News Bites: Collaborative Design Students Help Build Community Soccer Field for ArtPrize Eight

Posted October 6, 2016 in Collaborative Design, News Bites, Student, ArtPrize

Students in the Collaborative Design program at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) recently had the opportunity to help Habitat for Humanity of Kent County and SiTE:LAB turn an empty lot into a catalyst for community engagement during ArtPrize Eight.

Through their Design Thinking course, students Shanel Burney, Erin Collins, Ian Culver, Conner Irwin, Owen Loughrin, Lauren Martelli, Emily Nagy, Emily Pinter, and Ben Schumitz were invited to create a design project that would communicate Habitat for Humanity’s involvement in the part of Grand Rapids’ Roosevelt Park neighborhood that SiTE:LAB has transformed into a versatile exhibition and event space over the last two years.  

After researching how the two organizations interface with each other and the surrounding community, the students proposed the creation of a community soccer field that would draw local residents into the SiTE:LAB/Habitat for Humanity area of the neighborhood.

(above and below): The community field was a collaboration through and through, and has been generating a lot of engagement with local residents. (image courtesy of Gayle DeBruyn)

The KCAD students and other volunteers constructed the field over a day of work. The completed field has quickly proven a hit with neighborhood residents, especially younger ones. The students even silk-screened informal uniforms for visitors of all ages to wear as they play and practice their soccer skills.

Their goal, says Associate Professor and Collaborative Design Program Chair Gayle DeBruyn, is to help residents connect to the community-building work being done in their neighborhood.

“We’ll be monitoring the field’s use during ArtPrize, keeping it maintained, and preparing a document that reflects on the impact of the project,” says DeBruyn. “We hope that the report will help to encourage Habitat for Humanity to continue to maintain the field after ArtPrize, and to realize how important green space is to the overall development project. I anticipate that the outcome will be a more connected community of children and adults.”

The collaboration even resulted in special t-shirts for players to wear on the field, as well as benches, nets, and field lines. (images courtesy of Gayle DeBruyn)

The students’ proposal called for Habitat for Humanity to contribute materials for the field including nets, wooden benches, and paint, as well as making door-to-door visits throughout the neighborhood to build awareness of both the field and the organization’s presence in the neighborhood and collaboration with SiTE:LAB.

"Habitat Kent's work is founded on collaboration and creativity," said Luke Ferris, communications specialist at Habitat for Humanity of Kent County. "The students were able to have an outside perspective and help connect the neighborhood to the space in a unique and fun way."

Learn more about KCAD’s Collaborative Design program at