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Archive for the ‘Campus Design’ Category


In one session at the ASLA 2012 Annual Meeting, “Landscape as Sponge: Re-engineering a Historic Campus to Absorb the Rain,” Nicole Holmes, Nitsch Engineering, and Robert Rock, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA), explained the ways landscape design plays an integral part in Princeton University’s 2008 Campus Plan.

Holmes described how the evolution and expansion of the Princeton campus have impacted hydrology. Most significantly, explosive growth over the past century has led to buildings creeping into the ecologically sensitive zone along Lake Carnegie, to the south of campus. With Princeton’s recent decision to only expand only within existing campus boundaries, the university is faced with the challenge of how to grow without compromising its character or ecology.


Thankfully, with its 2008 Campus Plan, Princeton took a progressive stance toward planning. According to Holmes, “for the first time, landscape became a critical part of the planning process.” Instead of trying to remove water as quickly as possible, or maintaining the status quo of slowing and detaining stormwater, Princeton aims to improve conditions by viewing water infrastructure as a campus amenity.

To improve the campus stormwater system, Princeton looked to the campus’ pre-development conditions. Before development, most water infiltrated into the ground or was dispersed through evapo-transpiration. Since development, the vast majority of stormwater became runoff. Integrating landscape design and stormwater into the campus plan, Princeton aims to reduce its impervious cover, preserve open space, and reduce runoff. To accomplish these goals, it calls for stormwater management to be integrated into landscape-based solutions.


Robert Rock, MVVA, showed examples of his firm’s efforts on the campus. Rock described their work on the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment as an “intricately co-mingled landscape and building project.” Faced with the challenge of integrating a 60,000 square foot building into a relatively small site, the project required an intense collaboration between landscape architects, architects, and engineers. The resulting design is a layering of landscape and building, using green roofs and highly designed soils, ultimately exceeding stormwater goals for the project.


For the Frick Chemistry Building, MVVA had to address a site that had problems with runoff, stream bank erosion, and water quality. The architects working on the project proposed the building be sited adjacent to existing woodlands. Instead, at MVVA’s urging, the building was pushed back, allowing the woodlands to expand and avoiding potential impacts. Stormwater on the site is collected and directed into rain gardens, enabling the removal of two of the three existing outfalls into the nearby stream and dramatically reducing erosion. Additionally, pedestrian pathways are included in this landscape design, improving the human experience of the site.


These examples at Princeton University demonstrate the power of integrating landscape design and landscape-based stormwater solutions into the master planning process. By using landscape as infrastructure, communities can not only become more efficient, but also ecologically and aesthetically vibrant.

This guest post is by Ben Wellington, Student ASLA, Master’s of Landscape Architecture Candidate, Louisiana State University and ASLA 2012 summer associate.

Image credits: (1) Princeton University (2-5) Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates 

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In the heart of Seattle, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the wealthiest private foundation in the world, with assets of more than $34 billion, opened a new campus with little fanfare last year. Winning a rare LEED Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, the building is a model of integrated design. Symbiotic landscape and building systems harvest rainwater, reduce potable water use, maximize solar use, and minimize energy use overall. Native plants, local materials, and “natural processes” were used by the architects, NBBJ, and landscape architects, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN), throughout the site. 

Working with the Gates, GGN replaced a parking lot with a man-made landscape inspired by Seattle’s natural setting. Design partner, Shannon Nichol, ASLA, said: “The materials and functions of the landscape are informed by the site’s distinct natural history, as a dark-watered bog in a plateau meadow that absorbed and filtered rainwater.” But here, perhaps the less-appealing aspects of the natural bog have been omitted. A plush campus landscape, filled with native plants like blueberries and Big Leaf Maples, surround a central courtyard said to “float” in a water gardens filled with reeds and cattails.


Rainwater is smartly captured and reused on site by two acres of green roofs. Any runoff from paved aspects of the campus are channeled into a “million-gallon cistern,” which fills the water gardens and is used to irrigate the site. GGN says these technologies were crucial to achieving the LEED Platinum rating: “These systems, along with efficient plumbing fixtures, reduce the campus’s potable water use by nearly 80 percent, saving approximately two million gallons of potable water per year.” The site now minimizes potable water use in the landscape, with the eventual goal of completely eliminating potable water use for irrigation.


The campus buildings also use 25 percent less energy than code requirements, incorporate recycled and local materials, and provide ample sunlight to the foundation’s employees and visitors.  


