In the fall of 2013, the CPID was approached by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) to begin the process of exploring how public interest design can be used to address the needs of some of Sacramento’s most disinvested neighborhoods. This collaboration began at an exciting time, as California recently passed the America’s first Cap and Trade legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with a significant portion of the funds raised allocated for reinvestment in communities which have been environmentally impacted and have a history of divestment. Following an intensive period of research, stakeholder meetings, and site visits, the team identified two ideal community partners in the neighborhoods of Del Paso Heights and South Sacramento. CPID faculty, Todd Ferry, Sergio Palleroni, and BD Wortham-Galvin developed a series of strategies for engaging the community and approaching the issues that emerged as being most crucial. These strategies were brought into studios at PSU’s School of Architecture where students had the opportunity travel to Sacramento and meet with community leaders, government officials, and project stakeholders before beginning the process of proposing design responses ranging from recreation centers and business incubators, to street improvements and systems of occupying vacant lots with pop-up shops. SACOG has strategically chosen to move forward with investing in a series of proposed bus stops that also provide amenities chosen by the community.
After 18 months of research, community engagement, and design speculations of the new visions for the neighborhoods, the concept of a bus stop that can double as a community center emerged as the idea that received the most excitement from our partners. Building on student-driven visions for how a bus-stop-as-community-center might look and function, four concepts were developed to explore opportunities for using the interventions to build neighborhood identity, create flexible space that can accommodate a range of uses and needs, and allow for community participation in the final design and construction of these structures. The bus stops represented here explore how the investment in much-needed bus stops can be leveraged to also provide community amenities like spaces for small-business vendors, safe gathering areas, hydration stations, and information about local services, all while improving the public transportation experience to encourage more “choice ridership” among the community.
The speculations here were created along with a comprehensive transit manual to make the process of creating bus and light rail easy for communities to take on with the help of local designers. The CPID and SACOG are working to create the first of a series of these bus stops in the coming months in Del Paso Heights. James McGrath at CH2M Hill generously provided important consultancy in the creation of this manual.
SACOG is in the process of securing funding for strategically located bus stops, which will be designed and built based on community output and participation. The bus stop designs represent one initiative among a series of projects that the CPID is pursuing in Sacramento that will benefit from the carbon credit reinvestments and other local funding. The CPID has also been developing a web-based tool in conjunction with the Madrid-based design firm Ecosistema Urbano, which will allow communities to advocate for the improvements they wish to see in their neighborhoods, while accumulating the data and collective voice needed to make substantial change. Additionally, the CPID will be helping to design the plan for the development of a transformative sports and community center in Del Paso Heights, as well as improvements to a new facility housing centralized social services in South Sacramento.