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CO-OP Architecture's unique summer program designs a winning concept

Overseen by CO-OP Architecture, ‘Friends & Citizens’ is a summer-long design studio dedicated to combining the academic and professional world of architecture for interns in any level of education.

Can you tell us a little about yourself. Your company, team, work, mission, etc.

CO-OP Architecture is a South Dakota based design and planning firm dedicated to beauty, economy, and craft.

‘Friends & Citizens’ is a summer-long design studio dedicated to combining the academic and professional world of architecture for interns in any level of education. CO-OP Architecture oversees the students, offering them the tools and guidance required to complete a comprehensive design project. Students collaborate with various entities, including local governments, organizations, and consultants.

The mission of ‘Friends & Citizens’ is to have professionals collaborate with students to develop design skills while participating in public policy discussions, developing smart land-use and urban planning strategies, considering sustainability, and most importantly; building vibrant communities. In short, the program wants to improve our neighborhoods and our world as Friends & Citizens.

This summer was the second year implementing the Studio and focused on the economic and social benefit of a new downtown development project in Aberdeen, SD.  

What inspired you to enter the design competition?

Friends & Citizens 2020 chose to design around this building early in the summer. Before any design work had begun, three interns took time to study the process of architect Johnathon Segal and his ‘Architect as Developer’ mindset. Shortly after choosing a site and researching the surrounding context, the student interns ran across the competition brief on ArchDaily. The necessary submittal requirements were all items the students had already planned to investigate, so they decided to apply in unison with the studio’s final documentation.

What role do you architects play in the development world? Now, in the future, etc.

Architects are in a unique position to participate in any number of public policy and planning issues. However many times, we can only implement these ideas as often as the client allows. By entering the world of architect-led development we can further push these ideas, increasing economic and social benefits for not only the project, but for the community as a whole.

Do you plan to pursue the development of your project? If yes, why and if no, then why not.

Friends & Citizens is first and foremost an educational program. With that in mind, the studio aims for a high level of realism throughout these projects. Should the opportunity ever present itself, Friends & Citizens intends to have its core design and financial feasibility (via detailed proforma) advanced to a point where future development could be the realistic next step.  

Any closing thoughts? Anything you'd like the world to know?

Whether it be an architect led development or a more traditional project, architects have the opportunity to help build vibrant communities – one project at a time. As architects, we feel we should always be looking for ways to improve our neighborhoods and our world, not only as professionals, but as Friends & Citizens.

CO-OP Architecture, South DakotaCO-OP Architecture, South DakotaCO-OP Architecture, South DakotaCO-OP Architecture, South Dakota

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