Most of us are familiar with ASLA national and chapter awards for landscape architecture. Did you know that the Society for College and University Planners (SCUP) awards “Design Excellence” prizes to landscape architecture projects? Selected by a jury of industry professionals, the award-winning projects showcase exceptional planning and design work being done by landscape architects engaged in the realm of higher education campuses. This year, for the Campus Planning & Design PPN’s annual post for The Field on SCUP award highlights, we feature work at the University of Pittsburgh, by DAVID RUBIN Land Collective. I spoke with Founding Principal David A. Rubin, FASLA, and his University project partner, Mary Beth McGrew, to learn more about this transformative project.
Pittsburgh is a city of hills and rivers, and home to the University of Pittsburgh, affectionally known as “U. Pitt.” The Hillside District of U. Pitt comprises more than 400 vertical feet of grade change over a 68-acre site. The steep topography of Hillside distinguishes it from the lower, more urban campus. Despite the dramatic setting, Hillside lacked a strong sense of place or identity before the framework plan. A series of capital projects at U. Pitt brought increased visibility to the challenges of siting buildings that needed to navigate significant grade change, with the accompanying challenges of circulation, access, drainage, and connectivity between the upper and lower parts of campus.
When the University of Nebraska-Lincoln asked for ideas to reimage a greenspace that would honor four U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture from Nebraska and reflect the historical and agrarian legacy of East Campus, the Olsson Studio and University steering committee decided to take it a step further.
Our team opted to design a space that would become an experience for students and faculty as well as for members of the greater Lincoln community. We wanted to create a space that was welcoming and useful that would give the university flexibility in terms of programming. Thus, every decision made was done through the lens of creating a unique and memorable experience for those who will use the space, engage students, and showcase the natural beauty of East Campus.
Legacy Plaza is located on UNL’s East Campus surrounded by the Food Industry Complex to the south, Dinsdale Family Learning Commons to the east, and the Nebraska East Union to the north. In 2013, the campus master plan identified the project as an opportunity to invest in civic infrastructure by creating “memorable, symbolic open spaces.” In addition, then-Vice Chancellor Ronnie Green challenged Campus Planning to use this 6.5-acre tract of land to honor four U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture from Nebraska. In doing so, the department wanted to integrate the space into the campus landscape and honor the agriculture roots of East Campus providing a home for the statues honoring the former Secretaries and naming the greenspace Legacy Plaza.
Former conceptual visioning plans sat dormant for four years. When renovations began on the Dinsdale Learning Commons and the East Union, the Legacy Plaza project suddenly had new life.
That’s when the Olsson Studio entered the picture.
Congratulations to this year’s SCUP 2021 Excellence in Landscape Architecture winners! This national award is given annually by the Society for College and University Planning to recognize outstanding campus design and planning projects. ASLA’s Campus Planning and Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) celebrates our colleagues who are working in the higher education environment.
Jury’s Choice Award for Outstanding Achievement in Integrated Planning and Design
Wellesley College 1998 Wellesley College Master Plan and Implemented Projects Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates; Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects (MSME); Elizabeth Meyer; Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design, Inc.; H Plus Incorporated
Excellence in Landscape for General Design
Fairleigh Dickinson University FDU Spirit Bridge Viridian Landscape Studio; BEAM Ltd.; Maser Consulting; ICI Consultants, Inc.; Roofmeadow; Bruce Brooks Associates; Big R Bridge
Excellence in Landscape for Open Space Planning
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Virginia Tech Infinite Loop and Green Links Sasaki; HG Design Studio; Accessibility Consultants, Inc.
[See the Campus Planning and Design PPN’s summer 2019 newsletter for a member spotlight of Jack Rosenberger, ASLA, Campus Landscape Architect at Virginia Tech.]
We wanted to dig a little deeper into these fantastic campus projects, so for this Field post, we (virtually) sat down with principal Tavis Dockwiller, ASLA, and project manager Victor Trujillo of Viridian Landscape Studio of Philadelphia, PA, to learn more about their FDU Spirit Bridge project.
