EL 2030

Browse Exhibits (16 total)



What constitutes the perfect city?

Are the streets and sidewalks busy and energetic, or orderly and calm? Will you be guaranteed a place to park when driving into town, or will all of your destinations be within a manageable walking distance? What attractions and elements will entice both visitors and residents to stay? Who, and what, will you pass when walking down the sidewalk? Do restaurants, shops, and businesses offer a variety of activities and excitement?

The questions and elements to consider when designing the perfect city are limitless. Personal preferences based on numerous factors like age, occupation, preferences, needs, and interests also influence one's expectations of an urban utopia. As David Byrne adds in the Wall Street Journal, "the perfect city isn't static. It's evolving and ever changing, and its laws and structure allow that to happen."

The countless architects, landscape architects, and urban designers involved in the East Lansing 2030 | Collegeville Re-Envisioned (EL 2030) campaign hope to discover the right balance and combination of these elements in order to improve the East Lansing community for its residents, businesses, and the students of Michigan State University. Colin Mercer’s “Convergence, Creative Industries and Civil Society: Towards a New Agenda for Cultural Policy and Cultural Studies” suggests “culture is about citizen-formation, social exclusion and inclusion”. With an emphasis on employing “industrial techniques and the logic of material and spatial systems to efficiently produce unique experiential results”, PLY Architecture (PLY) hopes to redesign and reinvigorate the East Lansing community.

PLY suggests the transformation of the traditional urban market system by incorporating innovative architecture to create more dynamic and efficient urban centers of activity and interaction. PLY’s concept of an urban market will “blur the line between town and campus to create a community”.

The content found in this Omeka Exhibit presents PLY’s design philosophies, techniques, research, analysis, and samples of PLY’s previous projects.

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As part of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum EL 2030 project, several design firms have been chosen to redevelop East Lansing in a way that is more engaging for residents of the area. Among the few, is Bionic, a design firm from San Francisco, California. 

Bionic is a design firm dedicated in bringing life to various underutilized spaces in cities across the United States. Bionic was founded by Marcel Wilson as a branch off of Hargreaves Associates, which is where the majority of their experience lies. The company has completed solo tasks and collaborated with many landscape design firms. 

Throughout this exhibit plans for East Lansing's designs by Bionic can be found, as well as previous experience. 

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URBANLAB - Clustered Quad


UrbanLab is an architecture/design firm which focuses on both public and private communities. "UrbanLab strives to invent innovative, environmentally responsible design solutions and create spaces that establish healthy connections between people and their environments." Architect Martin Felsen and Designer Sarah Dunn work to reconfigure infrastructure toward renewable and sustainable use of community assets for "today and in the future".

"Clustered Quad at MSU is designed to accommodate several densely packed uses such as student housing, academic facilities, learning and leisure environments, shopping areas, and open spaces."

URBANLAB's design plan for East Lansing is that of a "clustered quad" area. Densely packed, mixed-use buildings provide a close sense of community and security. 

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DIGSAU imagines a program and development model that responds to the needs of the community and MSU. The project will explore how East Lansing’s horizontal layering of campus to neighborhood, public to private, dense to sparse, and institutional to commercial to residential can be transposed to a single vertically layered project that significantly increases the city’s vitality and gives clues for future development.

As a starting point, this mixed-use project will likely include residential, vehicular, recreational, educational, commercial, and retail programming. Key considerations will include how to create a more vibrant and diverse downtown and how the seasonal student population swings can actually provide opportunities.

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In this study we’re looking at the issues these types of towns are confronting: these are the issues of the cultures of the town, the energy issues, climate change that affects the town, issues of housing for residents and students, general metabolic processes in the towns. We’re then very excited to take that study back to our understanding of East Lansing…

- David Leven and Stella Betts, Principals, LEVENBETTS


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Min | Day


In my perfect city there are ample public spaces—parks (not just vacant land, but common areas that people pass through and use), plazas (not just slabs in front of corporate towers) and, if possible, public access to the waterfront (if there is one). We don't necessarily need massive acreage in our parks. Bigger is not always better, but we do need periodic breaks from buildings. Industry abandoned the waterfronts over previous decades, and as the docks and the industry that went with them moved elsewhere our cities have begun to reclaim these areas—river walks (look how many people use Manhattan's Hudson River paths!), lakefronts (the beautiful Minneapolis lakefront paths eventually lead all the way to the Mississippi!), beaches and seashores. In some seaside towns there is no public access to the sea, which to me seems a self-injuring situation. In my perfect city there would be public access to all these areas.

The perfect city isn't static. It's evolving and ever changing, and its laws and structure allow that to happen. Neighborhoods change, clubs close and others open, yuppies move in and move out—as long as there is a mix of some sort, then business districts and neighborhoods stay healthy even if they're not what they once were. My perfect city isn't fixed, it doesn't actually exist, and I like it that way.

-David Byrne

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Stoss is one of eight firms being represented in the EL 2030 Collegeville Re-Envisioned project. Stoss emphasizes nature, water, carbon and sensibility as major themes in their projects. Stoss aims to enhance East Lansing's existing waterways and sequester carbon emissions through carbon nests. 

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WXY believes in "Art as an Activator"

The work of WXY would contribute to the overall feeling of community in East Lansing, using art as a way to bring people together and foster relationships that will in turn help draw new citizens to the area.

In addition, the use of art, and through creating public friendly spaces, WXY would help to connect both on campus spaces and East Lansing residential areas, ideally bringing together members of East Lansing and Michigan State University.

Further, WXY would help develop the identity of East Lansing, and in doing so would draw people into the city to help it create a sustainable, vibrant, and active area.

WXY plans to do this through the creation of a 'loop' system, where a loop of walking area would be developed to help encourage a friendly public space, thus creating a connected community between East Lansing residents and MSU students. WXY plans to implement two different locations of bridges, focusing on busy areas of campus and off campus spaces, connecting the pre-existing spaces of Grand River Ave., Michigan Ave., and the Red Cedar River Trail.

WXY's use of art in urban furniture systems displays the firm's innovative ways of creating friendly public spaces. In addition, the firm has some experience working in cities, as seen through their work on the Brooklyn Streetscape.


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Arts & Activities


Arts and Activities are any sort of entertainment that happens in East Lansing. This could be street art, the Broad Museum, an evening in a park, or a show at the Wharton. 


Parking & Transportation

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This exhibit shows the different firm ideas for how to improve parking or transportation methods in East Lansing. This includes sidewalks, streets, bike parking, and parking structures.