Retrofitting the city

Kalie Marantette

An ongoing project has been taking place on Southland Drive called “Retrofitting the RETRO” that plans to rebuild and design vacant areas for citizens to walk, bike and create a better experience for the people in the community. 

The project is funded by the Blue Grass Community Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Donor Fund by a $10,000 donation and gathering students from UK to make this venture come to life.

The UK School of Interiors, UK Department of Landscape Architecture and UK Department of Historic Preservation will work on Retrofitting the RETRO in help to come up with designs for project.

The interior design students will work on one particular space and the landscape students will be working on compromising a plan for the whole corridor.

“It is a project that is taking vacant space and making it useful,” said Brandi Peacher, design specialist at Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government in the Division of Planning.

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Peacher said community engagement is key for the classroom. 

“This project provides opportunities for students to work in a real-world experience along with a great addition to the community,” Peacher said. The project will let students, on top of creating designs for the project, create ways for transportation, open space and make visiting a pleasant experience. 

“I firmly believe in the idea of community engagement as an educational approach because it helps design students to see the positive impact they can have on the world,” said the Director of the School of Interiors Patrick Lee Lucas.

For students who want to contribute to this project, a gallery exhibit will be on Dec. 7 at Good Foods Co-op. The time to be determined for the event is from 5 to 7 p.m., and will allow students to look at all the designs made for the project and even vote on which design they like the best.

Students who are not involved in the building of the project are also encouraged to go to and complete a survey about the project. One or two students’ designs will be selected.