Another nice aspect of this project: The campus gives a boost to the streetscape of downtown Seattle. Keeping the city’s grid in place, the Gates Foundation improves the public street design, perhaps offering visitors a preview of the careful design extended into the visitor’s center, which offers exhibits for the Seattle community and tourists.


Nichol believes the campus manifests in landscape form the Gates’ mission: “The environmental qualities of the campus landscape are the natural outcome of designing for the Foundation’s strong philosophy of ‘local roots and global vision’.”

Learn more about the campus and watch a fly-through.

Image credits: (1) Timothy Hursley, (2) Sein Airhart / NBBJ, (3) Sein Airhart / NBBJ, (4) Sein Airhart / NBBJ, (5) Gustafson Guthrie Nichol

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The Sierra Club’s magazine, Sierra, issued its 2010 rankings of the 100 greenest schools. According to the magazine, the index is meant to measure a school’s commitment to sustainability and includes a range of indicators, such as: energy efficiency, food, academics, purchasing, transportation, waste management, administration, financial investments, and a catchall section titled ‘other initiatives.'” This year, Sierra weighted energy efficiency more heavily, which caused significant changes to the top tier in comparison with the 2009 list.

The school sent a 11-page questionnaire to 900 schools and universities and more than 160 responded. On their methodology, Sierra writes: “Although we worked hard to apply rigorous, objective standards when evaluating the questionnaires, a certain amount of subjectivity was inevitable, and we hope that readers (and the growing legion of college sustainability officers) will bear that in mind. The point, after all, is to create competition, to generate awareness, and to celebrate that so many colleges even have a sustainability officer.”

All the schools seem to be integrating innovative features like campus-based renewable energy systems and composting toilets into their campuses and environmental curricula. All schools have some sort of sustainable landscape program aimed at ending the use of chemical fertilizers and sustainably managing water.

Some ambitious schools are aiming for carbon neutrality. Others like College of the Atlantic have actually accomplished net-zero.

The top ten schools are: 

1. Green Mountain College Poultney, VT
Sierra says: “GMC excels in most categories, and it’s the MVP when it comes to creativity. The campus gets power and heat from biomass and biogas (a.k.a. cow power) and plans to be carbon-neutral by next year.” Learn more about the college’s new $5.8-million biomass facility that runs on locally-harvested wood chips.

2. Dickinson College Carlisle, PA
Read Dickison’s overall strategy for becoming carbon neutral by 2020.

3. Evergreen State College Olympia, WA
Learn more about Evergreen’s 1,000-acre sustainable campus, which includes 800 acres of woodland, gardens, a beach, and organic farm.

4. University of Washington Seattle, WA
Check out the University’s guide to environmentally-sustainable facilities services, which is part of the campus’ broader climate action plan.

5. Stanford University Stanford, CA
“Stanford’s $225 million Global Climate and Energy Project focuses on diverse cutting-edge technologies to help lower carbon dioxide emissions.” Check out the comprehensive “Sustainable Stanford” site, which outlines the school’s climate action plan and goals for a range of areas.

6. University of California, Irvine Irvine, CA
On UC Irvine’s 1,400-acre campus, grounds administrators have “adopted numerous environmentally sound practices, such as recycling plant waste into mulch, reducing fertilization, and implementing water savings measures.”

7. Northland College Ashland, WI
 Check out campus initiatives in sustainable landscaping.

8. Harvard University Cambridge, MA
Harvard is also now using compost to restore the soils on campus, ending its use of chemical fertilizers (see earlier post).

9. College of the Atlantic Bar Harbor, ME
The school says it became the first carbon-neutral campus in 2007.

10. Hampshire College Amherst, MA
The college’s 800-acre campus features a number of LEED-certified buildings.

Check out the top 100 green schools and other campus sustainability resources schools can tap. See other major green school rankings, The College Sustainability Report Card and The Princeton Review.

Schools that didn’t make the cut should consider signing-on to and implementing the guidelines of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

Image credit: Green Mountain College Woodchip Biomass Energy Plant / Matte Network

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The University at Buffalo (UB) and New York Power Authority (NYPA) announced Walter Hood, ASLA, a leading landscape architect, won a public art competition to design a 1.1 megawatt (MW) solar array, which will be constructed on the university’s campus by NYPA. Fast Company says the installation is designed to “make solar energy beautiful.” According to UB, the 5,000 photovoltaic (PV) panels in the installation will generate solar energy for 735 student apartments and help reduce the university’s CO2 emissions by 500 metric tons per year.  

