WSU landscape architecture students have completed the first phase of the Pullman-WSU Gateway project.

The students are working with the Pullman community to develop a vision for the city’s Gateway District, the area that connects WSU to downtown. As part of the year-long project, students in the School of Design and Construction are developing a master plan that will provide visionary and inspiring connection in the underutilized area between the WSU campus and downtown Pullman.

Junior landscape architecture students over the course of the semester created master plans, imagining what the Gateway District could be in 2040. Working remotely for the last portion of the course, the students envisioned ways to link the campus to downtown from the Steam Plant to Main Street. Before in-person learning was halted, the students participated in a community forum at the Brelsford Visitor Center and met with town and campus stakeholders to help inform their planning.

While the plans show great variety, many common elements emerged, including ideas for local and regional transportation based on electrified vehicles and rail, creating environmentally beneficial “sponge parks” to clean stormwater and create habitats along the south fork of the Palouse River, and adding new commercial, educational, and housing opportunities, said Steve Austin, clinical assistant professor, who taught this semester’s course.

Associate Professor Matt Melcher will lead next semester’s course. Working collaboratively with members of the community, the students are getting real-world experience while helping to fulfill WSU’s land-grant mission in outreach, research, and education, Austin said.

The project is part of the university’s desire to improve town and gown relationships, he said. At the same time, the school has a continuing mission to engage and provide service to the community. The project also aims to support the city of Pullman’s efforts to improve downtown. Several community groups are involved in the project, including the Downtown Pullman Business Association and the Pullman Chamber and Visitor Center.

In the fall, architecture and interior design students will continue the work, creating detailed building designs. A public viewing of this semester’s work will be scheduled when conditions allow.

By Tina Hilding, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture