Christopher Merritt, MLA II 2017
Organization: Central Indiana Community Foundation, Indianapolis, IN
Sponsor: Joint Center for Housing Community Service Fellowship
” The 2016 summer was a rewarding experience for me as a Community Service Fellow and a great start to an impactful project for Indianapolis. The Central Indiana Community Foundation is beginning efforts to raise $100 million for projects that improve connectivity, mobility, and livability across the greater Indianapolis area. Through the fellowship, I had the opportunity to work with foundation leaders, key stakeholders, and city officials on establishing a vision for selecting project types and locations.
With the success of the Cultural Trail in Indianapolis, CICF has a strong and notable history for implementing projects focused on improving connectivity for Indianapolis residents. Now, questions remain for Indianapolis on how to continue to build and expand upon that legacy. As a landscape architect, I was able to bring a focus to the conversation that enabled the working group to think of a successful project through a different perspective.
Ongoing conversations with CICF focus on how to leverage or improve existing and future assets, create equitable access to everyday needs including jobs and housing, fostering improved health and livability, and leading by example with creative design solutions.
The summer was especially productive for my research interests regarding reinvention in Midwest cities. In addition to my work with CICF on connectivity projects in Indianapolis, they sponsored my research work in other Midwest cities to explore methods of reinvention through investment in public space. Throughout the summer, I traveled to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Chicago to talk with local civic leaders about the role of design and public space as a potential catalyst for renewal in cities. Much of the research has laid the groundwork for what I expect to be a productive and exploratory final year at the Graduate School of Design.
Special thanks to Michael Kaufmann in Indianapolis for his leadership throughout the summer.”