Faculty in the Public Engagement and Placemaking specialization conduct studies on the role of urban design, public art and citizen participation in the enhancement of a sense of community. Representative activities include designing to create, sustainable and more appealing neighborhoods, understanding and analyzing how citizens and their local school systems can work to stabilize, understand and enhance their neighborhoods and the role of public processes, public art, and public interest design in the planning for a community’s future. Students and faculty in this specialization come from the fields of architecture, urban planning, sociology, and art.
Built Environment and the Experience of Place
Architecture Professor Ronit Eisenbach employs design to generate discourse about the built environment. Through a practice that includes teaching, curating, exhibition design and the construction of temporary site-specific environments, she explores how the perception of subjective, invisible and ephemeral objects affects understanding and experience of place. An interest in thinking through making and refining perception has led her to develop a series of situation-based, design-build studios that frame elements of architecture such as light, color, space and shadow in conversation with human movement. At the University of Maryland she chairs the Kibel Gallery, and in 2009 Eisenbach published a book titled Installations by Architects: Experiments in Building and Design(Princeton Architectural Press), co-authored with Dr. Sarah Bonnemaison.
Engaging Working Class Immigrant Neighborhoods in Suburban Maryland
Planning Professor William Hanna is a strong believer in the learning power of active involvement in planning, combining university education, scholarly research, and community activism. Much of his work focuses on the majority- immigrant neighborhood of Langley Park, MD located immediately West of College Park. Hanna serves as the director of Action Langley Park, a nonprofit organization of residents, businesspeople, workers, social service personnel, and other members of the community. The group co- sponsors health and other community events, publishes the biweekly Barrio de Langley Park newsletter, and advocates for positive public sector action pertaining to immigrant welfare. Hanna is currently completing a book-length report on the marginalization of working class immigrant neighborhoods.
Engaging Community Through Public Art and Design
Using public art and design, the University of Maryland art and architecture students have engaged in a dialogue with the Long Branch community about their neighborhood. Under guidance of Architecture Professor Ronit Eisenbach and Department of Art Professor John Ruppert, ten temporary site-specific sculptures will be on display at the Long Branch Library and along Flower Avenue from May 6-20, 2013.