--  2020

Primary Research | Prototyping | Photography

Timeline: 5 Weeks


The Story of Place’s goal was to inform UF students on their effects on the Gainesville, FL landscape. The growth of the university, while inevitable, has uprooted and pushed generations of people who have lived in neighborhoods in proximity to the campus itself. In order to educate students on their long-term effects they have on the city of Gainesville, I created a website. This website acts as a container for 3 interviews and an interactive map. The map explores the macro changes relating to the development and uprooting of historically black neighborhoods in Gainesville. The 3 interviews relate to businesses and spaces that act as Placemakers for both Gainesville citizens and students. By supporting Placemakers of Gainesville, students of UF will not only support local people of Gainesville and venture outside of the UF bubble, but also learn about the experiences and narratives different from their own.




Create a resource for students to understand what it means to live in Gainesville through individual case studies of community spaces and visuals depicting Gainesville's changing landscape overtime.


After living in Gainesville for around 4 years I have seen first-hand how much Gainesville has changed. I began with secondary research based in graduate thesis work. These papers focused on how expanding universities affected the long-standing neighborhoods of those towns. I also did research on place makers and how they create cultural heritage, local history, and sustainable development. The slideshow to the left features data visualizations I chose to keep in mind throughout the process of my project. 

Processed with VSCO with c4 preset


The Cotton Club Museum and Cultural Center was established to preserve the history of Gainesville African American communities. I interviewed Vivian Flier, the founder of the CCMCC and a member of the board of directors. During our Zoom Interview she recalled her personal history relating to the University, the CCMCC's history, and hopes for the future. She provided a valuable point of view of the changing forces of Gainesville by African American citizens. 


Satchel's Pizza is a Gainesville institution. Opened in 2003, Satchel's provides clean food and a welcoming atmosphere for all people. Located on the East side of Gainesville, Satchel's campus feature's installation art, greenery, and play areas for kids. Satchel's has provided the Gainesville landscape with local history and culture-- a great example of a placemaker. I interviewed Satchel Raye the owner of Satchel's and Satch Squared. He thinks about the restaurant's humble beginnings and who makes Satchel's what it is, the employees. 

Processed with VSCO with c4 preset
Processed with VSCO with c4 preset


4th Avenue Food Park features coffee, tacos, live music, and more. The campus located adjacent to Porter's Neighborhood, a historically black neighborhood, works within the landscape rather than taking over the space. I interviewed Tim Larson, co-owner of the Food Park and Opus Coffee. He spoke to me about the building codes and who the city of Gainesville really supports. He hopes for a future where local businesses are supported rather than big builders and chain businesses. 



Much of the homescreen was dedicated to hierarchy. Discovering ways to compose text in ways where viewers can take in key information was the main goal of the homepage. By mixing my information with visuals, like photographs and maps allowed for an opportunity for storytelling.


The placemakers page features gridded photographs of the spaces I wished to highlight. After clicking one of the squares, users are taken to a pop-up page where the interviews are housed.



To tell the larger story of the macro changes relating to Gainesville, I created an interactive map page. This map featured luxury student housing built in the last 5 years, at risk historically black neighborhoods, and the placemakers that I chose to focus on.


A large portion of this project was dedicated to image collecting. I explored historically black neighborhoods like Pleasant Street and Porter's neighborhood and photographed the historic homes there. In order to house all the photography that I collected, I created a photobook that contained those photos along with the entirety of the 3 interviews. 


 ©2021 by Aya Muse Kusumoto