; Circulation; Conservation; Housing; Environmental Justice; Economic Development; Public Facilities; Safety; Health; Open Space; Noise; Community Design; Air Quality; and Sustainable Agriculture. The new General Plan can lead McFarland to improve residents' quality of life, provide diverse housing options, generate economic vitality, and enhance its attractability as a strategic stop for travelers along Highway 99.
From the three distinct growth scenarios presented by the class to the City, the preferred alternative includes a variety of changes to land use in designated growth areas to accommodate infill development for housing and commercial growth; redeveloping downtown for mixed-use (see Figure); and targeting highway commercial and industrial uses along Highway 99 within an expansion area of its sphere of influence toward the south of City limits.
Undergraduate: CRP 202 Urban Design Studio I (Winter 2019).
Instructors: Amir Hajrasouliha and Beate von Bischopinck.
An Urban Design for Collaboration and Innovation at Cal Poly.
The two sections of this studio collaborated in designing the core of Cal Poly campus according to the university long term plan. Students proposed new academic and service buildings with restaurants and coffee shops, and an innovation center at the heart of Cal Poly campus. The common goals of the proposals included encouraging interaction between students of various disciplines and faculty members of the Cal Poly community, creating a walkable and vital campus throughout the day and year, and encouraging outdoor learning and social activities with the help of green roofs, and various types of plazas and open spaces.
Undergraduate: CRP 203 Urban Design Studio II (Spring 2019). Instructors: Vicente del Rio and Beate von Bischopinck.
Gateway Site Development in Paso Robles, CA.
Both sessions in this studio got involved in contributing to the City of Paso Robles Community Development Department by envisioning development alternatives for an 8-acres site located at the corner of Spring and Fourth streets. Currently, the site is a partially occupied low-income apartment complex scheduled for redevelopment in the near future. Based on the site's excellent location and easy access to the downtown, Highway 101 and the Salinas River, the student teams presented several alternatives which included ideas for mixed-use development, affordable apartments, high-density town-homes, and public open spaces.
Undergraduate: CRP 341 Urban Design Studio III (Spring 2018). Instructors Vicente del Rio and Hemalata Dandekar. Client: City of Glendora Planning Department.
Rethinking Downtown Glendora, CA
This third-year undergraduate studio contributed to the City of Glendora long-range planning efforts by developing an urban design vision to strengthen the linkage between the Old Village, the future Metro’s Gold Line Light-Rail Station, and Route 66. Although the project area is located in the heart of Glendora, but holds a hodgepodge of underutilized land, commercial and office uses, warehouses, small industries, as well as town homes and single-family residences. It is expected that, when the Metro line and the station are ready they will cause significant impacts on the project area. Divided into nine teams, the students developed different alternative plans, with medium and long scenarios, for public and private development as well as circulation and streetscape concepts. The proposals were present to the planning commission and the city council, and are helping the planning department to educate developers on the possibilities and to help direct public investments.
Graduate: CRP 553 Project Planning Lab (Spring 2019). Instructor: Hemalata Dandekar. Client: City of Paso Robles Community Development Department.
Redevelopment Visions for the Paso Robles Boy’s School Site.
The task addressed by students in the first year MCRP design studio was to envision "outside the box" creative redevelopment alternatives for the Paso Robles Boys School site. Located on the edge of the city the 155-acres site fronts Airport Road, is close to Paso Robles Municipal Airport, and, until 2009 housed a State youth correctional facility. Advanced manufacturing, wineries, and recreational and service facilities surrounded the site for which four options were developed: 1) VinoTech: a vibrant and flexible office and industrial park, a connected pedestrian-active complex designed to capitalize on the beautiful rural environment; 2) Adaptive Reuse Park: using the existing mid-century modern structures for new industrial and commercial development, such as cannabis manufacturing, mixed office, and light industrial; 3) Soccer Complex: a regional/state destination-soccer-facility with 20 full-size 5 youth-size soccer fields, food services and a climbing wall; 4) Gateway Conference Center: a center that also includes a performing arts center, a wine museum, a hotel, and retail and office facilities.
Undergraduate: CRP 410/411 Community Planning Lab (Fall 2018 & Winter 2019). Instructor Keith Woodcock. Client: City of Parlier.
City of Parlier General Plan Update.
The studio’s client for Fall Quarter 2018 and Winter Quarter 2019 was the City of Parlier, population 14,500. Located in the Central Valley approximately 20 miles southeast of the City of Fresno, the City is primarily supported by the surrounding agricultural operations. The City has high aspirations yet is severely financially constrained.
The City’s General Plan Elements have not been updated for a considerable number of years. One of the challenges faced by the students was developing policies and implementation measures that recognized the City’s limited resources yet advanced the vision expressed by the residents and Council. Four community outreach activities were held including meeting with the students at Parlier High School. The students also held a working session with Department Heads and Council members.
In March of 2019, the students presented their recommendations to the City Council, who were very appreciative of their work.
Graduate: CRP 552/554 City and Regional Planning Lab (Fall 2018 & Winter 2019). Instructor Cornelius Nuwursoo. Client: Oceano Community.
Oceano Community Plan Update.
This pro bono studio included 20 graduate students who prepared a comprehensive revision of Oceano’s Community Plan. Oceano is a small coastal non-incorporated community in San Luis Obispo County located about 13 miles south of the City of San Luis Obispo. Surrounded by fertile agricultural lands, Oceano has a small local airport and 1,500 acres of its coastal sand dunes is dedicated to the only state park where visitors can drive recreational vehicles in. Its 8,262 residents (2016 U.S. Census) share a median household income of $52,259, well below the County’s and California’s state median.
The studio collaborated with the county and Oceano residents and stakeholders in formulating the plan and a development scenario to accommodate aspirations for growth in population, housing, and jobs by 2040. The plan allows Oceano to improve its residents’ quality of life, provide diverse housing options, generate economic vitality, and enhance its attraction as a coastal community with tourist potential and one of the relatively more affordable places to live in the county. The work was so well received that garnered coverage on KSBY, a local television station affiliated to NBC.
The work involved a thorough analysis and comprehensive update of the existing Community Plan guided by extensive research on community characteristics, opportunities and constraints for development, as well as by public feedback. The plan includes detailed long-term goals, objectives, polices, and programs to inform future development, in thirteen Elements: Land Use; Circulation; Conservation; Housing; Environmental Justice; Economic Development; Public Facilities; Safety; Health; Open Space; Noise; Community Design; and Air Quality. Three distinct alternative growth scenarios were presented to the community who preferred the scenario that includes a variety of changes to land use in designated growth areas to accommodate infill development for housing and commercial growth; repurposing of a sparsely-used airport area into vibrant, mixed-use, and regional open space; and redevelopment of the Industrial neighborhood.