Jacob Lyons Wins Third Place in the 2020 Steel Design Student Competition

Jacob Lyons, BArch 2020, won third place in the 2020 Steel Design Student Competition, awarded by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), for his design titled Pesce Plaza.

The competition recognizes eighteen exceptional projects, in two categories, that explore a variety of design issues related to the use of steel in design and construction. The 2020 ACSA/AISC Steel Design Student Competition challenged architecture students to design an “urban food hub.” Students explored ways to incorporate food production and distribution into an urban setting.

Located along the Plank Road Corridor in Baton Rouge, Pesce Plaza is “an educational urban food plaza, community garden center, public park, farmers market, and micro-culinary school that emphasizes healthy cooking and propagation with local fish and vegetation,” according to the project overview.

“I am so excited that my 5th year final architecture studio project was announced as selected by the elite organization ACSA,” Lyons shared. “My entire college career was dedicated to finding my own vision and design individuality, which led me to explore many different design fields, including: urban design, architecture, landscape architecture, graphic design, and marketing. Pesce Plaza was the first project I was able to fully have design freedom, allowing me to integrate all aspects of my diverse design background into one project.”

Pesce Plaza is a compelling design with an art to the presentation that is understated,” the competition jurors commented. “There’s a buildable practicality of the proposal which makes the elements on the plans believable. The drawings are beautiful, simple and clear. The student’s successful solution tackles the design problem head-on with a clear step by step process. The project shows a clear understanding of steel structure with beautiful execution.”

Faculty advisors were assistant professors of architecture Kris Palagi and Soo Jeong Jo, and instructor Tara Street.


William Doran Awarded Grant to Design for People with Disabilities

William Doran portraitWilliam Doran, BArch alum and former LSU architecture professional in residence, was awarded support by The Deborah J. Norden Fund 2020 for the project “Sheltered: Evaluating the Potential for Design to Shape Policy Toward the Goal of Inclusive, Intentional Communities for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities.” With colleague Chris Starkey, Doran will visit and study enclave communities for adults with Intellectual and developmental disabilities across the country.

“I’m excited to share that we won a travel grant through the Architectural League of New York to study spaces for adults with disabilities across the US!” Doran said; he works for Duvall Decker Architects. “We’ve been working with a non-profit that provides housing and services to adults with mental disabilities, to execute their master plan. We’re currently building some of the houses laid out in the plan and made the grant proposal to support our work with further research.”

Doran and Starkey will document and study spaces for individuals with IDDs across the United States – both privately and publicly-funded enclave communities and their “in-community” counterparts. The team has spent the last four years working with the Baddour Center on the creation and execution of their master plan, and, through this work, has discovered a rich set of common issues across the care provider network. Though urban design and architecture play a major role in policy, there is a paucity of architectural research on the impact of the federal definition of HCBS settings and deinstitutionalization. A study of these policies and places is a starting point for an important cross-disciplinary dialogue.

“Well-merited honor and great opportunity,” said Alkis Tsolakis, dean of the College of Art & Design.

The Deborah J. Norden Fund, a program of The Architectural League of New York, was established in 1995 in memory of architect and arts administrator Deborah Norden. The competition awards travel grants of up to $5,000 to students and recent graduates in the fields of architecture, architectural history, and urban studies.

Andrew Wright Won 2020 ASLA Student Award

Aerial view of Bonnet Carre spillway

Time Series Proposal, by Andrew Wright

Andrew Wright, MLA 2020, received a 2020 American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Student Award for his project titled “The Siltcatcher: A Sediment-Capture System for Wetland Creation and Coastal Protection in Western Lake Pontchartrain.” Brendan Harmon, assistant professor of landscape architecture, was the faculty advisor.

Wright received the honor award for his landscape architecture designs to manage ongoing coastal challenges in Louisiana. “The West Lake Pontchartrain region in southeast Louisiana faces a number of long-term environmental challenges due to climate change and anthropogenic landscape modification, including shoreline retreat, wetland degradation, subsidence, sea level rise, and increased storm surge risk,” he stated.

“In response, the Siltcatcher proposes harnessing deltaic land building processes and sediment-laden discharge from the Bonnet Carré Spillway to create a system of self-sustaining armored wetlands in Lake Pontchartrain capable of keeping pace with sea level rise, providing long-term shoreline stabilization, habitat creation, storm surge mitigation, and recreational, educational, and community-building opportunities for nearby residents.”

“Over the last decade, Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain has seen its composition shift dramatically in the wake of several openings of the Bonnet Carré Spillway, which releases floodwaters from the Mississippi River into the lake,” the 2020 awards jury stated. “Through extensive modeling and iterative testing, the designer developed a system of breakwaters and landforms designed to catch sediment and establish wetland habitats as a natural barrier against sea level rise.”

Developed using hydrodynamic modeling as an iterative design tool, the project fuses landscape architecture and civil engineering methodologies and demonstrates the value of interdisciplinary thinking. The resulting proposal reverses conventional narratives of erosion and loss and instead “creates a space where the life-giving poetry of deltaic land creation” could be witnessed, enjoyed, and celebrated.

Kevin Benham, assistant professor of landscape architecture, Mike N. Dooley, P.E. Professor, Clint Willson, LSU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Robyn Reed, assistant professor of landscape architecture, were credited as project support.


DDes Candidate Nasrin Iravani Wins 2020 International Integrated Design Camp

Nasrim, patterned background

Nasrin Iravani, DDes Candidate

First year Doctor of Design candidate Nasrin Iravani attended the 2020 International Integrated Design Camp supported by Korea Institute of Design Promotion (IIDC), which was held virtually this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 camp’s annual theme was “Design Against Pandemic” – tasking participants with the challenge to design solutions for current global concerns.

“My experience of meeting and working with many international design leaders and brilliant fellow students in comparative and intense environments was amazing,” Iravani said. “Also, it was my honor to be selected as one of a few students to speak during the closing ceremony.”

Participating students with various majors and nationalities were assigned to 11 teams, approximately 80 students. Team #9 (Iravani was a team member) was selected as the winner of the camp.

The participants at the IIDC 2020 design camp investigated the political, social, economic, behavioral, and personal changes emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. The teams at IIDC 2020 proposed designs of products, systems, and services that can effectively help to prevent and end similar catastrophic events.

Digital art professor Hye Yeon Nam recommended Nasrin to participate in this year’s camp. She previously recommended Shei Gothico (BFA 2019) to participate in last year’s camp in Seoul, South Korea in June 2019. “The camp is a great learning opportunity for design students,” Nam said.

Participating students with diverse backgrounds worked in teams under the guidance of professional tutors from global companies and organizations. The teams investigated existing and foreseeable struggles related to the pandemic, and delivered solutions using integrated approaches that may be performed in real life.

Zoom screen of team members with text "Alpacas win the virus!"

2020 International Integrated Design Camp Team 9

Nasrin’s team designed solutions for reopening elementary educational institutions, centering around the theme of alpacas. The proposal included wristbands to monitor students’ health, “smart” digital alpaca stations, and themed visual cues to promote social distancing throughout school spaces.

See project overview.

“My experience of this ten-day online camp was amazing,” Iravani said. “Professor Nam, thank you for encouraging me to attend to this camp which was a great first step of my path here at the College of Art & Design.”

Kevin Benham Won Rome Prize 2020-21

Kevin Benham

Kevin Benham

Kevin Benham, assistant professor of landscape architecture, has been awarded the prestigious Rome Prize 2020–21 fellowship to advance his research on transhumance.

The American Academy in Rome (AAR) awards the highly competitive fellowships to support advanced independent work and research in the arts and humanities. This year, fellowships were awarded to twenty-two American and two Italian artists and scholars, who demonstrate excellence in their respective fields.

