Olsson hosts Student Design Charrette on MLK Jr. Park in Kansas City

Alicia Krieger, Communications

January 23, 2020

Students from several universities got a taste of collaborative brainstorming recently when they participated in a Student Design Charrette hosted by Olsson Studio, in Kansas City, Missouri.


The students gathered in early January to reimagine and revive Martin Luther King Jr. Square Park and Swope Parkway in Kansas City. Students also were challenged to reflect the importance of the civil rights movement and the cultural identity of the corridor along Brush Creek, which runs through the park and adjacent to the parkway.


During the charrette, students worked together to process and analyze large amounts of information, which allowed them to develop a plan to address a diverse range of site issues. Students from the University of Kansas, Iowa State University, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln participated.


“The students that we had in were all great,” said Korey Schulz, team leader at Olsson Studio. “They jumped in and immediately started to work as a team and envision the future of the MLK Jr. Park.”



The event also gave students the opportunity to interact with professionals from Kansas City Parks and Recreation, The Enshriners, and other experts closely involved in the restoration of MLK Jr. Park and Brush Creek. Among the attendees:

  • Richard Allen, landscape architect with Kansas City Parks and Recreation
  • Pat Clarke and Craig Watson with The Enshriners, a group of local businessmen who have contributed to numerous civic projects in Kansas City
  • Mark McHenry, Olsson business development specialist and past director of Kansas City Parks and Recreation.
  • Scott Wagner, Northeast Alliance Together member and 1st District at-large councilmember
  • Cydney Millstein, an architectural and historical researcher who co-authored Hare & Hare, Landscape Architects & City Planners

On the first day, the students were given background on the project sites and current issues affecting the area. They were then provided time to collaborate and draw initial concepts for the park, as well as how the site could be better connected to other areas along the Swope Parkway corridor.


The students made a site visit on the second day, which allowed them to get a feel for the park and to gain a clearer understanding of the spatial relationships along Brush Creek. They spent the rest of the day refining their concept ideas and solidifying program elements. Professional staff from Olsson Studio provided mentoring and guidance.



The morning of the third day was spent adding final touches to their presentation and finishing up graphics to present their final design to Olsson Studio staff and guest reviewers.


Olsson Studio hopes to use the successful event as the first step to build a new internship program.


“We want to do more than what typical internships provide,” Korey Schulz said. “As students expect more, we’ll set our standards high to meet that demand.”