If you find yourself enjoying downtown Gainesville in the next few months, thank Elizabeth Lawandales.

Lawandales, a senior landscape architecture major from Alpharetta, is working with Gainesville’s government and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government to re-design Gainesville’s downtown into a pedestrian-friendly hub of commerce and culture.

“The students get to take theory, apply it and see how it works and get immediate feedback,” said Danny Bivins, a downtown development specialist with CVIG.

While Lawandales will spend the summer working to broaden Gainesville’s narrow sidewalks, her tools are pencil and paper, not shovel and Quikrete.

Landscape architecture students design public spaces that “cater to the people” as studio sketches, Lawandales said. At the end of the summer, she will submit a report to Gainesville’s Community Development Director Rusty Ligon.

All of this is part of the Downtown Renaissance Fellows program, a 10-week effort to “revitalize [Georgia’s] downtowns,” Lawandales said.

After four years of studying in a five-year program, the College of Environment and Design’s landscape architecture students can apply to make their mark on a Georgia town. Two other students, Kristi Korngold and Quynh Pham, are working in Porterdale and Milledgeville, respectively.

Lawandales described her field as both functional and creative.

Her love of art and nature led her to “stumble upon” landscape architecture.

By taking these steps to improve the Gainesville community, Lawandales said she appreciates the easily-accessible aspects of downtown Athens.

She added that the Athens-Clarke County government is working with the College of Environmental Design to create a master plan to even further improve the streets of downtown Athens.