West Ashley neighborhood getting makeover thanks to city, Clemson

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A West Ashley neighborhood is seeing the positive impacts of a partnership between the City of Charleston and Clemson University.

Clemson’s CommunityBUILD program brings a handful of architecture and landscape students to the Lowcountry to beautify selected neighborhoods.

The program allows students to design and build community areas like parks, gardens, or structures in one semester. The first few months are spent using teamwork to design and come up with a blueprint for the project the group selects. Then, neighborhood leaders and citizens are consulted. Once the project is approved by the city’s parks and recreation department, students get to work building and making their vision come to life.

During the Spring 2021 semester, students created a shade/picnic structure that also acts as a bridge connecting the Ardmore neighborhood to the West Ashley Bikeway. The project was started in January and completed in May.

“For our students to get a chance to represent the university and also get some hands-on experience, not just in construction, but also in working within a community is invaluable to their education,” said David Pastre, the Director of the CommunityBUILD Program.

It’s a win-win situation. Students get hands-on experience, meet contacts for future jobs, and learn what it’s like to work as an architect. The chosen community reaps the benefits of new parks and a beautified area. The city get’s more projects completed for cheaper due to low labor costs.

The partnership was established 10 years ago. In that time, several projects have been completed.

The Ardmore neighborhood was selected for this year’s projects after a need was identified through the city’s recent Master Parks Plan. Community feedback was taken into account.

The shade structure was phase one of the Ardmore community project and phase 2 is already underway as a new group of students just jumped into the new semester. The design process is in the works and the team hopes to break ground on their chosen blueprint by November.

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