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New Creative Placemaking Minor to Prepare Students to Envision Public Spaces

By Maggie Haslam

The School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and the College of Arts and Humanities will debut a minor in creative placemaking this fall that will use art, culture and design to spark conversations about a community's future.

Students will employ techniques like mural design, storytelling, pop-up installations, public events and performance to advance a community’s vision and nurture vibrant, socially responsive and just places. The minor “embodies the vision” of the University of Maryland’s Arts for All initiative, which leverages the combined power of the arts, technology and social justice, Arts for All Director Patrick Warfield said.

Professor of Architecture Ronit Eisenbach will serve as the program’s director, while Assistant Professor of Art Brandon Donahue will lead the studio art concentration.

“This program will help students leverage and expand skills beyond their discipline to build on and strengthen the assets our local communities already have in meaningful ways,” Eisenbach said.

The minor will initially offer two concentrations—spatial design and visual arts—geared to undergraduates studying architecture and studio art, with plans to expand to students in programs such as performance art, art history, creative writing and landscape architecture. Students will work in the studio and in diverse, local communities—including those that stand to be impacted by the construction of Maryland’s Purple Line, like Riverdale, Takoma Park, Langley Park and Lakeland—to advance community goals, protect and celebrate identity and spur equitable economic development.

Donahue said he is excited for students to see how their skills contribute beyond the classroom.

“Art no longer stays neatly into the gallery, and architects don’t only design buildings,” he said. “We both see space for what is there, what is not there and what could be. Through public collaboration, artists and designers can act as civic and cultural leaders.”

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