The University of Utah
College of Architecture + Planning

About Westside Studio

Westside studio is a workshop course offered by the University of Utah through its Department of City and Metropolitan Planning. Its purpose is to conduct research and projects in partnership with neighborhoods on the west side of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Every year, the studio chooses a project related to community development, local planning, or promoting local art and culture in a west side neighborhood, giving students a chance to work directly with community partners.

Salt Lake City neighborhoods on the west side have undergone drastic transformations as a result of macro-level socioeconomic shifts in the United States. Most striking are trends of a growing number of immigrants and refugees in particular neighborhoods, contrasted starkly with the lack of representation of these new communities in the political and planning process.

The University of Utah and west side neighborhoods share a vision of a community woven together through partnerships based on mutual empowerment, discovery, and learning rooted in diverse life experiences. The University of Utah Neighborhood Partners and the community councils on the west side are working together to increase diverse representation in community council meetings as a way to include all communities in the political and planning process.

Click on each community council’s name above to find their website or click on the pictures below to find more detailed information on the community councils.

Rose Park



Poplar Grove


The Westside Leadership Institute (WLI) supports the development of west side resident leaders as catalysts for positive change in their communities. WLI offers leadership workshops taught by University faculty and community leaders to west Salt Lake residents while connecting them to local decision-making bodies, funding sources, and further support. Our goal is to equip citizens to take civic action in their communities, while providing learning opportunities for University faculty and students.

Spanish WLI

What We Learned

What Is A Leader

Group Projects


Housing Diversity Project



Studying Housing Diversity – Fall 2017

Housing diversity is interconnected and interdependent with other elements of communities; understanding these connections allow for more meaningful action. How does housing diversity impact the west side? How do residents currently view their housing opportunities and assets where they live? What obstacles or barriers are there to overcome?

Rose Park Community Council

West Side Affordable Housing Plan

This is a workshop course places student in a real-world planning context while providing west side neighborhoods with planning services. Spring 2020, our project is titled, “West Side Affordable Housing Plan: Planning for Affordable Housing and a High Quality of Life.”

Housing Summit

Through their leadership under the Puerto Rican Agenda, Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation, Hispanic Housing Development Corporation, LUCHA, the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and the University of Utah convened a 2018 Housing Summit to facilitate bold discussions, kick-off a research agenda, and create new strategies to celebrate, preserve, and strengthen the cultural vibrancies of our neighborhoods.

With this purpose in mind, the organizations aim to share plans and vision along with affordable housing advocates, decision-makers, and the community at large to retain and strengthen Puerto Rican and other households of color, and to increase affordable housing options for residents along Chicago’s Near Northwest Side.

The goals and objectives of this one-day event were as follow:

• Understand the extent of gentrification on Chicago’s Near Northwest Side using historical perspectives, data on changing demographics and housing market trends.

• Learn from policy experts, affordable housing developers, decision-makers, and community members about the barriers and opportunities to further affordable housing goals in Chicago’s Near Northwest Side.

• Increase awareness of the urgent need for affordable housing, fair housing enforcement, and racial equity of homeownership in our communities.

• Engage organizations and residents in meaningful dialogue about stabilizing the Puerto Rican evacuee community, as well as the Latino community at large.

• Connect housing outcomes in Chicago’s historic Puerto Rican and Latino communities with those of health/wellness and environmental justice.

• Cooperatively plan for the future of Chicago’s Near Northwest Side in an equitable manner, particularly through youth engagement and empowerment.

Previous housing summits have resulted in longer-term outputs, including the published report entitled “60 Years of Migration: Puerto Ricans in Chicagoland.”  The host organizations expect that the 2018 Housing Summit will result in similar long-term outputs in partnership with local universities, research institutes and elected officials.

Paint the Pavement

Involvement by neighborhood traffic committees in traffic calming efforts are on the increase, with generally positive results. However, often times poor neighborhoods lack traffic calming infrastructure. To overcome the affordability obstacle, this research specifically includes community engagement, to accompany empirical research testing Paint the Pavement projects, which are believed to have an effect in traffic safety. Yet, no research has been conducted on the matter. To expand our understanding of what potentially could be a low-cost safety measure, we are proposing to implement Paint the Pavement projects in Salt Lake City (Utah). The objectives of the project are to: 1) Engage community organizations to identify pedestrian safety hot spots, engage the neighborhood in designing a Paint the Pavement project and garner support for implementation; 2) Measure before-and-after outcomes of at least two Paint the Pavement projects; and, 3) Understand community response to and engagement with these specific community-engaged affordable measures. In addition to gathering data on the effect that Paint the Pavement has on traffic, this research project expects to build community-based social capital in the communities where is implemented. Increased capacity in neighborhoods is a step towards raising the quality of life with the potential for broad, long lasting benefits.

