Last February, OU Landscape Architecture (LA) and Regional + City Planning (RCPL) students worked with OSU LA students to host a community event in Perkins, Oklahoma. Students explored the city and engaged with residents to learn more about the small town and the design problems it faces.
On Thursday, February 16, the students gathered residents’ input regarding ways to improve the town. This event allowed them to gain a deeper understanding of the town’s vibrant culture and history as well as its infrastructure issues. The students found that many residents had issues with the roads, sidewalks, and community spaces throughout the town.
The following day, the students hosted a one-day charrette to discuss the issues they discovered during the gathering. The students worked diligently to create solutions that would improve the walkability and amenities within the city. The overall goal was to provide the citizens of Perkins with a complete booklet of designs that could be used for future grant applications and placemaking projects.
These changes would enhance Perkin’s current comprehensive plan, allowing locals and visitors to see the great potential the city holds. The team of OU and OSU students came up with 3 different design projects that would benefit the city of Perkins and address the primary issues at hand:
“Project A: Main Street Historic Block” addresses how they could preserve, enhance, and extend the character of Perkin’s Main Street Block. This important landmark has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. As the city continues to grow, it is important to expand the area while keeping it pedestrian friendly and connected with local transportation. To revitalize Main Street, the team suggests design ideas such as streetscapes, active transportation systems, and the restoration of vacant buildings.
“Project B: Active Transportation Plan: Roundabouts” addresses the hazardous state highway that runs directly between the local high school and many residential neighborhoods. The students determined that the most effective way to address this issue was to add roundabouts, which would slow the flow of traffic.
“Project C: Pocket Park” addresses residents’ concerns with the lack of community spaces in the area. A pocket park is a small outdoor space, usually within urban communities, that is surrounded by small residential homes and commercial buildings. This park would connect all the elements of the town together as well as unite the citizens of Perkins.
The community input event and charrette are part of a larger studio project that the students will continue to work on this semester. These events gave them the opportunity to test the limits of their classroom knowledge in a real-life setting. Although this collaborative effort was challenging, the team of OU and OSU students were able to provide the citizens of Perkins with innovative designs that will guide them as their city continues to evolve.