College of Architecture and Planning Creates, Collaborates, and Cares

May 11, 2020

The College of Architecture and Planning is using lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to strengthen human habitat moving forward. Students, faculty, and staff in the college have risen to the occasion through a number of projects, from planning safer buildings to 3D printing PPE materials to creating powerful posters advocating for safety.

“As we experience this global health crisis, we are reminded that architecture, planning, and landscape architecture have always played a central role in supporting health and well-being,” said CAP’s Dean, Nan Ellin, PhD. “Buildings can make us feel better (or worse) through their design, ventilation, and sun exposure; the planning field was largely founded to address unhealthy urban conditions and continues to ensure more salubrious and sustainable cities and towns; and landscape also plays a central role in providing vibrant, beautiful, productive, safe, and healthy places.”

Today’s pandemic forces designers and planners to consider a new set of questions moving forward: “How might we now retrofit our public realm to maintain its vitality while also enabling safe physical distancing? How can we safely and efficiently grow and distribute fresh produce? How might we design hands-free doors and apply materials that are germ-resistant?” Ellin said.

The College of Architecture and Planning is committed to preparing the architects, planners, and landscape architects of tomorrow with the skills needed to adapt to a changing landscape. Read on to learn more about how the college is creatively responding to coronavirus.


#CAPHomework Competition

Working from home has been interesting, to say the least. To build community while physically apart, CAP students were asked to send a picture of their innovative workspaces. About 70 submissions came through, and winners were picked in the areas of creative, eco-friendly, photogenic, and “digistar.”

#CAPHomework Contest

The Winners …

  • Bryanna Urbina Lagos​, creative winner (top left)
  • Sylvia Pasquariello​, eco-friendly winner (top right)
  • Antonio Valencia, photogenic winner (bottom left)
  • Phoebe Loyd, digistar winner (bottom right)

CAP Raises Awareness Through Projects and Resources

In CAP’s Advanced Graphics course taught by instructor Louise Bordelon, landscape architecture students John Kohl and Karen Schultz designed posters to advocate for Colorado’s stay-at-home order.

Associate professor Osman Attman, PhD, led students in designing a safer building that inhibits the spread of infectious disease. They brainstormed innovative features such as foot-operated door openers, surface spaces that are safe for disinfection application, and UV lights with occupancy sensors.

Labs professional Paul Stockhoff and architecture lecturer Matthew Gines led the charge in producing headbands for face shields. Ten 3D printers in the hands of students and staff are being used to produce the materials.

“The College of Architecture and Planning has 3D printers dispersed to our student lab employees and full-time lab employees who are currently 3D printing parts for face shields,” Stockhoff said. “The face shields parts are then sent to a large group called Make4Covid, who helps with the distribution, design, and vetting process for designs and parts. It has been awesome for student employees to be able to work on this and contribute time and energy towards this effort.”


CAP’s Planning Dept. Shows it Cares Through Community Engagement

Students in assistant professor of urban planning Carrie Makarewicz’s class volunteered to help Denver Public Schools with public engagement meetings around the decision about the shuttered Rosedale Elementary School. Additionally, they worked with Arleen Taniwaki, who serves on the CAP Advisory Board, to help conduct a survey for the Registered Neighborhood Organizations (RNO).

Students also assisted on the Regional Approach to Homelessness report for DRCOG, which was started within a regional planning course last semester. 


Additional Learning Opportunities

The college is hosting a virtual lecture by visiting assistant professor Shruti Syal, PhD, called, “Pandemics: a macro-review of the connections crucial to urban sustainability.” Syal reviews planning decisions impacting and being impacted by novel diseases during disease emergence, local transmission, community transmission, outbreak, and in treatment and eradication stages. The goal is to provide a review of the connections between ecology, health, urban, and mobility institutions during these stages.

Associate Professor Andrew Rumbach, PhD, is teaching a summer course called “URPL 6800 Pandemic Recovery Planning.” The hands-on seminar will center on planning for long-term community and economic recovery after disasters, with an emphasis on the pandemic and its impact on small towns and rural communities. Through readings, lectures, case studies, and guest speakers, students will learn about planning for long-term disaster recovery, the impacts of disasters on local and economic systems such as housing and the economy, the unique needs and capabilities of small communities, and different, state-level approaches to the coronavirus recovery.