Students for Design Activism

Parklot Design Competition

parklot main

SDA entered the Summer 2015 Parklot Competition: Request for Creativity, and designed a space to activate imagination downtown by expanding social space outdoors, engaging the public, and inspiring new outlooks on our city. MinneapoLOT (as we like to call it) was constructed by SDA this past May and will be located at the southwest entrance to the IDS Center on S 8th street in downtown Minneapolis for the duration of the summer. We encourage you to go check it out.

Special thanks to Hennepin Theatre Trust, the IDS Center, the UMN Landscape Architecture Department, and Awesome Volunteers for making this parklot possible!

Links to local articles about Parklot:
Made Here – A Project of Hennepin Theatre Trust
Minneapolis Downtown Council
College of Design Blog- UMN

rendering yuqi
IDS parklot rendering
Concept Design


before and after
Installation Process

crocheting group
Yarn Bomb!

deck detail
Plant & Deck Details

little library table detail
Little Library & High Top Tables

Marcy-Holmes Greenway

SDA worked in partnership with the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association to create a native planting palette for the Sixth Avenue Greenway. The Greenway is located near the Stone Arch Bridge on 6th Ave. SE and University Ave. and serves as a gateway between the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood and the Mississippi River. Volunteers and members from the community gathered in May to install plants. Continual volunteer care for the greenway happens on Sundays between 3:00-5:00pm.

planting plan 1

render 1

planting plan 2

render 2

B4_May 01 FSF_0279_JWinkelman

planting after FSF_0086_JWinkelman

Watershed Event a Success

Watershed Event a Success

Over 200 people gathered at the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis on April 11 to participate in the Watershed Event…

Seed Bomb Bike Bash


seedbomb poster

Northern Spark Approaches!

We are getting excited about Northern Spark this weekend–and finally finishing and debuting our project, Lower Course, at the all-night art event! (The project was also recently featured on the University of Minnesota College of Design’s blog.)

Several of our members have been hard at work putting this installation together. Michael Richardson, Lindsay Hawks, Solange Guillaume, Alex Hill, Erin Garnaas-Holmes, Katrina Matejcik, Caitlin Dippo and more have contributed hours of design work and fabrication. We’ve also been joined by Electrical Engineering student Ross Crandall and Computer Engineering student Andy Fritz, who have masterminded the interactive, motion-sensored component of the installation.



Be sure to come out and see Lower Course in action this Saturday, June 8th, from 8:58pm-5:02am in Downtown Saint Paul!

End-of-Year Open House 5/6

SDA is hosting an end-of-year open house and celebration! We invite all UMN students, faculty, staff and community members to come have a (free!) slice of pizza and view some of the community design projects that our members have been working on over the past couple of years.

What: Students for Design Activism Open House
When: Monday, May 6th, any time between 6:00-7:00pm
Where: Rapson Hall, East Bank, Room 225

We’ll also have information about upcoming projects. Are you interested in activating space? Community-based design? Sustainable technology? Interactive public art? Proactive interventions? We facilitate opportunities for designers, engineers, artists, thinkers and doers to get involved in our community and will have several projects over the summer and next semester.

This will be an open house, so please feel free to come and go as you please.

SDA’s New Website

Students for Design Activism is happy to announce our new website,! We are building our online portfolio to share the awesome projects that students have completed and are currently working on.

If you have any suggestions for the website, please send them to Also, be sure to find us on Facebook and Twitter!

SDA new website

Community Design Charrette – CW Lofts

SDA members and architecture students Caitlin Dippo and Katrina Matejcik co-authored this post.

Sunday evening, Students for Design Activism met at CW Lofts, a creative community in Northeast Minneapolis, to host a charette. We brainstormed ways to redesign “Outlot B” and other open areas around the lofts.


SDA was presented with this opportunity after Dan Stark, a member of SDA, was hit by a car while riding a bicycle near Stinson and Broadway in NE. The good samaritan stopped to help him just so happened to be involved at CW Lofts and, upon hearing his involvement with our organization, requested to partner with SDA to help redesign their outdoor space.


We took a big step towards the redesign of the space when we hosted a design charette with the residents and some of our own members. It was exciting to learn from the residents some of the history and current uses of the land. We were all interested to hear that railroad tracks used to run through the space and liked the idea of somehow alluding to that in the design. We hope to dig even deeper into the history of the building and incorporate old machinery or part of the building into the design. The residents came up with many great ways to improve the space that included such things as making the dog run more inviting, increasing the number of raised garden beds, and making the space more accessible to the rest of the Northeast Community. Together, we all came up with some great ideas and are excited to go back to CW Lofts for a second brainstorming session soon.


Northern Spark! 2013

It may be frigid outside, but summer is fast approaching! Summer in the Twin Cities means a festival of some sort every weekend. Students for Design Activism is thrilled to announce participation in one of the more exciting of these summer festivals: Northern Spark!
Northern Spark Logo
Northern Spark is (from their website) “a roving, collaborative, interactive media-oriented arts agency from the Twin Cities for the world. It presents innovative art in the public sphere, both physical and virtual, focusing on artists creatively using technology, both old and new, to engender new relations between audience and artwork and more broadly between citizenry and their built environment.

Northern Spark is a “nuit blanche” (new-ee blonch); an all night arts festival. This year it runs from 8:58pm on June 8th until 5:00am on June 9th. It will take place in Lowertown, Saint Paul.

SDA will be constructing an interactive light and sound installation that will guide visitors to the river, illuminating how our built environment is intracately connected to the ecological flow of the Mississippi.

ns image 1

We’ll post more updates and ways to get involved soon!


Prairie Oaks Institute Campus Project

Last semester, Students for Design Activism partnered with Prairie Oaks Institute, a rural retreat center focused on ecology & sustainability, retreat & renewal and education & leadership development.

SDA Co-Chair Solange Guillaume is collaborating with a team of SDA members to help POI develop a new design for their campus. The new design will enhance both pedestrian and vehicle circulation through the site while celebrating its natural setting and cultural history.


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