The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Gulf Research Program, or GRP, recently announced awards to five universities, including LSU, for the creation of interdisciplinary architectural studio design courses that engage with the unique features of the Gulf of Mexico region. Traci Birch, assistant professor of architecture and managing director of the LSU Coastal Ecosystem Design Studio, now offers a new course, called Grand Isle Studio: Exploring Barrier Island Design, about coastal resilience and nature-based risk reduction strategies.
Grand Isle Studio: Exploring Barrier Island Design draws heavily from ongoing coastal research, engaging researchers from across the campus around issues of coastal resilience. A fall studio and three related spring courses will focus specifically on barrier island conditions – from land loss and storm impacts to extreme population and tourism expansion. Projects will draw students and faculty from architecture, landscape architecture, civil/coastal engineering, and coastal ecology to collaborate on design strategies.
“The course will engage faculty and students from across the LSU campus, and in particular the College of Art & Design and the College of Engineering, to address issues of coastal settlement, resilience, and protection in the Louisiana coastal zone,” Birch said.
Birch (the course director) and associated LSU faculty Clint Willson, College of Engineering; Kris Palagi, School of Architecture; Nicholas Serrano and Brendan Harmon, Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture had the opportunity to work with the NAS GRP Thriving Communities program under the associated four-year research grant – Inland from the Coast (IFC). Led by the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio (CSS), the project, which focused on building resilience to inland flooding, provided the initial framework for the new course.
The goal of this class is for students to explore, expand, and integrate their knowledge of ecological, social, and infrastructural systems to guide design development. “This Grand Reduction design studio will address architectural permanence in an environment of continual transformation, while encouraging imagination and design innovation for the good of the ecosystem,” Birch said.
The culmination of this work will be an inter-disciplinary installation in the Clark and Laura Boyce Gallery in the Design Building for student, faculty, community members project advisors, and experts; as well as high quality studio books by each class for information dissemination to the public.