UK Students Begin to Re-envision Southland Drive


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 4, 2016) The public will get the opportunity to see design concepts created by University of Kentucky students for the Southland Drive neighborhood at an upcoming Community Input Meeting. The meeting for Retrofitting the RETRO: Southland Drive project, which will include presentations of work by UK interiors, historic preservation and landscape architecture students, will begin 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, at the Oleika Shrine Temple, located at 326 Southland Dr.

The "Retrofitting the RETRO: Southland Drive Case Study" is an academic exercise being conducted alongside the sidewalks design and construction project on Southland Drive. The study is being conducted by Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government's Division of Planning in partnership with the UK's School of Interiors and Department of Historic Preservation in the College of Design and the Department of Landscape Architecture in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment. All work created by the students is purely conceptual and is meant to provide a way for the Southland neighborhood to explore creative design options to supplement the infrastructure that is underway.

Suburban commercial strip centers are scattered about the city. Once a community center for neighborhoods these centers now act as a physical and social divider in some places. With new sidewalk construction underway at Southland, Retrofitting the Retro is using the neighborhood to explore how to connect and revitalize suburban strip centers through proposing design solutions to alter parking lots into a welcoming public space while still providing adequate vehicular circulation and parking. The project hopes to discover how to create a welcoming shared public space in a suburban style strip center to enhance mobility and make for a more attractive, safe, successful and supportive neighborhood district.

This fall, the case study is documenting Southland Drive's history, successes and challenges and is using a data-driven approach to inform public space designs. Students started their work interviewing property owners, the Southland Association president and merchants. Later in September, during Design Week, the UK group studied suburban commercial strips in Nashville; collected and examined data specific to Southland Drive; and designed data-driven affordable solutions for Southland to present to the community. Design Week was made possible with support from sponsorships from the UK Student Sustainability Council and the Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability and the Environment.

Wednesday's Community Input Meeting will be the first of several events where the public is asked to share their thoughts, concerns and visions for the Southland district. Following the meeting, students will get back to work refining the concepts based on the community feedback.

This winter, the partners hope to present another community meeting and a project overview at the Southland Annual Meeting. The Retrofitting the RETRO project is made possible by the partnership with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government’s Division of Planning and sponsorship from Blue Grass Community Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Donor Advised Fund. 

For more information on Retrofitting the RETRO, email Brandi Peacher in the Division of Planning at

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