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Making Local Impact

Master of Urban Planning (MUP) Studios – Livable City Year, Bellevue

A group of UW Master of Urban Planning (MUP) students took their skills and knowledge from the classroom into the local community as part of the 2018-19 Livable City Year (LCY) program.

Students worked directly with stakeholders from the partnering city of Bellevue, WA over the course of two studios taught by Urban Design and Planning Professor Branden Born. These studios focused on researching and developing designs for Bellevue’s new Civic Center.

The project

As the future gateway to Bellevue, this project presented an opportunity to enhance Bellevue’s civic identity and create a vibrant downtown. The Bellevue Civic Center will include the Downtown Link Light Rail Station, important civic and cultural buildings, a proposed lid over I-405 to provide better neighborhood cohesion, as well as new park, pedestrian, bicycle, and recreational connections to other sites within the surrounding urban context.

Students collaborated to identify design goals for the site. These included improving connectivity, addressing challenging topography, adding affordable residential and commercial uses, and introducing human scale design and civic functions.

The resulting research and evaluations fueled the creation of three final designs, each structured around one unique principle:

  • “intimacy” – characterized by green infrastructure, rooms, and local residents. Focus on using site topography as an advantage for green space and community gathering.
  • “civic home” – characterized by space fluidity, vertical recreation, and affordable opportunities. Focus on maximizing residential units next to the future light rail.
  • “cultural center” – characterized by civic identity, local economy, culture, and diversity. Focus on art and affordable retail spaces as key aspects for a vibrant, culturally engaging civic space.

The results

Students presented final designs to the stakeholders at the end of spring quarter. This project was also added to the extensive catalogue of research, findings, and recommendations from all thirty Livable City Year Bellevue projects. Over 250 UW students contributed to this catalogue, bringing perspectives from a variety of schools and colleges within UW.

This massive collaborative undertaking resulted in the generation of innovative ideas and new solutions. It also received an award, with the City of Bellevue being named Outstanding Community Partner by a national group of universities.

Once design ideas had been developed, each studio team began to develop a draft plan to show to stakeholders. LCY STUDENT TEAM


> To learn more about the Master of Urban Planning (MUP) program, visit the website here.

> To learn more about the Livable City Year (LCY) program, visit the LCY website.