“I will research herd migrations in Italy and reevaluate transhumance through a contemporary ecological and urban lens by deploying a series of landscape interventions integrating rural elements (sheep or other herbivores) into the urban environment,” Benham said.

“Transhumance is a historically important type of livestock grazing that has existed as a landscape strategy for millennia. In Italy, it involves the seasonal movement of herds (mainly sheep) in southeastern Italy between regions in Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, and Puglia. Routes of this historical practice, known today as the Shepard’s Track, are identified as UNESCO World Heritage sites. These historical routes act as ecological corridors for the dispersal of plants and animals and lead to greater biodiversity.”

Benham holds the Jon Emerson/Wayne Womack Design Professorship at the Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture. His research and work focuses on landscape phenomena and the temporal qualities inherent in the discipline. To that end, he produces temporal and ephemeral installations that elucidate phenomena requiring careful observation through space and time.

He has exhibited his conceptual work throughout the world, including exhibits at the Royal Institute of British Architects, London, England; CUBE Gallery, Manchester England; Zurich, Switzerland; New Orleans, Louisiana; Scottsdale, Arizona; Sweden and Italy.

“Congratulations, Kevin! This is a well-merited honor!” said Alkis Tsolakis, dean of the College of Art & Design.

Rome Prize winners are selected annually by independent juries of distinguished artists and scholars through a national competition. The eleven disciplines supported by the Academy are: literature, music composition, visual arts, architecture, landscape architecture, design, and historic preservation and conservation, as well as ancient studies, medieval studies, Renaissance and Early Modern studies, and modern Italian studies.

Benham is one of two scholars awarded the prize in landscape architecture this year. Nationwide, 1,031 applications were received from 46 US states plus Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and 15 different countries. The ages of the winners range from 29 to 59. Winners will each receive a stipend, workspace, and room and board for a period of four to seven months at the Academy’s eleven-acre campus in Rome. Given the impact of COVID-19, the 2020–21 residential fellowship season will begin in January and end in August.

Haley Blakeman Named ASLA 2020 Fellow

Haley BlakemanHaley Blakeman, assistant professor of landscape architecture, was named a 2020 Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). ASLA has elevated 19 members as Fellows this year “for their exceptional contributions to the landscape architecture profession and society at large,” according to the ASLA.

Election to the ASLA Council of Fellows is among the highest honors the ASLA bestows on members and is based on their works, leadership/management, knowledge, and service. Blakeman was nominated in the “Leadership/Management” category by the ASLA Louisiana Chapter, for her meaningful career in landscape architecture.

Blakeman has spent her career advancing the profession at every level: community, city, state, and national. During her ten years in leadership roles at the Center for Planning Excellence—a nonprofit honored with ASLA’s 2009 Olmsted Award—she dedicated her work to resiliency in climate change.

In Louisiana, she has led essential work in over 25 communities. She developed policies and implementation projects advancing complete streets, from the city of Covington to impoverished, rural Madison Parish. She was instrumental in making World Landscape Architecture Month a global initiative. Blakeman’s service to the profession and ASLA for over twenty years, especially in her position as vice president of communications, has amplified the profession’s collective voice.

“Now as the Suzanne L. Turner Assistant Professor at LSU, Haley teaches students—and especially women and minorities—how to be champions for those without a voice, and about the critical role that landscape architects can play in mission-driven work,” the ASLA stated in the Fellow announcement.

Blakeman has a progressive view of the role of landscape architects as community leaders. She “is passionate about providing opportunities for civic engagement, strengthening neighborhoods, empowering residents to improve their environment, and fostering incremental shifts that add up to big changes,” she said.

“Congratulations Haley for being nominated by the LA Chapter of ASLA and being selected as one of the ASLA 2020 Council of Fellows. It is quite a rigorous process,” said Bruce Sharky, professor of landscape architecture.

She was recognized as one of Baton Rouge Business Report‘s “Forty Under 40.”