In The News

Morton, S. “Two Versions of Traffic Calming Installed on the West Side.” West View Media, July 27, 2017.

Handley, L. “Art Project Aims to Improve Safety at Intersection in Rose Park.” May 6, 2017.

KUTV. “‘Paint the Pavement’ Project Works to Keep Pedestrians Safe in SLC Neighborhood.” KUTV. May 6, 2017.

García, I.  Street Murals in Utah. Congress of New Urbanism, Utah Chapter 9/15/17.

García, I.  “First Street Mural in Utah.” Utah Planner. 44 (6). Aug.-Sept. 2017.

The Westside Studio, in the College of Architecture + Planning at the University of Utah, conducts research in and with the neighborhoods west of State Street in Salt Lake City. Each year the Studio selects projects related to community development, urban design, economic development, green infrastructure, and/or arts & culture. The Studio emphasizes the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders from governmental agencies to neighborhood groups and individuals.


River District Gardens
900 South and 900 West offers a sense of place where people gather for recreation and enjoy the quality of the natural environment, as well as the character and values of the West Side.


Re-Imagining Jordan Park
The Westside Studio class, in collaboration with community members, University Neighborhood Partners, the Sorenson
Unity Center and citizens involved in the Poplar Grove Community Council, has identified Jordan Park as an underutilized
facility. Because there is interest in revitalizing the park, an analysis of its benefits and hindrances are summarized in the following report. Key priorities have been identified, including refurbishing/repurposing buildings, providing lighting, improving infrastructure, and creating more community involvement opportunities.

A cookbook for building community identity in the river district.


2013: Westside Studio: River District
The River District is a great place to live, work, and visit! Close to downtown Salt Lake City, the River District offers something for everyone and embodies a unique vibrancy within a community of culturally diverse and passionate people. The River District is energized by authentic music, creative art, savory food, family-friendly festivals, and a thriving local business community.

2012: Westside Studio: River District
The River District is an idea inspired by west Salt Lake City’s unique but often overlooked and forgotten asset– the gentle Jordan River which peacefully weaves and flows through this side of the city. In the interest of diminishing and eventually erasing the negative stigma that often plagues the “West Side,” the River District brand and logo can highlight the positive assets and values intrinsic to the river itself– and more importantly, the community surrounding its walls.


2011: Westside Greenways: North
The Westside Greenways North study area includes a 5-mile stretch of the Jordan River. The Jordan River is on the Northeastern side of the Salt Lake Valley, and flows from Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake.

The Westside Studio brings together the College of Architecture + Planning at the University of Utah with University Neighborhood Partners, NeighborWorks, the City of Salt Lake, local residents, and other stakeholders to identify assets in Westside neighborhoods, develop proposals for building upon these assets, and work towards implementing the proposals through collaborative envisioning, advocating, and demonstrating with the goal of enhancing the vitality and vibrancy of Westside communities. Current studio work includes developing a greenway network that strengthens the relationship of the river and the city and ties destinations meaningfully together.


2011: Westside Greenways: Jordan River Community Connections
Working in partnership with community organizations and Westside residents in particular, the Studio created a future framework for the neighborhoods surrounding the Jordan River in Salt Lake City. These recommendations aim to strengthen greenway connections between residential centers, commercial centers, and the Jordan River. The studio capitalized on neighborhood assets to create a vision for a vibrant community.
For pictures from this studio’s final presentation, click here.

2009: Neighborhood House Garden Project
The Neighborhood House teamed up with the Department of City + Metropolitan Planning in an effort to revitalize unused property owned by the Neighborhood House. The goal of the garden project was to create healthy social and environmental connections. These connections facilitate a productive and interactive space for the Neighborhood House clients as well as the surrounding community. The resulting design plans included flower and vegetable gardens, outdoor pottery studios, fruit trees, riparian areas, outdoor classrooms, and a mosaic of community art installations.

2006: Jackson Neighborhood Plan and Youthworks Workshop
Salt Lake Neighborhood Housing Services asked the Westside Studio to develop a master plan for the Jackson Neighborhood and produce a design for a Youth Works Workshop in the Guadalupe Neighborhood. The Studio conducted a Design Workshop focusing on the direction of the Jackson Neighborhood and the needs of the Youth Works Workshop in cooperation with other students representing other West Side community groups. Utilizing the information collected during the community Design Workshop, the Westside Studio students developed designs for a Jackson Neighborhood Master Plan and the Architectural Design for the Youth Works Workshop working in consultation with NHS and University of Utah faculty.

This is a full width text block. Click the edit button to change this text.

This is a boxed content block. Click the edit button to edit this text.