Hamer Center for Community Design

The Hamer Center for Community Design encourages building community through building knowledge, and fulfills its mission through engagement in three inter-related activities: teaching, research, and service.

Community design, research, and education

The Hamer Center for Community Design in the Stuckeman School serves as a laboratory for community partnerships that integrate socio-economic and environmental conscious resolution to design and planning problems. It is an incubator for exploring ideas, a classroom, and a real-world link; viewing the activities of teaching, research and service as interrelated in investigating issues of community design and planning.

Hamer Center for Community Design and Landscape Architecture collaboration "Shine a Light" three dimensional drawing involving LED and water.
Background image shows the skyline of Pittsburgh, PA at the three rivers confluence overlaid with the text Cleaner Community Air in white, capital letters and a script font logo that reads Growing Impact

Cleaner Community Air

An episode of the “Growing Impact” podcast produced by the Institutes of Energy and the Environment (IEE) features Hamer Center Director Lisa Iulo’s research related to air quality and resilient communities.

Mission

The Mission of the Hamer Center for Community Design is to encourage building community through building knowledge. It fulfills its mission through engagement in three inter-related activities: Teaching, Research and Service.

Values

The Hamer Center serves as a laboratory for community partnerships that integrate socio-economic and environmental conscious resolution to design and planning problems. It is an incubator for exploring ideas, a classroom, and a real-world link; viewing the activities of teaching, research and service as interrelated in investigating issues of community design and planning.

The Hamer Center seeks to empower communities by providing information for responsible development through research and analysis of specific issues and by providing planning and pre-design services.

The Hamer Center serves as a clearinghouse for research, projects, and case summaries related to community design and planning. The Hamer Center compiles research and community design/planning documentations for dissemination, summarizes documents relating to topics or themes and relates the material back to community issues in the Commonwealth and its unique regional conditions.

Goals

  • Community outreach and empowerment.
  • Public education and dissemination of research related to community design and planning.
  • Focus on issues related to disadvantaged communities and communities in need.
  • Provide community service through studio programs, research programs, grant writing, and/or special projects. Each service studio or project must have an academic component that can be linked to a research question or teaching pedagogical question.
  • To operate as a teaching and learning center where students and faculty are in place to explore new methodologies and required to expand project scopes to include an academic pursuit. The Center is not in direct competition with professional offices; however, clients should see the Center as a resource that helps to explore and define design/planning problems.
  • To serve as a hub for the Stuckeman School community, and beyond – working on community design/planning research and education.

Project Map

This story map provides a chronological and geographic portfolio of Hamer Center work beginning in 1996: Story Map

Text reading Penn State LARCH 414 Design Activism Studio is overlaid on an aerial photo of green trees and houses with metal roofs.
The cover of Rethinking 322 booklet featuring an overhead view of the Penns-Brush Valley area in Central Pennsylvania.

Publications

Following is a brief overview of publications that have been produced to document research within the Hamer Center for Community Design.

Featured Publications

Coordinating and Accessing Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

A white paper on energy efficient housing research that resulted in the collaboration between the Hamer Center for Community Design and the Center for Energy Law and Policy (CELP).
Link: CELP
Publication date: November 2023

LARCH 414: Design Activism Studio

This studio connects with the informal amphibious slum community of Claverito to address One Health issues through the design of the area’s built environment.
Link: English | Spanish
Publication date: June 2023

Rethinking 322

This booklets presents the design solutions upper-level landscape architecture students proposed to local residents as alternatives to a PennDOT-proposed “super highway” through the Penns-Brush Valley area.
Link: Issuu
Publication date: March 2023

Williamsburg Trail & River Design Workbook

This workbook is a resource for community members, planners, local and regional government, students, and anyone else interested in enhancing the landscapes around the Lower Trail and the Frankstown Branch in Williamsburg, Pennsylvania.
Link: Issuu
Publication Date: December 2022

Design for Life

This publication highlights the expanse of innovative, socially responsive, and community-engaged design work developed by faculty and students within the Stuckeman School at Penn State from January 2018 through December 2020 as a testament to the school’s creative practice, research and expertise.
Link: Issuu
Publication date: May 2022

Research Methods in Building Science and Technology

This book offers a variety of perspectives and firsthand experiences from scholars and experts in building science and technology on using various research methods — from simulation-based to experimental methods — in answering the key research questions of the field.
Link: Springer
Publication date: 2021

Labs and Outreach

Department of Energy Solar Decathlon Design Challenge

Hamer Center faculty play a significant role in advising and supporting the Penn State students who participate in the Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Decathlon. Learn more.

2023 Build Challenge Team (led by Penn State Harrisburg)

Ecology plus Design

Ecology plus Design (E+D) is an emerging research center that engages research-activated design intervention in an effort to significantly improve the ecological health of the designed world, particularly in the areas of biodiversity, energy, risk and hazard, and water systems.

E+D

Energy Efficient Housing Research Group

The Energy Efficient Housing Research Group (EEHR) is concerned with the study, design, and implementation of Responsible Housing. An outreach arm of the Hamer Center, the EEHR is comprised of a multidisciplinary team of faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students from across the University dedicated to the investigation of responsible housing in order to inform better housing and more resource-conscious living.

EEHR

Initiative for Resilient Communities

The Penn State Initiative for Resilient Communities (PSIRC) provides an environment of shared discovery where people can come together to address local resilience challenges of small, riverine communities vulnerable to flood risk. Working with local stakeholders and decision makers, PSIRC provides a way to leverage the resources of Penn State to help make an impact for local communities.

