Kathryn Withers presented the Envision Edgehill Apartments Master Plan to AEC Power Women on Wednesday, February 25th.
This event, imagined as a virtual “show-and-tell,” was an opportunity to showcase member work. It featured five projects from across the country. Each presenter was encouraged to provide an inside look to the project of their choosing. Kathryn presented on the extensive planning effort led by Metropolitan Housing and Development Authority (MDHA) focused on the revitalization of Edgehill Apartments, a public housing site spread across two sides of Nashville’s bustling 12th Avenue corridor. Once the center of a thriving, successful African American business community, urban renewal and the wave of development in surrounding areas has pushed economic opportunity and access to affordable daily necessities further and further away from Edgehill residents.
This master planning process prioritized resident involvement to achieve equitable design. To supplement physical site research, the design team developed multiple activities aimed at garnering community feedback. In addition, MDHA hired a core group of seven community members, who happened to all be women, to manage the process of resident needs assessment surveys, empowering them to take ownership of this project and its development. Kathryn shares, “This planning process elevated the experiences of residents from being anecdotal support for design decisions to being key advisors alongside the design team. Their representation and assistance was essential in obtaining such thorough feedback, which in turn significantly shaped the final master plan.” More than just distributing the surveys, these women became ambassadors for the effort. They attended almost every single community meeting (52 in total across 20 months), made the process easier for residents as they patiently walked them through the survey, and inspired engagement as role models within the community.
AEC Power Women is a Nashville-based networking group for women in the AEC industry. “I believe it’s important to be engaged in groups such as this – not only as attendees, but as presenters when given the opportunity,” says Kathryn. “This quick, five-minute presentation was a wonderful platform to not only showcase Barge’s important work, but to also establish myself among my peers. I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished with Envision Edgehill Apartments, and it was great to share our lessons learned with colleagues in this manner."