Since the late 2000s, a landscape transformation has been underway in Midtown Atlanta that aims to restore nature and her benefits within the city. On the west side of I-75, the Georgia Institute of Technology has been implementing a core component of a vision established in its 2004 Campus Master Plan: an 80-acre green corridor called the EcoCommons. While the pandemic quieted student life through the better part of the last year, the University forged ahead in its realization of the EcoCommons on 7 acres of land adjacent to the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design. Recently completed, the landscape aims to provide a setting for learning, examination, and reflection, while becoming a model of ecological regeneration in an urban setting.
The vision for the EcoCommons is to restore a native Piedmont ecosystem, integrating smart technology to monitor this ecologically performing landscape, and serve as a living laboratory. A historical examination of the site revealed important insights that informed the design and further contextualized the objectives. From the 1930s to 2019, before becoming the EcoCommons, the land was ecologically unproductive, consisting of surface parking spaces and one-story buildings. However, beneath the contemporary veneer lay important stories that reflect both historical events and perspective.
by Dawn Dyer, RLA, ASLA, Kaleen Juarez, and Mia Lehrer, FASLA
The University of California, Irvine (UCI) has embarked on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to holistically re-imagine the campus’ open space resources, collectively referred to as Naturescape. The UCI Naturescape Vision was completed in 2018 to optimize the interconnected open spaces on the 1,500-acre campus to serve and enhance research, teaching, community engagement, wellness, and sustainability, and to reflect and capitalize on the region’s unique human and biological heritage.
In 2019, Studio-MLA led a six-month multi-disciplinary design effort to generate a Vision Plan to guide future development of campus connections and transform the campus’ central open space, Aldrich Park, into a thriving botanical garden. The design team included Grimshaw and Sherwood Engineers. Through a collaboration with the UCI Naturescape Advisory Committee, the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, and the Physical & Environmental Planning Department, the Naturescape Vision Plan defines an innovative landscape-led approach to campus growth and development. The Plan builds the campus’ unique sense of place by completing “missing links”, extending the ecological spokes of the historic radial campus design into the surrounding protected natural areas, and works with community partners to create thoughtful connections to regional trails (Figure 1).
The central idea of the Vision Plan characterizes the campus as arboretum and living laboratory. With more than 24,000 trees on the 1,500-acre campus, UCI has been recognized as a Tree Campus USA since 2010. The Vision Plan builds upon this legacy by looking at succession to encourage diversity of species, increase canopy for shade, and reduce the heat island effect. The campus as arboretum becomes a pillar for the campus as living laboratory. The Vision Plan creates a framework for the campus to provide new opportunities for health and wellness, research, teaching, and interdisciplinary cross-pollination of the arts, engineering, and sciences.
Over 150 years ago, the nascent profession of landscape architecture was championing the intersection of public health and the design of our cities and landscapes. Frederick Law Olmsted argued convincingly for the necessity of large urban parks where residents of all social classes could connect with nature, breathe fresh air, and engage in recreation. However, it’s only been over the last couple decades that the effects of spending time in nature have been examined in a more rigorous manner, and the benefits have begun to be analyzed and quantified. Particularly in the area of mental health, the myriad of ways that contact with nature contributes to our health and well-being has been validated by numerous scientific investigations.
In the article from Stanford University re-posted below, researchers describe the Stanford Natural Capital Project and their plans to create a new software platform called InVEST that will help designers incorporate mental health considerations into the development and design of public parks.
Those landscape architects in the field of campus planning and design are probably familiar with the growing evidence that there is a mental health crisis among students on our college campuses. “A 2015 National Collegiate health assessment found that 37 percent of college students they surveyed felt so depressed within the last 12 months that they had difficulty functioning,” says Don Rakow of Cornell University’s School of Integrative Plant Science. “It also found that 59 percent felt overwhelming anxiety.”
In this article from Cornell University, Don and his colleagues at Cornell are piloting a Nature Rx (prescription) program to use the renowned natural beauty of the campus landscape and surrounding open spaces to “somehow mitigate the prevalence of psychological problems among the large and diverse student body.” The initial success of this initiative has led to a book highlighting the value of Nature Rx programs and profiling four different programs in American colleges.
Over the past four decades, the United States has experienced 241 distinct climate and weather-related disasters, each incurring over $1 billion dollars in damage. From catastrophic wildfires and landslides in the West, to hail storms and tornados in the Midwest, to unexpected freezes and destructive hurricanes in the Southeast, these events are becoming more common and more expensive. While the overall average since 1980 has been 6.2 billion-dollar events per year, the average for the last five years has doubled, to 12.6.
In response to this trend, landscape architects, urban designers, and urban planners are not only embedding resiliency-focused strategies into their work, they are also assessing the performance of their built work in the face of these events. To do this, they are expanding the traditional designer toolbox to include emerging devices that might help with this assessment. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) represent one type of tool currently being tested for resiliency analysis.
Commonly known as drones, UAVs have a complicated history rooted in the military. For over 150 years, they have been used both on the defensive, for reconnaissance, and on the offensive, with predatory exercises. In the last 10 years, though, with the rise of the consumer drone, applications for UAVs have significantly increased. For the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry, many professionals have been experimenting with UAVs to document built work, focusing primarily on marketing and promotional functions.
Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design.
– Dieter Rams
resilience: a capability to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from significant multi-hazard threats with minimum damage to social well-being, the economy, and the environment.
– U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit
As recent hurricane seasons remind us, new global weather patterns continue to wreak havoc at an alarming pace on our neighborhoods and the environment. For thousands of Americans, these storm patterns have caused large scale damage and humanitarian disasters that have had long lasting impacts on communities large and small.
As landscape architects, these issues of resiliency and stormwater management are at the forefront of our thinking. We must rethink new, innovative ways of designing for these large scale, pressing ecological and climatological issues that our planet faces. Our landscapes are in crisis—much of which has been accelerated by human activity. In considering the future of campus design, these issues of resiliency are at the forefront of university campus planning and design. Consider the possibility that this educational typology of landscape design could become a forum for learning and engagement while restoring the environment and creating engaging and unique places just to hang out.
A Holistic Approach to Designing for Resiliency
We must craft resilient designs that will not only enrich the living and working experiences for campus communities, but also prepare colleges and universities to anticipate and respond to an uncertain climate future. Our firm is focused on understanding the science of resiliency and utilizing that as the foundation of the tapestry that is landscape architecture. This integration of science with the social and cultural art of landscape architecture is our challenge—to partner with universities to create learning environments that will thrive for decades to come.
The physical edge between a higher education campus and its neighboring community often serves as a place for tradition, celebration, and the joining of town and gown. However, this is not always the case. Edges can also create a wedge between these two entities through issues such as traffic and parking changes, unsightly views, and changes in the socio-economic structure of the campus surrounds. In recent years American colleges and universities have seen rising student enrollments, exacerbating these issues as the campus built environment rapidly changes and even expands. In response to these forces there has been a proliferated call for collaboration between campus and community, particularly related to the built environment design and planning process.
One obvious place for campus and municipal designers to join efforts is at the campus-community edge, where changes often significantly influence both sides. However, researchers describe that when town and gown work together, there are often dichotomous collaborative efforts where the university is in control. This is especially the case in American college towns, where the physical, economic, and social structure is by nature heavily influenced by the institution. A recent study out of Clemson University explores how collaborative efforts in the built environment design process might serve to make a more even playing field.
Many universities have begun discussions around sustainability and creating a more resilient physical campus. Defining resilience is the first, and often most difficult, step. For many campuses, resilience is defined by developing long-term strategies to respond to climate change impacts. It also may include goals to reduce reliance on precious resources and vulnerable infrastructure. Working toward these objectives is essential to the long-term survival of an institution.
We’ve seen the catastrophic impacts of natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, mudslides, and wildfires within the past year. These events have been a jarring wake-up call for those of us working on campuses. Universities, in particular, are typically rooted in their locations for the very long term. It’s rare for a university campus to pick up and move somewhere else. Therefore, planning for both known and unknown future impacts is a critical survival strategy for any institution that intends to remain in place and operate effectively.
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.”
The URI Kingston Campus is the 1,200-acre flagship campus of the University of Rhode Island (URI), located in the rural town of South Kingstown, Rhode Island. The first of several campuses, the original 140 acres of farmland was purchased in 1888 for the newly chartered Agricultural Experiment Station and Agricultural School of Rhode Island. In 1894, the Boston-based landscape architecture firm Olmsted, Olmsted, and Eliot began to plan the development and organization of the campus, which provided for the base presence of botanically interesting and historically significant trees.
Over the years, several efforts at tree inventory have been initiated, with varying levels of success. In 1989 a former professor and college dean created endowments to support the development and maintenance of the University’s arboretum. A walking tour pamphlet was created that contains information about each significant tree and some of the campus history. In 2004 and 2009, non-digital collections of tree information were developed that help keep track of diagnosed diseases and the history of maintenance applications. The identification tags for the arboretum are different from the tags associated with the ‘04-‘09 inventory data, in that the arboretum tags provide the botanical name, common name, family, and country of origin, as well as the tree number. The ‘04-‘09 inventory tags only indicate the tree identification number.
Duke University (along with me, its resident landscape architect) recently served as host for the inaugural conference of the newly formed Association of University Landscape Architects. For several beautiful, albeit unseasonably warm, days toward the end of April, a group of 25 landscape architects representing 22 universities from across the country joined together to share ideas, experiences, and best practices unique to our niche segment of the profession.
Creating such a group is something I have been pondering for about a decade now. Several of us—landscape architects working on the client side in university planning/design offices—have been running into each other for many years at ASLA Annual Meetings and Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) conferences. We would often find ourselves lamenting the lack of content specific to what we do. We could find a campus tour here and there, and perhaps a couple of pertinent education sessions tucked into an otherwise crowded slate, but the time we would spend together discussing common issues proved most applicable and valuable to our specific work. The idea that we could form some version of an association was floated around at various times and was consistently met with near universal enthusiasm.
MIT’s campus stretches approximately 1.5 miles along the banks of the Charles River basin in Cambridge, MA. Nearly 170 acres in size, and more than 65% impervious, the urban campus is home to about 2,300 trees. MIT’s trees are subject to typical urban stresses: street trees surrounded by pavement, trees framing high-use lawns that host special events (with associated tents, tables, chairs, and logistical support), and soils compacted from heavy foot traffic and pathway desire lines and spill-over.
Technology has without a doubt transformed many of the methods and practices planners and designers use when approaching any project. This is particularly true on college campuses, as the field of education embraces technology to better serve and engage with students. However, there are some negative impacts from immersion in technology. The campus landscape provides an increasingly essential antidote to today’s tech-overload with its ability to facilitate social connection and provide restoration.
Technology in Campus Planning and Design
In addition to functioning as repositories for history and tradition, campuses are typically places that value innovation and creativity. Thus, technology is often embraced and incorporated into campuses more quickly than many environments. Experimentation, learning, and engagement drive the integration of technology into the built environment to test how it might best serve the campus community.
We are also increasingly seeing studies that indicate that excessive technology device use can have detrimental physical and mental health effects such as fatigue, stress, depression, insomnia, chronic pain, and others. See the Illinois News Bureau, Academic Earth, Time, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, USA Today, Harvard Health Publications, and Psychology Today for a few examples. Studies have also suggested that spending time engaging with the natural environment provides an array of benefits that may counteract the negative impacts of technology use, including improved physical fitness, vision, concentration, critical thinking, creativity, academic performance, mood, immunity, and social behavior.
The 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in New Orleans feels like ages ago—and the Call for Presentations for 2017 is already well underway—but for those of us who have been hit with winter snow storms (pretty much every state except Florida), reminiscing about the warm southern hospitality of the Big Easy may be welcome.
This year, the Campus Planning & Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) partnered with the Education & Practice PPN for a joint meeting featuring several PechaKucha-style presentations and discussion on the topic of How has technology changed the nature of the university campus? In addition to some thought-provoking presentations, I found this PPN Live session on the EXPO floor’s City Park Stage to be an improvement over the settings of previous years. We will be posting several of these presentations on our PPN webpage, and will share more detailed presentation summaries here on The Field in the coming months.
This will take place on PPN Live’s City Park Stage on the EXPO floor, and will be open to all attendees, giving greater exposure to some of the innovative work being done in the campus landscape. It will also provide an opportunity to network with landscape architect educators and practitioners that use our campus landscapes as a living learning classroom. For those of you that are not able to make it to New Orleans, we will be posting these presentations on the PPN webpage after the meeting.
Check out this list of events at the Annual Meeting that may be of interest to you:
Campus Planning & Design PPN / Education & Practice PPN Joint Meeting
Saturday, October 22, 1:30 – 2:15 PM
City Park Stage, PPN Live area of the EXPO floor
PPN Meeting Agenda:
Kick off introductions
Presentation 1: The High Efficiency Campus
Lauren Williams, ASLA
Presentation 2: Technology and the 21st Century High-Performance Campus Landscape
Gregory Tuzzolo, ASLA, and Milee Pradhan, ASLA
Presentation 3: Visualizing Campus Activities from 5, 10, and 1000 Feet
Todd Robinson, ASLA
Presentation 4: Campus Constants, Digital Flux
Katharyn Hurd, Associate ASLA, and Andrew Sullivan, ASLA
For those of you able to attend the ASLA Annual Meeting in Chicago this fall, I hope you took advantage of the many opportunities to learn about, discuss and experience great campus planning and design, and network with colleagues. The first day of the conference featured a field session to the University of Chicago. Richard Bumstead, FASLA, and his colleagues led a mix of classroom and on-site discussions that showcased both techniques and results of their sustainable campus management and innovative site design.
Over the next couple of days there were a number of excellent education sessions addressing campus design and planning issues including “Resiliency in University Planning: Risks and Opportunities,” “Collaboration, Preservation, and Pedagogy: Planning and Designing Today’s Academic Campus,” and “A Dynamic Legacy: The University of Washington Campus Landscape Framework Plan.” The ASLA Professional and Student Awards Ceremony recognized one new campus landscape this year: an Honor Award in the Residential Design category for MassArt Residence Hall by Ground Inc. at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Situated along Boston’s “Avenue of the Arts,” the landscape builds on public street life to reshape its public identity, create a new center for student life, and reflect the school’s design focus.
This year’s ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Chicago is almost here and we look forward to seeing many of you there. The meeting is full of social and educational opportunities for those of us involved in campus planning and design. In addition to the events listed below, there are two additional opportunities we have created for those interested in campus planning and design:
Anyone (PPN member or not) is invited to an informal gathering for drinks, conversation, and networking on Saturday, November 7 starting around 6:15 PM (immediately after the Alumni Tailgate) in the M/X Lounge/POI Bar of the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place (2233 South Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive).
Northwestern University Campus Tour: on Tuesday, November 10 from 9:30 AM to noon, Ann Ziegelmaier, landscape architect for Northwestern University, will lead an informal tour of the main Northwestern campus for all who are interested. The Northwestern campus is about a 45 minute trip via public transit from the downtown hotels. Although reservations are not required, please RSVP if you think you may attend for additional details.
This past summer, our profession lost one of its greatest champions and collaborators. Our dear friend and esteemed colleague, Peter Lindsay Schaudt, passed away unexpectedly on July 19th, 2015, at his home in Villa Park, Illinois. He was 56.
An architect by training, a recipient of the Rome Prize and a protégée of the legendary landscape architect Dan Kiley, Peter brought to landscape design a focus on research and history and a deep love of learning. An American Institute of Architects award-winner for collaborative achievement, Peter was best known for his ability to work with a broad range of architectural practices, which he often likened to a lifelong education. Throughout his career, Peter’s talent for collaboration was invaluable to the success of each project within his diverse portfolio. This was most evident in his academic and campus work.
Peter strove to create coherent, dynamic and timeless landscapes at every scale. A patient visionary, Peter emphasized the importance of maintaining a long-term relationship with campus clients, knowing that a cohesive landscape is best formed over time. Carefully cultivating and nurturing relationships throughout the country, Peter’s ability to build and maintain trust earned him the opportunity to implement multiple projects at a campus over an extended number of years.
Due to their size and relative autonomy, universities are like small cities, and like any city, they have a significant environmental footprint. They control large and permanent areas of land and inventories of buildings and are among the top employers in many cities. As such, they are major commuter destinations. If we compare the attributes of complete, walkable neighborhoods to many university campuses, they typically fail by basic metrics. In complete communities, people can: live throughout their lives, work, access a range of services, and enjoy social, cultural, educational, and recreational pursuits. Most campuses are exceptionally job-heavy but have limited residents on or near campus. On-campus housing typically includes some student dormitories, and sometimes student family housing, but staff and faculty and many students typically have to commute to campus. In terms of providing day-to-day services that everyone, including workers and students need, again they fail. Students living on campus and daytime workers often have to travel off campus for basic services and entertainment.
Town and Gown developments, or residential communities on or adjacent to campus, can help to make the university more complete as a community by adding a greater diversity of residents, as well as services and entertainment for the whole campus population. The objectives of such developments are often threefold: 1) to raise revenue to support the university enterprise, 2) to attract permanent residents to campus and thus reduce commute trips, and 3) bring services and night life to campus, thus adding more completeness and vitality.
Wesbrook Place is one such neighborhood, located adjacent to the University of British Columbia’s main campus. Wesbrook Place was intentionally designed to be a compact, complete, and walkable neighborhood. The design is also intended to strengthen the University’s identity and to improve the overall campus vitality. The first plan was adopted in 2005 and the first residents moved in by 2008. At build-out, it is projected to house 12,000 people on a 45-hectare site, and as of 2014 it was 25% complete, with an estimated population of 3,100 residents.
Traveling by bicycle is the one of the easiest ways to traverse the sprawling University of California, Davis campus. Located in the Central Valley of California, the campus is topographically flat and weather is mild—perfect for bike riding. Average annual rainfall in Davis is 18 inches, therefore it is a rare day when you cannot easily get to your destination by bike. With 900 acres in the core campus and another 4,400 acres for agricultural and other natural science research fields, this growing campus with a current student population of over 33,000 is too spread out for walking alone to provide an efficient mode of transportation for most. The campus core area is generally closed to vehicular traffic, significantly enhancing bicycle safety. There are hourly bike traffic rushes during breaks between classes. During that time delivery and facilities vehicles are required to yield the right of way to thousands of cyclists or risk a ticket from the campus police.
In the summer of 2014, one acre of a five-acre vehicle parking lot was reconfigured into a 600-space bike parking lot serving a gymnasium that was converted into a large lecture hall. This project was designed by CPLA and funded by TAPS. The design involved rethinking and redesigning all modes of transportation in the area to safely and efficiently accommodate the anticipated influx of cyclists. Circulation design for bike lanes, bike paths, bike circles, and bike parking throughout campus is a major component of the CPLA Unit’s workload. Typically CPLA deals with four major bike design situations on a regular basis.
Congratulations to those landscape architects, teams and campuses that are winners in the 2014 Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) Campus Awards Program in the Landscape Design and Planning categories. The goal of the program, started in 2001, is to recognize excellence in higher education and its resultant physical environment. In 2013, there was a slight uptick in the number of submissions under the planning (20) and landscape (19) categories. This year, there were 22 submissions under the planning category and only 14 submissions in the landscape category.
The 2015 Call for SCUP Excellence Award Entries will open October 1, 2014. I encourage all of you to start thinking about which landscape and planning projects you’re going to submit for the 2015 program.
In the meantime, following is a list of the 2014 SCUP award winners in the four categories of Landscape and Planning.
Earlier this year, the office where I have worked for 5 years—Campus and Community Planning—was restructured to include a new division called Campus Programs and Animation. This group of people is responsible for supporting the University of British Columbia’s strategic priority of making our Vancouver campus more vibrant. My first reaction was “Hmmm—I thought we (the landscape architects) were doing that!”
We absolutely are doing that—creating the spaces and landscapes that are essential to a vibrant campus. But we don’t do it alone. Making the campus more vibrant involves leveraging public space, campus landscape and infrastructure investments with cultural and social assets to develop strong community programs and create extraordinary campus experiences. Real success requires a concerted effort by many individuals. With the goal of creating unforgettable and extraordinary campus experiences, landscape architects do create the platform and unique opportunities for meaningful intellectual, social, and cultural experiences and interactions. The design and programming contributions of other professionals, staff and the users themselves help us fulfill this goal.
Following are a few images—and a really fun video clip—showing the fruits of those efforts here at the University of British Columbia.
Landscape architects—and I include future ones in this group—seem obsessed with cities these days. Urban projects are all over the place at conferences and in design magazines, and even more predominate in related social media and the blogosphere, to the point that it makes me wonder if we all really just want to be urban designers. Of course there are legitimate and good reasons for this focus, such as the fact that more work is becoming available in cities as people migrate back from the suburbs, and high profile urban projects give landscape architects greater exposure on the media map.
