FROM POSTAL NETWORKS TO COMMUNITY PLACES
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is so ubiquitous it is almost invisible. Controlling over 35,000 facilities with over 300,000 vehicles, it is the only entity that services every home in every neighborhood almost every day. In 2016 USPS facilities hosted over 2.7 billion unique visitors. As a $70B dollar entity it would list in the top 50 of the Fortune 100 largest businesses.
Despite its scale – USPS facilities are contracting and operations are radically modernizing in the face of evolving global commerce. How and where can facilities and distribution infrastructure adapt and even be repurposed? How can the core service and function of the Postal Service better align with the needs of the places where they are located? How can postal networks and underutilized postal facilities be envisioned as civic community hubs? Building upon active research coming out of the Heinz College, this elective course will both explore how and where to integrate innovative solutions within the Postal Service network through human centered design and place making. By crafting a series of scenario and playbooks, targeting a subset of postal real estate that is near closure - students will have the opportunity to develop an approach to adaptive reuse and community engagement to save the post office. Incorporating solutions that address energy usage; access to healthy food and services; leverage smart and connected technologies; as well as tactical urbanism concepts, students will work in
interdisciplinary teams to envision concepts for building community resilience. Students will serve a critical role in helping co-design and co-create solutions with practitioners from both the place-making and postal domains as a part of a visioning charrette to be facilitated in the Spring, thus featuring their work at a national scale.
An interdisciplinary course co-instructed by the the School of Architecture, the School of Design, and the Heinz College - this course will provide students the opportunity to link place-making and the postal system as well as explore and even trial tangible solutions at a former postal facility in the neighborhood of Homewood.
This course might change your life. If nothing else - you will really appreciate how you get your mail.