Skip directly to content

APLA’s Involvement with Mobile’s Centre for the Living Arts

Memory Gallery String Proposal Drawings

In 2009, Landscape Architecture Professor Charlene LeBleu had received a Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium grant to study the possibility of low impact development strategies for downtown Mobile.  Through a fall MLA studio, a series of project proposals for a sixteen- block radius of downtown Mobile were developed.  Despite the complexity of the area studied within Mobile, Professor LeBleu said, “The site we kept coming back to was a Dauphin Street lot owned by the Centre of the Living Arts.  There was just something very special about this lot―the “size, form, location.” 


CLA was in transition at that time and not very involved in the 2009 project, however the new director decided to re-investigate the work in the summer of 2011, and asked for MLA assistance.  Professor LeBleu directed a special topics class to do another round of designs focusing on the lot, developing an exhibition and community program space.  Daryn Glassbrook, a development officer for the CLA said that the student designs have been “very helpful with moving forward with the direction for planning the development.”  Mr. Glassbrook said that the CLA is attempting to identify itself as a “beacon for contemporary art in the southeast” and working alongside the students seems to support that effort – he hopes that these efforts are the “start of long term collaboration between APLA and the CLA.”   The CLA has invited APLA to return for another charette on the site in June 2012.


At the beginning of fall semester, 2011,  Magdalena Garmaz’s fifth-year Architecture thesis studio participated in a two-week long charette to develop design proposals for the Memory Project exhibition at the Centre for the Living Arts, Inc. in Mobile.  The Memory Project is an exploration of the universal theme of memory and is part of CLA’s mission to bring a new level of community engagement through the performing and visual arts. The Memory Project ‘s intention is “to investigate different cultural perspectives on the intersection of individual and collective memory through the work of contemporary arts and musicians plus other disciplines such as writing, poetry, storytelling and film.”

While Gamaz was initially reluctant to take on a project that would take time from the students’ individual thesis projects, she decided to initiate the two-week charette because, as she explains, “The values of the Centre for the Living Arts stands for ―its engagement with the community, its bringing together of a number of different constituencies, and the goal of promoting contemporary arts not as a static form but as a living organism ―all of this resonates with our understanding of the role of architecture in today’s society.”

Gamaz also wanted the students to be engaged in a real-life project with real client engagement. “This is a rarity in our curriculum where almost every single design project is a hypothetical one,” says Garmaz. “We also liked the fact that work on the Memory Project exhibition design meant that the students have to carefully negotiate the role of an architectural sub-structure within an art exhibition ―understanding importance of foregrounding the art pieces while at the same time providing clarity and subtlety through architectural intervention.”

APLA students traveled to Mobile to meet with CLA director Bob Sain and his staff and then developed a number of different proposals that were presented to the CLA board in Mobile in September. The Memory Project opened in January 2012 and will continue for nine months.

For more information, please visit: