Auburn’s Urban Armature Workshop

Montgomery’s Cypress Nature Park is truly a treasure hidden in plain sight.
Very few people are even aware that just 1 mile northeast of the Alabama State
Capitol Building lies 260 acres of ‘urban wild.’ This rich patch of ecological
diversity includes ancient river bluffs, natural seeps and valuable swamplands. To date
more than 100 species of birds and 60 species of trees have been identified within the
park confines.

In early March 2015 Auburn University’s Master of Landscape Architecture program held
an intense, week-long workshop to explore the potentials of this often-overlooked resource.
Julie Bargmann, founder of D.I.R.T. studio and associate professor at the University of
Virginia, was invited to lead the motley crew. The workshop, affectionately christened the
Urban Armature Workshop, focused attention on design potentials embedded within the
post-industrial landscape between Cypress Nature Park and the Montgomery Riverwalk.
This rich terrain is braided with channelized segments of Cypress Creek, abandoned rail
lines, patches of industry and fragments of neighborhoods. The 12 teams were charged
with first unearthing the rich histories of the site, then exploring strategies that connect the
nature park to the riverwalk, continually weaving their designs into the city along the way.

At the workshop’s end students presented their work to an audience of Auburn faculty,
community stakeholders, site developers and City of Montgomery staff. Participants
walked away with a new appreciation for the role these post-industrial sites can play in the
regeneration of our city. The workshop revealed the potential these sites hold, the potential
to strengthen the ecological, social and cultural health of the city of Montgomery


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