PSIRC

Research and Energy Efficiency Lab

The Research and Energy Efficiency Lab (RE2 Lab) is dedicated to research on energy use and environmental impacts of built environments.

RE2 Lab

Study Abroad: Tanzania

Tanzania’s Udzungwa Mountains National Park represents the front line of conservation for some of the most important biodiversity remaining in the Eastern Arc. This geographic setting provides an opportunity for students to observe and assess several critical dimensions of environmental sustainability.

Study Abroad: Tanzania

https://wpsu1-psu-arts.pantheonsite.io/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/322.jpg
A community member leans over a map on the table and points something out to a student at left and another resident at right.

Studio Partnerships

The Hamer Center endeavors to support our faculty and students serving communities through research and design studio exploration. This is a list of some of our more recent studio collaborations.

LARCH 315: Landscape Architecture Design V — Fall 2023

Landscape architecture students explored the role of the designer in addressing systemic socio-ecological “wicked problems” in the community of Braddock in southeast Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Community Design — Braddock

LARCH 414: Advanced Design Studio — Spring 2023

Landscape architecture students connected with the informal amphibious slum community of Claverito in Iquitos, Peru, to address One Health issues through the design of their built environment.

Design Activism Studio booklet (English)

LARCH 414: Advanced Design Studio — Fall 2022

Landscape architecture students spent the semester developing a Trail & River Design Workbook to assist community members, planners, local and regional governments, students, and anyone else interested in enhancing the landscapes around the Lower Trail and the Frankstown Brach in Williamsburg, PA.

Williamsburg Trail & River Workbook

LARCH 414: Advanced Design Studio — Fall 2022

Landscape architecture students helped area residents explore options to a PennDOT-proposed “super highway” through the Penns-Brush Valley area.

Rethinking 322 booklet | Story

LARCH 315/817: Landscape Architecture Design V Landscape Architecture Design V — Fall 2022

Landscape architecture students engaged with residents of Southeast Lancaster in South Central Pennsylvania to celebrate the area’s gems, grapple with systemic issues, and envision the future of the southeast quadrant of Lancaster.

Southeast Lancaster Studio Summary (PDF)

GD 304 Practical Communications — Spring 2021

Graphic design students were tasked with designing and developing a signage and wayfinding package that creates a sense of entry with major gateways into downtown Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.

Selinsgrove booklet (PDF)

ARCH 231: Architectural Design I — Fall 2021

Second-year architecture students developed ideas for a nature center and kayak rental facility for the Ise of Que in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.

Selinsgrove booklet (PDF)

ARCH 431: Architectural Design V — Spring 2020

Architecture students were asked to design a new garden and community center for Sankofa Village Community Garden, a non-profit organization based in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Sankofa Village booklet (PDF)

ARCH 431: Architectural Design V — Fall 2019

Architecture students were tasked with exploring the design of the Pottstown (Pennsylvania) Children’s Discovery Center. The underlying research question was: How can architecture contribute to child development?

Pottstown booklet (PDF)

ARCH 432: Architectural Design VI — Spring 2018

Altoona Catalyst for the Arts

ARCH 431: Architectural Design VI — Fall 2017

Community-Centered Wellness

ARCH 432 Architectural Design VI — Spring 2017

Roots to Results: Bellefonte Area School District Sustainable Farm

ARCH 431: Architectural Design VI — Fall 2016

Resilient PA - Part I | Part 2

Stephen Mainzer sits facing community members during a community meeting with the Hamer Center logo behind him on a screen.
Community members meet with Hamer Center researchers over proposed plans for Selinsgrove, PA.

People

Faculty, staff, students, as well as external researchers and industry professionals all contribute to the vital exchange of ideas and solutions in the Hamer Center.

The Core Faculty Researchers come from the Stuckeman School’s Departments of Architecture, Graphic Design, and Landscape Architecture.

Core Faculty Researchers

Rahman Azari

  • Associate Professor of Architecture
  • Director of RE2 Lab

Lisa Domenica Iulo

  • Director of the Hamer Center for Community Design
  • Associate Professor of Architecture
Lisa Iulo is pictured speaking to someone on her right who has a laptop on his lap while a community member looks on.
Two communities members talk in front of Hamer Center posters at Floodfest.

Affiliate Researchers

Peter Aeschbacher

  • Associate Professor of Architecture and Landscape Architecture

Leann Andrews

  • Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture
  • Stuckeman Career Development Assistant Professor in Design

Mallika Bose

  • Professor of Landscape Architecture
  • Associate Dean for Research, Creative Activity, and Graduate Studies

Charles Andrew "Andy" Cole

  • Director E+D: Ecology plus Design
  • Professor of Landscape Architecture and Ecology

David Goldberg

  • Associate Clinical Professor of Landscape Architecture
  • Director of Penn State Geodesign

Stephen Mainzer

  • Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture

Paul Daniel Marriott

  • Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture

Ute Poerschke

  • Professor of Architecture
  • Associate Department Head for Graduate Education

Taylor Shipton

  • Assistant Teaching Professor of Graphic Design

Alec Spangler

  • Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture

Hong Wu

  • Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture

Curriculum Collaborators

Larry Gorenflo

  • Stuckeman Chair in Design
  • Professor of Landscape Architecture, Geography, African Studies, and Anthropology