While the Springfield Studio is not being offered, Dr. Ceasar McDowell continues to work with the Northend community in Springfield. Students interested in this work should contact Professor Caesar McDowell directly.
Since 2001, HCED students and faculty have worked with community organizations in Springfield's North End neighborhood to address health, housing, economic development and urban design issues. The North End is a predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood just north of downtown Springfield, adjacent to Bay State Medical Center and divided by the I-91 highway. Despite its status as one of Massachusetts' poorest neighborhoods, the North End is a vibrant community with many civic and community-based organizations. It has been particularly innovation in addressing community health needs through the efforts of Brightwood Health Center and North End Outreach Network, and others. Under the leadership of Professor Ceasar McDowell, several DUSP faculty, scores of students and multiple practitioners have partnered with North End organizations to help frame and advance their community development agenda.
- Spring 2004: In this semester, the studio investigated urban design issues in the context of social and economic challenges within the community with the ultimate goal of integrating social, programmatic and physical development interventions to reinforce community revitalization efforts. The focal point was a design plan for a campus of community buildings in the North End developed in collaboration with a committee of local organizations.
- Fall 2005: This class was charged with charged with formulating an economic development plan for the North End. The course covered the areas of neighborhood economic development such as small business development, education and workforce training and real estate development along with analytical and planning tools used to understand and assess urban conditions from an economic and community development perspective. A major focus of the plan was the creation of a new economic development partnership for the neighborhood that could leverage funding and hire staff to implement economic development initiatives.
- Spring 2007: In this iteration, the Studio work with the New North Citizens Council (a locally elected political and social service agency of the neighborhood) to assess local housing conditions and prepare a strategy for the New North Citizens Council to address neighborhood housing needs.
- Spring 2008: The 2008 studio built on the work of the prior year which recommended the establishment of a new housing organization in light of the failure of the community CDC to provide for the neighborhood's housing needs. This new organization, the New North Housing Initiative (NNHI) was formed by the New North Citizens Council and the studio focused on helping to build the capacity of NNHI to function at the highest level in providing affordable housing development and community engagement. This included working with the newly formed board of NNHI to education them on affordable housing development options and to formulate a comprehensive approach to affordable housing development with active community involvement.