The effort, naturally, has raised concerns about pushing out the poor and homeless. McCormick, though, says "it's not about cleaning the space — it's about making the space welcoming to everyone": the disenfranchised, yes, but the rest of the swirling city, too.

In the conference room, Ellen Driscoll, the sculpture professor overseeing the class, takes a break while a student sets up a projector — he'll present an inspired plan for lighted bricks leading pedestrians from the bus station into the park, its trees illuminated by hanging lights.

"Our hope," she says, "is that we'll actually be building some of these things." And soon.

The class runs just six more weeks.

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