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College of Environment and Design

CED Students Support Innovative Teaching with Local Development

The Center for Innovative Teaching (CFIT) is in Winder, Georgia, 23 miles away from the UGA campus.  Its mission is to provide access to unique and flexible creative spaces to inspire and support innovations in teaching and learning.    

In 2019, Donnie Longenecker was contacted by the team of educators and citizens working on a master plan for the entire CFIT campus. They were interested in getting a group of Landscape Architecture students to develop concepts for a portion of the campus.    

Armed with a master plan produced by the multidisciplinary team of the Sustainable Design Collaborative of Atlanta (SDCA,) the Senior Capstone Studio (LAND 4900) generated 25 different master plan concepts for an area which was programmed for a playground, water feature, sport courts, and food trucks.  Elias Payne, former student, recounted on the programmatic elements such as the playground aiming “to provide an immersive experience in nature, allowing children to be creative in their play while learning about the environment they are in.”   

Master Plan for CFITAfter presentation and review by the CFIT team, a final concept was assembled from favorable parts from each of the 25 designs. Landscape Architecture Students then prepared illustrative drawings and three-dimensional Sketch Up models of the site to help “sell the dream” of what could exist at CFIT.  The students completed the project by working with various contractors and vendors to develop a preliminary development budget.   

Developers were able to use the students designs as a basis for their final designs of the site. Lee Bane, the director of innovative learning in the Barrow County School System, described the final design as “heavily influenced” by the student's space planning and playground design. The team was “extremely grateful” to work with the students and saw them as “huge catalysts” for bringing together designs that are “practical and holistic for the whole community.”  

The project is now coming to fruition as they plan on breaking ground in early April. This was made possible by the Building our Future campaign which has raised 3.3 million dollars in pledges to fund the project and will continue to fundraise until reaching their goal of 5 millon. 

View the final project report  from the senior capstone studio here.

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