At the Provost Awards Reception on Tuesday, October 13, 2015, José Gámez, Associate Professor in the School of Architecture, was presented with the 2015 Provost’s Faculty Award for Community Engagement.
Since joining the UNC Charlotte faculty in 2002, Dr. Gámez has been committed to creating facilities and neighborhoods that serve the needs of all members of the community, especially those who face the greatest challenges in finding healthy places to live and work.
Through the Community Planning Workshop that he co-teaches with Dr. Janni Sorensen of the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, José has had an impact on some of Charlotte’s most threatened neighborhoods. Through the development of neighborhood action plans, the workshops teach students to engage and understand contemporary multicultural cities, introduce the idea that design can serve to catalyze an inclusive public realm, and develop reflective and engaged civic leaders. Because he emphasizes a community-led process, his approach aims to match students’ need to learn with the pressing needs of our most challenged neighborhoods. He encourages students to see design as a transformational activity that addresses power dynamics and inequality.
One of the most wide-reaching of José’s projects is the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Initiative, a 14-county, two-state (NC and SC) regional planning effort focused upon the development of sustainable urban design guidelines for the region. Through extensive community workshops and public engagement activities, the overall project aims to build consensus among both stakeholders and the general public around issues of growth, quality of life, and sustainable development. This regional planning policy initiative will shape the direction and quality of growth in our region for decades to come.
José’s current collaboration with Carlos Alexis Cruz in the Department of Theatre has resulted in MAX, a deployable mobile arts, organizing, and performance space. This project extends his work in arts education, diversity, social justice, and community engagement by fostering arts-based social capital building initiatives. MAX is the only mobile arts space of its kind nationally to be used as a multipurpose mobile pop-up lab and performance venue. The MAX project represents the largest arts-based gift in UNC Charlotte’s history.