Schuyler’s Summer with evolveEA
Our design intern, Schuyler McAuliffe, is returning to grad school. Before saying goodbye, we interviewed him to reflect on his time in our office.
Q: What brought you to intern in our office this summer?
Schuyler: One of the things I learned or perhaps became aware of over the last year in the Urban Design program at CMU is I am an advocate for sustainable urban environments molded by the people that inhabit them. That is one of the main reasons I was attracted to the work that evolveEA was engaging with at the planning level. My graduate thesis, ‘The Shape of Energy’ focuses on socio-energy systems transitions, which is a way of describing the relationships between people, infrastructure and environments, and how energy is entangled and gives form to these systems. The forms of carbon based energy we have used over the past century and a half have strongly dictated the behavior and logic of our urban environments, and consequently affected social and natural systems. evolveEA’s work with ecodistrict planning and district scale energy projects has a similar lens to socio-energy systems transitions. One of the main focal points they share is strong engagement with local communities. Both socio-energy systems design in theory and evolveEA’s ecodistrict planning in practice engage the local communities to participate in the planning and design process.
Q: Was there a project you worked on with us that utilized your skills in new or interesting ways?
Schuyler: The Allegheny Together project I worked on was a really interesting precedent of a data driven approach that informed design schemes for business district revitalization projects in small towns in Allegheny County. The community involvement part of the project came in August when we held Business Advisory Council meetings and community meetings with the townships we were working with. Allegheny Together is a program for which evolveEA has been consulting over the past three years, helping Main Street business districts throughout Allegheny County advance their place-based economic strategies. Each year a number of communities join the program to receive technical assistance from our team, and this year I joined David, Ashley, Nico and members of Fourth Economy Consulting to work with community leaders in Mount Oliver, Pitcairn, and Braddock. I helped create a building inventory database for each of these communities that provides data on their existing building conditions and property owners in order to streamline potential developments. Additionally, we created diagrams of typical intersection conditions, highlighting best practices for pedestrian safety, stormwater management, and elevating local conditions to reinforce the sense of place and arrival to the community.
Q: What will you be looking forward to as you return to grad school this fall?
Schuyler: As a crescendo to my work at evolveEA and a continuation of my graduate thesis Christine Mondor and I will be virtually attending the Ecocity World Summit. The summit aggregates the most passionate and hard working professionals, educators, researchers, and students from urban planning, public policy, building science, food systems, and ecology. The mission of the summit is to motivate and energize participants to transform the way we live, work, and build in the world, because our current methods are not sustainable.
Schuyler McAuliffe has a data-driven approach to design and is a systems thinker. He holds a Master of Architecture degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is currently pursuing his Master’s in Urban Design. He also is on the path to Architecture licensure. Schuyler is currently working on projects that include residential design, community-based, and public space design, and he also works as a research assistant for small-scale urban developments.