Geodesign at CC

Geodesign Workshop The Urban – Mountain Interface in Colorado Springs

The Colorado College Geology Department and Monument Creek Project offered a workshop in Geodesign on May 10-11, 2019. It examined the Colorado Springs urban – mountain interface. Current trends in population and land use present both challenges and opportunities for housing, transportation, water availability and quality, and human health and well being. Workshop participants included 20 students in the Geodesign course at CC and 9 members of the Colorado Springs community who represent varied educational backgrounds and community perspectives. For the workshop, we prepared and povided Evaluation Models that span a 30-km-square areas of the urban-mountain interface, from Colorado Springs’ historic downtown toward the West. Systems used for classification included Energy, Housing (low density, medium density/mixed, and high density), Transportation (conventional and active), Green Infrastructure, and Blue Infrastructure, among others, together with supplementary demographic and geographic spatial data.

Rapid change to Colorado Springs is happening as a result of urban renewal and residential infilling, downtown; major construction that is part of the City for Champions plan (C4C); and creek restoration/stormwater remediation efforts such as the Legacy Loop. What will be the consequences for Fountain Creek and Monument Creek, and their tributaries?  Can stormwater issues be addressed by restoring riparian zones in the creeks?  Do City parks and open spaces need to be improved or enhanced?  What actions will help to achieve City and County priorities, and encourage partnerships ?

Geodesign is an approach that addresses spatial challenges that arise in built and natural environments, using  GIS and  relevant scientific/geographic data in an open, integrated process (for more, see links at bottom of this page).  It offers a collaborative approach to city planning and urban environmentalism using geospatial data and online tools that facilitate access to geographic and scientific information, providing the means for community members with diverse viewpoints and incentives to evaluate future trends and find common ground for planning and decision making.

Community participation and engagement of stakeholdersthrough hands-on workshops, is fundamental to Geodesign. Our Geodesign workshop for the CC and Colorado Springs community is developed jointly with international colleague Hrishi Ballal, of GeodesignHub, who participated via videostream to CC.  The May 2019 workshop was limited to 35 invited participants and used Visualization Lab facilities in Tutt Library at Colorado College. 

Working in small teams, participants drew upon their own experiences/training and expertise provided by team mates, to determine whether each system is in an optimal state, and so should be maintained. If unsatisfactory, the teams  developed a rationale for constructive change that can improve the City or College situation in respect to each system.  For the culminating step of Design, team members and then the entire workshop group negotiated to reach a consensus about what elements to change. In the time available for this short workshop, two prospective plans were achieved that highlight challenges and opportunity areas, with further negotiation needed over the coming months using Geodesignhub analysis tools.  The plans suggest how to enact change, system by system, but also holistically, within the spatial bounds of the study region [the  urban/mountain interface ].  Once completed, the community-created, community- approved framework will provide a  ‘geo-design’ that may be used to advocate for change/restoration of feasible sectors of Colorado Springs, the CC campus and adjacent urban areas.  The experience and skills gained from the workshop contributes to participants’ qualifications for internships, further academic training, and future careers.

The 2018-19 CC Geodesign team consists of nine members who established CC as a member-institution in the International Geodesign Collaboration, formed in 2018.  CC’s is the only liberal arts program invited to join the IGC group of 118 academic institutions, worldwide.

First Workshop (October 2018)

The inaugural Geodesign Workshop at Colorado College, on October 22 to 24, 2018,  explored aesthetic, environmental, and infrastructure aspects of the Colorado College campus (including conventional and alternative energy, transportation, and green infrastructure), and the campus relationship to our local waterway, Monument Creek.  It  brought together members of the CC and Colorado Springs communities who bring varied ideas, imagination, expertise and priorities for designs suited to the 21st century urban setting  of the campus and city center.  The workshop used our Evaluation Models for the area of the CC campus and Monument Creek, between Uintah Ave. and Mesa Ave., that were a product of creek research  carried out in the Summer, 2018. [ See Geodesign at Colorado College blogposts. ]

Group photo, taken at celebratory conclusion of Workshop. The “Wizard of Oz”-scale face is our inspiring leader, Hrishi Ballal! thank you, Hrishi.

“Workshop Themes for 2018 Workshop.    Photo gallery : 2018 Workshop

 The workshops provide an orientation to Geodesign and create an awareness of the ‘status quo’ for the CC campus, in terms of the way it functions within the urban landscape / physical-geological-hydrological surface environment.

Within the area, residential infilling in the condition of the CC campus within Colorado Springs city,  using  “Evaluation Models” and maps of Colorado College for analysis.

Next workshop, Who/Where/When:      Summer research and evaluation will commence in June 2019, and a community workshop with themes determined on the basis of Colorado Springs community input likely will be arranged in October 2019.  Those interested to participate should contact csiddoway@coloradocollege.edu.

Links to many on-line resources follow.

Colorado College Campus Master Plan

Monument Creek Planning documents:

City of Colorado Springs urban planning documents

Pikes Peak Region

Geodesign Resources: