Landscape Architects’ Favorite Spots on Campus

Harvard Yard / image: Lance Katigbak via Flickr

Taking a look back at our 2016 Professional Practice Network (PPN) survey, the first question asked members to think back to their time as a student: what was your absolute favorite spot on campus?

The most popular responses—the quad, the student union, and, no surprises here, the studio—highlighted places central both to all students’ experiences, and spaces of special significance to future landscape architects. Besides the studio, nearly all responses touched on outdoor spots, from arboreta on campus to duck and turtle ponds and residential courtyards.

Perhaps the most interesting subset of answers might be those given by the Campus Planning & Design PPN members, as the campus specialists. Here are their top picks for favorite campus locales:

Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Kansas State University

Harvard Yard – “Old version, not new redone one.”

Hornbake Plaza, University of Maryland

“Intimate, off the beaten path seating area, surrounded by walls.”

“Spot on quad for people watching.”


The banks of the Providence River at RISD

The UW-Madison Memorial Union Terrace

“The various under-traveled pedestrian ways.”

The University of Wisconsin-Madison's Memorial Union Terrace on Lake Mendota / image: Richard Hurd via Flickr
The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Memorial Union Terrace on Lake Mendota / image: Richard Hurd via Flickr

Below, we highlight other special places on campus picked by ASLA’s PPN members.

University-Specific Favorite Places

Christy Woods, Ball State University

Court of North Carolina, North Carolina State University

Dexter Lawn, Cal Poly –“The people watching was phenomenal.”

Dexter Lawn, filled with students, at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA / image: Robert E. Kennedy Library at Cal Poly via Flickr

Durfee Conservatory, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Fisher Fine Arts Library (Furness Library), University of Pennsylvania

Forum patio, Grinnell College

Founders Garden, University of Georgia

Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, University of California, Los Angeles

Gorge running through campus, Cornell University

Fall Creek Gorge, part of the Cornell Botanic Gardens in Ithaca, NY / image: Justin Ennis via Flickr

Horsebarn Hill, University of Connecticut – “Overlook of campus.”

McKeldin Mall, University of Maryland

View of Lake Mendota from the hill next to the Observatory, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Muir Knoll, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Military Walk and the Academic Building Area, Texas A&M University

Mirror Lake, The Ohio State University

Old Main Lawn, Penn State University

Passion Puddle, Rutgers University – “A large bowl-shaped green space with mature trees.”

The University of Kansas / image: Brent Flanders via Flickr

Quad outside the library, Iowa State University

Strawberry Creek, University of California, Berkeley

The Diag, University of Michigan

The LA studio in the old dairy barn, Texas Tech University

The Lawn, University of Virginia

The University of Virginia’s Rotunda, located on The Lawn / image: Craig Fildes via Flickr

The Oval, The Ohio State University

The shady quad west of Lawrence Hall, University of Oregon

The turtle pond by the biology department greenhouses, The University of Texas at Austin

The west end of Bosco Student Plaza, Kansas State University

Theta Pond, Oklahoma State University – “Very nice aquatic environmental in the dry plains.”

Thornden Park, near Syracuse University

ASLA 2010 Professional General Design Honor Award. The Brochstein Pavilion at Rice University, Houston, TX. The Office of James Burnett / image: Paul Hester

Plant-Specific Favorites

“An open wooded spot with big trees and Rhododendrons.”

Carpinus caroliniana in front of school of natural resources.”

“In the UMASS arboretum standing at the base of the huge Liquidambar styraciflua.”

“Redwood grove of trees along a creek that flowed through campus.”

“Sitting under the large, mature Ostrya virginiana. It was in a semi-secluded area.”

“The circle of large conifer trees in front of the student union.”

“The grove of oak trees in front of Lehotsky and the P&A buildings.” – Clemson University

“The Mall, with all healthy elms arching over the space.”

“Under a large old Oak, that looked out onto large courtyard (good for people watching).”

“Under the 100 plus year old trees on North Campus at the University of Georgia.”

“Walkway between 2 dorms w/ canopy of mock orange trees.”

ASLA 2012 Professional General Design Honor Award. Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus — New Academic Complex, Mesa, AZ. Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, Inc. / image: Bill Timmerman

Other responses touched on key features and certain recurring places, without naming the specific institution:

Quads & Courtyards

“A campus green lawn with sun and shade.”

“A plaza outside the campus library under a tree on a sunny day.”

“Hanging out by the central fountain by the student center.”

“The busiest courtyard/crossroad path.”

ASLA 2014 Professional General Design Honor Award. Salem State University – Marsh Hall, Salem, MA. WagnerHodgson Landscape Architecture / image: Robert Benson

Gardens & Arboreta

“Botanical conservatory.”

“The campus arboretum.”

“The greenhouses.”

“The sculpture garden; the arboretum was a close second.”

“The small formal gardens adjacent to the graduate school.”

Studio space at the end of the semester – there is a Mayline drafting table under there somewhere. / image: Alexandra Hay

Campus Nooks & Crannies

“A hidden courtyard referred to as the ‘secret garden.'”

“All the places you’re not supposed to go (rooftops, gorges).”

“A quiet courtyard off the beaten path.”

“A small amphitheater near the library.”

“Balcony outside the studio, 3rd floor.”

“Cloistered garden with microclimate, protected from wind.”

“Our own built cubicle around our drafting table.”

“Smallest residential courtyard.”

“The cozy library with a great view of the campus and lots of places to plug in my laptop.”

ASLA 2015 Professional Residential Design Honor Award. MassArt Residence Hall, Boston, MA. Ground Inc. / image: Chuck Choi

At the start of 2016, a questionnaire was sent out to members of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs). To create the questions, we opened the survey-making process to our PPN leadership, asking each group to contribute one question that would then be shared with all 10,000+ collective PPN members. Responses were varied, and included many insightful comments and suggestions. Synopses of the survey results were originally shared in LAND over the course of 2016, and we are now re-posting this information here on The Field.

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