Aberdeen, SD (2022)

The arrival of the Lakewood Mall in 1990 ushered in an era of downtown decay, resulting in a displacement of Aberdeen’s core. Friends & Citizens considered how restoring the historic Civic Arena and surrounding campus could help bring life back downtown.

Friends & Citizens is a summer-long design studio that integrates the academic and professional worlds of architecture for a group of interns. Each summer, CO-OP oversees a handful of students from various disciplines, offering them the tools and guidance required to complete a theoretical design project in addition to some practical daily work. On the theoretical side, the students interact with various entities – including local governments and business owners, design professionals, and the general public – as they design a conceptual solution to a real-world problem in a local community. The students develop their design skills, take part in public policy discussions, learn smart and sustainable land use and urban planning strategies, and most importantly, help build vibrant communities. At the end of the summer, they present their research and design publicly with the hopes of bringing the project to life down the road.

Throughout the summer of 2022, four design students – Jami Ewart, Matthew Woldt, Abby Dethlefsen, and Miranda Ysbrand – worked together to propose the renovation of the Civic Arena and its surrounding campus in Aberdeen, SD. An effort has recently emerged to revitalize Downtown Aberdeen and re-establish it as the heartbeat of the community. Historically, the Civic Arena functioned as a hub of community activity, hosting everything from high school basketball to Louis Armstrong, Johnny Cash, and U.S. presidents. Restorations are sorely needed to bring the arena back to its former glory. No hammers have been swung, but we’re moving the ball forward. Or puck, I suppose.

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