Landscape Architecture Professor Wins National Award for Study of Unique Landscapes

An assistant professor in the LSU’s Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture has received a prestigious award from the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) for her study of three unique landscapes – including New Orleans’ Lower 9th ward – and the people who inhabit them.

Kristi Dykema, who joined the landscape architecture faculty in 2007, received the EDRA/ Great Places award for her project The Landscape Totem: Speculations on Growth and Decay, which examines a community in the post-Katrina Lower 9th Ward, a group of migrant cowboys in the Australian outback and a colony of migrant farmers in California.

“Totems are a way to tell stories through drawings and photographs,” Dykema explains. “So the whole package is primarily visual and describes the way that people have kind of moved into certain landscapes and taken them over.”

While the three landscapes she studied are very different, they all share a similarity in that they are inhabited by people in a state of flux. In her work, she examines the marks these groups leave on the landscapes they inhabit, something she came to know firsthand while living with each of them. Her study comprises the first three chapters of a book she hopes to publish next year.

The EDRA/Great Places Award, which is given in conjunction with Metropolis magazine is one of the most prestigious awards in the field of landscape architecture and recognize professional and scholarly excellence in environmental design. Now in its 12th year, the program is distinguished by its interdisciplinary focus, its concern for human factors in the design of the built environment, and its commitment to promoting links between design research and practice.

The Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture is consistently counted among the nation’s best schools, and was again ranked second in the U.S. last year by Design Intelligence magazine.

“We are consistently ranked in the top five programs in the country because of outstanding faculty like Kristi Dykema and the work they produce,” says Dean David Cronrath, of the College of Art and Design. “It is because of projects and awards like these that our School continues to receive the national recognition it deserves.”