Even so, I do worry a little that this preoccupation with big city landscapes may limit the perspective of students and young professionals to just how vast and diverse this profession really is. Although I won’t address all the possible career paths for landscape architects here, I do want to point out a specific and important segment of landscape architecture that rarely gets much attention: the campus landscape.
Perhaps it is just the passing of 20 years but I don’t have much recollection of the campus where I got my degree in landscape architecture. I have happy memories of plant identification tours around the University of Guelph campus with Professor Lumis – but not any strong memories of what it looked like or felt like. This contrasts with my fond memories of the University of Toronto campus where I received my undergraduate degree – its ivy-covered buildings, the broad lawn of King’s College Circle and the quad at University College to name just a few. My recollection of the important role that the campus landscape played in creating positive and memorable experiences now helps inform my role as Campus Landscape Architect for the University of British Columbia.
Sometimes it helps to step back and actually think about what we are doing – in our profession and at our schools and universities. Landscape Forms periodically hosts landscape architects to do just that. This year I participated in a group that went to Arizona and discussed the issues facing our campuses and their landscape future. Sharing with peers is certainly one way to test and take stock of what we routinely do on a day to day basis.
The result of the meet-up was a White Paper on Campus Planning. The themes addressed included the following:
Sustainability: Addressing energy use, resource conservation, maintenance, and adaption of structure and spaces over time.
Preservation: Renovating and repurposing existing structures and spaces including “places of memory.”
Growth: Accommodating institutional growth and high-cost, space intensive research facilities.
Technology: Providing infrastructure for new learning and innovation made possible by universal access.
Collaborative Learning: Creating spaces that support collaboration within and between disciplines, among individuals and across diverse populations on campus
While one and a half days was not enough time for great depth in any one of these subjects, it was enough time to share different experiences and impressions about the present and ultimately the future, to agree, to disagree, and to possibly learn something new. The world of technology is changing the way business is done so quickly, it stands to reason that our need for information exchange should try to keep up. Maybe one way to do that is simply more “old fashioned” talking.
If you have specific problems or issues that you or your campus is struggling with, I encourage you to think about organizing other round table discussions, either in person or electronically. I would venture to guess that if you are grasping at how to find the new paradigm, so are your peers.
by Cathy Blake, Chair of the Campus Planning and Design PPN
For those of you who have been contemplating the connections between sustainable campus planning and landscape design; then wondering how the rating systems relate…this is for you.
Mark Hough, ASLA, Duke University, has written an article that is posted in the April 2013 issue of College Planning & Management that discusses the differences between LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES), their strengths and weaknesses relative to campus work, and their potential for the future. I for one had never really taken the time to understand what Mark has so easily laid out. While my focus still continues to be on whole campus planning, systems, issues, and sustainable problem solving – as opposed to site-specific thinking and scoring – I agree that there is much to be learned from both LEED and SITES.
Curtin University, in Perth, Western Australia, has embarked on a massive urban renewal project focused on creating a “knowledge city”. Code-named Curtin City the project will deliver a new population of students, researchers, and residents of up to 70,000 people living and working in Perth’s newest knowledge economy. Connected to the city by the MAX light rail transit, Curtin City will be only minutes from downtown Perth, enabling the rapid exchange of business and research ideas.
The Curtin City project is a bold step for the University as it plans for a new future of high-density research and living within a strong landscape urbanism framework. Building on existing distributed energy systems and green infrastructure networks the campus will be transformed by 2030 as Perth’s urban population grows to 3.5 million.
Earn PDHs / CEUs while learning design principles for creating effective nature play spaces.
Arbor Day Farm, Nebraska City, NE, July 21-24, 2013.
With the heightened awareness of nature deficit disorder and biophobia, it is important for landscape architects and designers to connect children with nature through the design and construction of effective outdoor play spaces. Study our research-based principles for designing environments that encourage whole-child development and positive relationships to nature.
Please join us for this four-day institute, held at Lied Lodge’s world-class facility, surrounded by the natural beauty of Arbor Day Farm. The Institute will be led by experienced designers and educators from Nature Explore and The Outdoor Classroom Project.
Earn 13 Professional Development Hours for the Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System. Visit the Nature Explore website to learn more and register.
by Chad Kennedy, Officer for the Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN