e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry


What is The Community Design Assistance Program?

The SUNY-CUNY Community Design Assistance Program is a cooperative effort by the Landscape Architecture programs at ESF and the City College of New York (CUNY) to connect academic instruction, research and dissemination to the actual improvement of urban, suburban and rural landscapes in the state of New York.

a city on the edge of a lakeThe program intends to generate ideas that meet the community design and planning needs of municipalities throughout the state as well as serve as a resource in helping municipalities to implement plans and designs. One of the objectives of the program is to hold conferences and publish studies, in the form of community design notebooks, that inform municipal leaders about the principles and practices of building viable, sustainable communities that have a strong sense of place.

The main users of the program are municipalities, neighborhood associations, boards, commissions, etc., which could not otherwise afford to hire consultants, or do not yet know which consultants they might need. To achieve its goals and objectives, the program uses a combination of design studio projects and thesis and faculty research. Studio projects offer graphic representations of alternative design schemes along with supporting commentary. Thesis projects and faculty research address community design issues in greater depth, especially in terms of the design-planning issues of economic, social, political, historical, aesthetic and environmental contexts.

The program intends to play a vital role in improving the viability, livability, image-ability and sense of community in the municipalities of New York State.

The Goals of the Program

The program is designed to help both ESF and City College achieve a series of educational, community and institutional goals.

Educational Goals

Encourage advanced explorations by faculty and students into the issues of community design and planning.

To encourage research, publication and dissemination regarding community design and planning in the state.

To broaden the student's ability to apply the principles of landscape architecture in a wide range of community scenarios and to learn to deal with the mercurial nature of change in the community development process.

Community Goals

To expose communities to the place making, community building principles of landscape architecture.

To cooperate with local leaders and citizens in using the principles of landscape architecture to generate place making and community building concepts.

To serve as a resource in assisting communities that want to move from idea generation to project implementation and to help communities develop the leadership required to manage the evolution of community and place.

Institutional Goals

To strengthen the linkages among teaching, public service and research in both landscape architecture programs.

To encourage stronger connections between landscape architecture and other disciplines at both colleges, as they might be dictated by the complexities of the projects.

To build a symbiotic relationship between the landscape architecture programs at ESF and CUNY and the public and not-for-profit organizations that affect community development in New York State.

Requirements for Municipal Participation

The SUNY-CUNY Program addresses various types of projects in three types of communities: Upstate New York cities, rural New York communities and New York City

CountryThe themes of these projects are solicited from various organizations such as the New York State Conference of Mayors, The American Planning Association, The New York Planning Federation, The Urban Resource Partnership, The CUNY Dormitory Authority, and the SUNY Construction Fund.

If the program is to have a strong impact it must work with communities that are committed to the effort. Therefore, client municipalities must offer, in writing, the following:

  • An official definition of the problem to be addressed.
  • The gathering and preparation appropriate graphic, verbal and quantitative information.
  • A commitment to meet with project faculty, on location, prior to project commencement.
  • A commitment from the mayor, the planning director, the planning board, etc. to participate fully in the project to assure project continuity from idea generation to project implementation, and to offer their ideas and points of views to students.
  • A commitment to cover appropriate project fees.

Program Leadership

Emanuel Carter: SUNY ESF, Landscape Architecture

Cheryl Doble: SUNY ESF, Landscape Architecture

Lee Weintraub: City College of New York, Urban Landscape Architecture Program

Hanque Macari: City College of New York, Urban Landscape Architecture Program


To find out more about the SUNY-CUNY program, contact:

Emanuel Carter, Co-Director
SUNY - College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Landscape Architecture
1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, New York 13210
Phone: (315) 470-6665
Fax: (315) 470-6540