In Spring 2018 a studio of fifth-year architecture students, led by Professor Deb Ryan, developed a "Millennial Plan" for Charlotte. Their plan is a vision for the future of Charlotte that is based on research into Charlotte's history, research of best practices in other municipalities, and input from Charlotte residents, with particular focus on the "millennial" generation. Ryan and the architecture studio received a grant from the Knight Foundation to carry out their project, which they called #ShapeCLT. The students conducted their research and developed their initial plan in 13 weeks, then presented to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Planning Commission in May 2018. Over the summer, the students refined their plan and created a book-length report that details their research process and findings and their recommendations.
On November 5, two of the students, Alexandra Wagner and Robert Brooks, presented the "Millennial Plan" to Mayor Vi Lyles and the Charlotte City Council at the City Council meeting.
The #ShapeCLT project was inspired several things: 1) In 2015, data from the U.S. Census Bureau demonstrated that Charlotte was the #1 city in the country that attracted millennials, with a net migration of more than 10,000 newcomers in that age group that year; 2) In 2016-17, the City of Charlotte began rewriting the zoning ordinances and developing a Unified Development Ordinance; 3) In 2017, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force issued its report on economic mobility in the city, along with a series of recommendations.
Based on studies, surveys, and community engagement activities, the class came up with eight overarching concepts for their vision of Charlotte's future. Supporting their vision, they present 23 specific proposals. Among those proposals are free public Wi-Fi, linear parks, a green building mandate, free public transit, and a "music masterplan."
Recently, the city began writing a Comprehensive Plan, the first to be created in 40 years. "My hope is that the students’ work can contribute to the process and Millennials’ youthful and courageous perspective will find a place in Charlotte’s future vision," Ryan says.