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The Built Environment

City and Regional Planning Students Receive 2017 California State Academic Award of Excellence

A concept plan for a special wellness district in Ventura has earned Cal Poly city and regional planning graduate students accolades from the American Planning Association’s (APA) California Chapter.

The City and Regional Planning (CRP) Department’s graduate studio received the State Academic Award of Excellence at the APA’s state conference Sept. 24 in Sacramento. The Wellness District Urban Design Concept Plan was also chosen in April for the Best Student Project Award from the APA’s Central Coast Section.

The city of Ventura’s Planning Department hired Cal Poly’s spring 2016 graduate project planning studio to explore the potential for a special district anchored by the expansion of two important hospital campuses located in proximity to each other: the Community Memorial Hospital and the Ventura County Medical Center. The Wellness District concept plan recognizes the critical link between the built environment and public health and aims to change land uses, transportation options and physical design in order to reverse downward trends in people’s overall wellness and life span.

The graduate studio’s work included a report, several posters, visual presentations and a presentation to the community depicting the plan development process and final proposal. Based on in-depth field studies and surveys, the project included a higher-density mixed-use core to act as a catalyst for neighborhood development; redesigned sidewalks and intersections; a new roundabout; more ground-level uses; and other improvements to enhance walkability and a sense of community — all consistent with Ventura’s General Plan and the city’s economic strategy. The studio instructors were Professor Vicente del Rio and Assistant Professor Amir Hajrasouliha.

“I’m very proud of our faculty members and students and delighted they are recognized by the planning professionals of California for the quality of their work,” said Professor Michael Boswell, head of the City and Regional Planning Department. “Their creativity and expertise is evident in this plan to enhance the wellness of the people of Ventura.”