The graduate community design studio focuses on landscape planning and design at the community and neighborhood scale, emphasizing relationships of uses, transportation and infrastructure, green infrastructure, public services, and a mix of housing and commercial types. In the Water Studio, students investigated urban water infrastructural systems and their role in the city of Houston, looking at the development of the potable, waste, and stormwater systems. Houston faces a number of issues surrounding its relationship to water, such as periods of drought, aquifer depletion, subsidence, flooding, catastrophic storms, enormous industrial demands, and a fast-growing population in need of clean water. The first half of the semester, students explored the three infrastructural systems, looking at how the geography, technology, and regulations/economics all contributed to the development of the systems. The students produced a series of maps, technical drawings, and sectional studies to show these relationships. In the second half of the studio, the students developed design proposals for a potential Museum of Water for Houston. They looked for ways to engage the public in a dialog about these critical but often overlooked issues relating to water infrastructure in the urban environment. The students formed a critical response to these issues and developed a strategy for the site selection, formal/material language of the design, and program of the museum.
Through a progressive series of interrelated weekly readings, lectures, design exercises, field trips, and guest lectures, students in Marie M. Bickham Chair Kathleen Bogaski’s fall 2016 graduate landscape design studio explored water systems management , with an emphasis on stormwater management in arid environments using a real project with the Water Conservation Authority (WCA) in Los Angeles County as the primary focus of their work throughout the course.
Through the study of stormwater management principles and components, best management practices in managing and utilizing stormwater as a resource, and environmental equity, students were introduced to the challenges and opportunities of water system management at both the watershed and site scale. Students explored issues related specifically to urban environments, green infrastructure development, retrofit and a variety of crucial issues such as growing potable water demand, flooding, aquifer depletion, drought conditions, and water quality in arid environments.
The Urban Systems studio explores different design approaches to developing urban parks and open-space systems in cities. Urban scale analysis of open-space systems and their conditions is conducted, resulting in an open-space strategy for the urban environment. Individual components of the system are designed at the site scale to introduce typical issues involved in urban open-space design and implementation.
The spring 2015 studio looked at the urban landscape of New Orleans as a vehicle for design speculation on the infrastructure of open space and water management. Work was focused on the development of a Metropolitan Parks Strategy for the City of New Orleans. Students investigated how the urban landscape of parks and open space can be designed and/or retrofitted to optimize its performance: socially, ecologically, and economically. In the political and economic context of Louisiana, there is an urgent need to find solutions to the provision of future landscape infrastructure that is both achievable and effectively addresses future urban resilience. Starting from an understanding of the existing urban landscape and its infrastructure, students developed a strategy for the future development of parks and open space within Orleans Parish. The proposals were tested against the existing framework of regulation and policy as well as models for best practice.
Retreat: New Orleans Park System
by Kelli Cunningham
In negotiation of a reassessment of funds and development of the New Orleans park system, this scheme took a stance on the broader unavoidable context of resettlement of the city as a whole. New Orleans is a city 49 percent below sea level, and the viability of the city as a whole must be considered in re-envisioning the park system. The shrinking tax base of a sprawling city cannot support improvements to any park at the current scale of the system. This scheme uses topography as a means of restructuring the footprint of the city, but is in no way absolute. The scheme must interact with the current political context of the city of post-Katrina New Orleans. The idea that people have a right to return to their homes, even at an unsafe elevation, outweighed the ideas of social justice and long-term city resiliency. This system subdivides the city based on topography into three conditions for redevelopment, densely settled low ground, sparsely settled low ground, and high ground. This scheme uses parks as temporary water storage in flash events, also creating a place for water to go in longer term flooding conditions. In doing this, economic market mechanisms are used to encourage redevelopment of settlement in the high ground, densely populating safer areas of the city and allowing for decreased infrastructural pressure. This will, over the course of several decades, condense the footprint of the city and allow for a more reasonable tax base for the viable high ground.
This advanced graduate design studio aims to establish a site plan for the newly appointed World Heritage Site, Poverty Point Louisiana, in the Mississippi River Corridor. The studio considered impacts of intervention on this historic site as a source of design expression and ethical preservation, where design proposals become part of a sound argument for the sites ecological and cultural resources. The design for the landscape itself should be distinct, with defining experiential qualities. Designed intentions should be read as artifact.
Third-year Master of Landscape Architecture students in Associate Professor Austin Allen’s advanced topic studio worked with the North Baton Rouge community and the adjacent city of Baker to reimagine the Baton Rouge Zoo. Keeping in mind the community’s concern about the economic loss that could happen in an already depressed area, the students proposed keeping the zoo in its current North Baton Rouge location. The project incorporated urban design strategies, such as water management and economic development in North Baton Rouge and the city of Baker.
Baker Recreation Hub
presented by Inhwa Park, Ramneek Bajwa, Wenjie Zhang, and Ziding Liu