URSP currently does a summer studio overseas in two out of every three years. In the summer of 2014, several students are working with Professor Emeritus Sidney Brower on a studio project in Litha Park, an informal settlement on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. The students met with community leaders there; first, to obtain permission to work in the area, and then to identify the problems residents would like the students to address. These were crime, fire danger, open space, and unemployment. Assisted by members of the Community Organization Resource Center (an NGO) who provided introductions and translation (most residents spoke only Xhosa), students had a number of meetings with residents in one of the shacks to discuss concerns and possible courses of action. They identified public programs directed at these problems, but these could only be implemented in the long term and the problems were of immediate concern, and so the students proposed a series of actions that residents could initiate immediately, by themselves or with minimum assistance from an NGO or the government. About 60 people attended the final presentation.
In the summer of 2012, several URSP students teamed up with some students from Historic Preservation. Architecture and Real estate Development – along with several architecture students from St. Petersburg State University -- to create a development plan for the ‘Gasholders Site”, a former industrial area close to the city’s commercial and historic center. One of challenges was to plan for the rehabilitation and reuse of two historic buildings on the site so as to retain their historic features. Another was to transform a collection of disjointed land parcels into vibrant neighborhoods that extend the historic fabric of Saint Petersburg. A third was to develop a business plan for the redevelopment effort. There will be another St. Petersburg studio project in the summer of 2015.