Intern Research – The Give Back Gang: Harvester Community

Presented by 2023 DC Summer Interns

October 3, 2023


This past semester, Design Collaborative’s Give Back Gang, a group assembled to coordinate giving back to our community, tasked summer interns with meaningful projects centered around helping out communities and organizations in our backyard. The Harvester Community celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, and Design Collaborative partnered with this community to help visualize their plans and dreams for the future of the neighborhood. The group of summer interns split into three groups to tackle three design efforts. The first group of students was responsible for creating a master plan for the Harvester Community. The second group designed a bus shelter along a main thoroughfare in the neighborhood, and the third and final group worked on future plans for the Redemption House within this area.

Master Planning Group

Team one began planning for the future of the Harvester community. They explored and considered the possibilities for growth and development for the next 5-10 years. Through extensive research on the community’s history, and with involvement from the neighborhood association, they identified key areas for improvement: enhancing safety, instilling a sense of pride in the legacy of the community, and fostering a strong sense of community among residents.

The team proposed design initiatives, including a new community hub, updates to entrance corridors to reflect the culture of Harvester, revitalization of the wooded areas in the neighborhoods, and the creation of a vibrant new Harvester Plaza. This plaza could serve as a gathering place for both current and neighboring communities, featuring play spaces, a sports field, and areas for socializing and dining.

To ensure plans aligned with the needs and desires of the community, the team participated in Harvester’s 100-year celebration this summer to gather feedback. It was wonderful to interact further with the community, hear concerns, and get excited about the vision for the future of this community.

So, as we look ahead, we can imagine a future where the Harvester Plaza stands as a shining example of progress and unity for all who encounter it.

Give Back Gang Master Plan
Give Back Gang Master Plan
Harvest Community Sign

Bus Shelter Group

Team two focused on designing a bus stop shelter for the Harvester Community. Currently, the bus stop lacks a shelter, leaving residents vulnerable to poor weather conditions. To address this issue, the design team came together with a goal of creating a functional and aesthetically pleasing bus shelter that aims to increase safety, utilize solar power, provide shelter, promote community interaction, invest in future generations, and celebrate the Harvester neighborhood.

The team brainstormed and presented various designs at the community event, summer of 2023, taking into consideration the need for increased safety measures such as extra lighting and activities for children due to speeding vehicles on the street. It was also helpful to gather feedback from the community that could inform the next phase of this bus shelter design. The project will not only serve a practical purpose but also brings the community together, being a symbol of the Harvester neighborhood’s unity, safety, and forward-thinking mindset.

Harvest Community Sign

Redemption House Group

To create a supportive and welcoming environment for women transitioning from the justice system, the third team was tasked with designing a new home for Redemption House within the Harvester Community. Their design considerations focused on keeping the exterior and interior of the building in line with other locations in town, while incorporating trauma-informed design strategies such as natural light and open spaces.

The team explored an open floor plan, proximity of bedrooms to promote togetherness with family members, connection with living spaces and outdoor patios, pathways providing a sense of community and connectivity for residents, and more. Overall, the goal was to create a safe and supportive living environment that promotes healing and reconnection for these women. The team is excited to continue working with the Redemption House for the next phase of the design process.

Harvester Community Hub
Harvester Community Hub

DC is thrilled to be given the opportunity to invest in Fort Wayne and the Harvester Community.  With the large group of interns over the summer, the group was able to dig deep into background research, understand the current needs and desires of the community, and help create visuals for an exciting future for the neighborhood. This also gave our interns the opportunity to learn more about Fort Wayne while they’re here for the summer. DC is excited to continue working with the Harvester Community and see what ideas come to life from here!

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