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Landscape Architecture Professors Provide Guidance to Town of Section, Alabama

Faculty and students within the Master of Landscape Architecture Program have completed the development of the long-term visioning process, including a framework for sustainability and zoning ordinances, for the town of Section, Alabama.  Section is a community of about 700 people, perched on a perfectly beautiful lip of Sand Mountain. The Tennessee River is a beautiful silver ribbon winding through the wide valley below. Change is headed to Section as inexorably as the river: The nearby town of Scottsboro is growing in its direction; the Tennessee Valley Authority recently announced the reservicing of a nearby nuclear power facility that may bring thousands of workers; and the town itself is about to issue its first new sewer permits. Altogether, these pressures could spell disaster for the way life has been lived here for more than a hundred years.

The Town of Section, in partnership with Auburn University, applied for and was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to research and develop a plan for sustainable growth. ARC supported this project as part of its goal to develop and improve Appalachia’s infrastructure to make this region economically competitive.

Landscape architecture professors from the Auburn University College of Architecture, Design and Construction, Michael Robinson and David Hill, were the grant’s principal investigators. Along with a robust crew of graduate research assistants from the Landscape Architecture program, they worked closely with the Town of Section in a participatory process to: draft a zoning ordinance, develop a sustainable rural design plan, identify cultural, recreational, architectural, and business projects that will form an identifiable anchor for the community’s progress, and develop a website as a public record of the sustainability and development framework of the project. 

In order to expand the dialogue broadly across the region, the design team developed an interactive website to present the proposals to the town.  This website not only offers the community the opportunity to explore the design strategies at their own pace, but also offers a platform for community members to fully participate in the dialogue with comments, questions, and suggestions.  Visit the website at: