Center for Community Studies

Drury University > Hammons School of Architecture > Center for Community Studies

All HSA students take a community-based studio coordinated by the school’s Center for Community Studies (CCS), the interdisciplinary research and academic outreach component of our curriculum. The mission of the CCS is to assist the regional community in exploring and promoting innovative planning, design, and development practices that respond to the challenges of our contemporary and future society and foster a healthier and sustainable habitat for our global community.

Community studios allow students to work with real community members on diverse design and planning problems, sharpening their skills of listening, facilitation, and communication, and emphasizing the importance of broad community participation in design decisions. For over 20 years, CCS studios have enriched and helped communities throughout our region. Recent projects have included visioning studies in Springfield, Mt. Vernon, Noel, Anderson, Pineville, and Houston, Missouri.

Service Request Form

Project Books


Inquiries address growing capacities for the built environment and build knowledge to inspire change. In times of uncertainty, volatility, and vulnerability, a vital push to shape spaces along paths of resiliency is a new normal in architectural thinking and urbanism. Contemplating natural and man-made exigencies and stressors of climate change, this theme engages in place-based studies with partnering communities to ideate design responses. Ideated solutions aim to mitigate negative impacts and enhance adaptive capacities of environments in preparing for and thriving in times of change.


Vacant and abandoned buildings in cities, towns, and neighborhoods are opportunistic spaces whose conversions with productivity is a way of mitigating resource consumptions in the built environment. The built constructs already embody a total sum of the energy used in their production, which must not be thrown away. Viewed as eyesores, those residual structures are prime for environmental renewal by ways of adaptive reuse, rehabilitation and salvage. This thematic focus of the center advances feasibility studies and performance-based resolutions. The key aim is to materialize embodied energies into synergetic spaces and places for community connectivity and well-being.


Places have transformative power, shape human experience and connect communities. Better places can build healthier communities by ways of restoring and improving the individuals’ and groups’ ways of dwelling and sharing spaces. Grounding in fieldwork observation, empirical knowledge and critical examination of cultural landscapes, the focus develops new ways of seeing and engaging the field as a laboratory to harness capacities and potentials of places. Seeing and learning from uniqueness of places, renewed meanings are conceived to shape positive impacts. At times when divisive spaces tend to perpetuate otherness and grow disparities, places renewed can help connect, reconcile, and heal.


A unified and shared vision that is transcending disciplinary boundaries in its formation is more effective in revitalizing places and communities. Over the past two decades, the center has joined forces with clients and assisted numerous Missouri communities with exploring goals, objectives, and methods for future improvement. Ranging in scale, from city-wide studies, to city center and neighborhood renewals, parks, buildings, and trail studies, projects directly engage communities to better understand their contexts, current needs and anticipated trends. Adopting a triad focus on Resilience, Transformation, and Placemaking, accompanied by collaborative processes, projects reveal visionary futures. They draw solutions collectively to a community’s ongoing challenges, with the community and from within its context. 

CCS Program at a Glance

In the past 12 years, the Center for Community Studies has completed:

  • 54 community projects
  • 34 communities were served
  • 32 of the 54 community projects were in collaboration with the University of Missouri-Extension
  • 19 counties in Missouri were served
  • 21 of the community projects were within the City of Springfield, Missouri
  • 4 of the community projects were for Drury University
  • 8 of the community projects were for the West Central Missouri Community Action Agency
  • 6 of the community projects were funded using ARRA stimulus money
  • 5 of the communities were selected by the State of Missouri as a D.R.E.A.M. Initiative Designated Community
  • 3 of the community projects were funded by Ozarks Area Community Action Corporation (OACAC)
  • 2 of the community projects were for the City of Warsaw, Missouri
  • 2 of the community projects were for the City of Carthage, Missouri
  • 1 Project was for Pratt Institute in New York City
  • Total studio project support received from the community’s to date = $236,990
  • The five D.R.E.A.M. Initiative Communities each received from $3-5 million . . . ($15-25 million in community capacity)

Value to the Communities

During the past 12 years, approximately 380 students have gone through the Center for Community Studies’ Community Studio.  Assuming that throughout the course of the semester each student averaged 20 hour per week on the project that would equate to:

  • 380 students x 20 hours per week x 15 weeks per semester or 114,000 student hours (and this figure is low) 114,000 hours and the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour equals a benefit to the communities within the State of Missouri of $826,500. If we calculate the 114,000 hours at an intern architect rate of $50 per hour that equates to a benefit of $5,700,000.

Another way of assessing the benefit to the communities served is by looking at the monies received by the communities because of the visioning assistance from the Center for Community Studies.  This is harder to calculate completely, but an indication can be determined by looking at six communities:

  • The five D.R.E.A.M. Initiative Designated Communities will ultimately receive anywhere from $3-5 million each from the State of Missouri
  • Randy Pogue, Warsaw’s City Manager, has received $10-14 million in grants because of the involvement with the CCS
  • Therefore, the total amount received by the CCS of $236,990 has/will generate anywhere from $25-39 million worth of design, planning and construction services in just these six communities.
  • That does not include the benefits to the other 48 communities served.