(Baton Rouge) – Officials from the Louisiana Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism will visit a graduate design studio at the LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture this Friday Nov. 21 at 9 AM to review the students’ semester-long project on the historic River Road and how best to preserve and revitalize it in the face of change and growth.
The studio project began at the beginning of the fall semester under the direction of associate professor Kristi Dykema. Second-year graduate students in landscape architecture began studying and observing River Road. In early October they produced three-dimensional exhibits that incorporated objects and artifacts they collected on River Road. The exhibition was shown at the Louisiana State Museum and will again be on display for several days in December.
For the past six weeks, the students have been working on the second phase of the project – a 20-by-50-foot drawing of River Road that serves as a site documentation. It shows the historic course of the river, as well as the infrastructure, railroads and roads. Each student also produced two models that explore future design proposals for River Road.
“We wanted to create the drawing as a piece of site documentation that can be used by planners in the future,” says Dykema. “We didn’t want to tie it in too tightly to the students’ individual site plans.”
The ultimate goal of the project is to gain federal status for River Road as a national scenic byway, a process which will likely take years. The National Scenic Byways Program is a grass-roots collaborative effort established by the U. S. Department of Transportation to help recognize, preserve and enhance selected roads throughout the U.S.
The Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s Center for Planning Excellence is interested in getting that distinction for River Road. It tapped the Reich School of Landscape Architecture to help facilitate the project, which involves numerous community organizations. As part of the process, the graduate students have led roundtable discussions with stakeholders who have an interest in River Road, its present and future. Their discussions have covered such topics as traffic, industry, recreation and the environment.
“This has been a wonderful opportunity for our students,” says Dykema.
The Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture is consistently rated one of the best in the country. Last year, both the graduate and undergraduate programs were ranked No. 2 in the U.S.