Hood calls his concept “The Solar Strand,” a reference to linear landscape formation and the way pairs of molecules entwine to form a DNA strand. Hood said: “Like a DNA fingerprint, solar panels would be codified and arranged to show how much power is captured/generated and where it is used.”

The solar array, which will line UB’s Flint Road entrance, is designed to integrate art and engineering innovation, and environmental sustainability. UB President John B. Simpson said: “The university sees the project as more than an energy-producing facility — we envision this as a significant land art installation that will complement the Buffalo Niagara region’s already significant reputation as a destination for world-class art and architecture.” The university will also include the new landscape in its research and academic programs on sustainability and green technologies. 

Hood said his design creates a new “patch ecology” that will merge with existing creeks and campus woodlands. The university writes: “Oaks, maples, redbuds and ground covers would be planted along with ornamental species like linden and malus (small deciduous trees or shrubs of the crabapple family) to provide microclimate and display.” Hood will also use low-maintenance sustainable grasses like bent grass and red fescue in “strands or striations to recall the site’s agricultural past.” Hood adds: “the landscape development reinforces the campus as a whole by connecting the tree canopy and the larger hydrological morphology.” 

Fast Company thinks the installation will also facilitate social interaction.”Nestled among them will be three ‘social rooms’–outdoor spaces defined by hillocks and ponds with added seating that blends into the land.” The university writes that each social room will feature “retention/detention swales and ponds adjacent to the towering panels, and seating, lighting and other furnishings will facilitate outdoor use.” Additionally, the recreational and educational spaces will be connected via trails and paths to a visitor center, and other facilities.

The campus solar project is a part of NYPA’s $21 million renewable energy program. Under the program, the university received a $7.5 million grant. The university says the project will be the largest solar installation on a “college or university campus in New York State and one of the largest on a college or university campus in the United States.”

Read the article

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harvardsoil
What began as a one-acre pilot project has turned into a 25-acre initiative. Harvard University is now feeding its campus soils with compost and compost tea instead of pesticides and synthetic nitrogen. In comments to The New York Times, Wayne Carbone, Harvard’s landscape manager said: “Our goal is to be fully organic on the 80 acres that we maintain within the next two years.” 

Harvard’s president, Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard’s president has set the university’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target — 30 percent by 2016. According to The New York Times, Faust was “intrigued” by the Harvard Yard Soils Restoration project, and thinks it’s a key part of the broader campus sustainability plans. Faust told The New York Times: “The lumps of soil showed how grass grew when treated with chemical fertilizers and how it looked when treated organically. You could really see the root systems and how different they were. And I saw the impact, I was really excited.” 

Harvard’s grass is literally greener due to the microbes now feeding the soil. Additionally, roots now reach eight inches into soil that “was once so compacted the trees planted in it were dying.” Harvard’s soil was compacted by the enormous amounts of foot traffic it receives from some 6,000 to 8,000 people daily. Microbial activity aerates soil, and trees are now thriving, writes The New York Times. The new organic soils may also yield water and cost savings. “The university has reduced the use of irrigation by 30 percent thus saving two million gallons of water a year.”

Eric T. Fleisher, the director of horticulture at the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, worked with Harvard’s landscape team on the original pilot tests. Michael Van Valkenburgh, FASLA, a professor at Harvard, also advised Dr. Faust and the landscape team.

Read the article and go to Harvard’s mini online tutorial on organic landscaping.

Image credit: Jodi Hilton, The New York Times

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ando
SWA Group won a master plan and landscape architecture design competition focused on improving the sustainability of the 247-acre (100-hectare) campus of the University of Monterrey in Mexico. The project will include a site-design for the Tadao Ando-designed Art and Design School Building. Tadao Ando won the 1995 Pritzker Prize.

According to the news release, SWA Group will help make the campus more walkable and bikeable, designing a shift from a “vehicular orientation to one that encourages pedestrian, bicycle and transit use.” Focusing on the broader sustainability of the campus, the plan calls for the use of “indigenous plant materials, natural water-retention and filtration, low maintenance landscaping as well as site-design strategies to enhance the learning and collaboration among students and faculty.”

The master plan aims to site Tadao Ando’s structure, called the Gate of Creation, a $34.5 million project encompassing 94,000 square feet (8,719 square meters), which includes “spaces for design, research, teaching and exhibition, as well as 22 laboratories and workshops.” Rene Bihan, SWA Group’s San Francisco Managing Principal said: “We will be working with the architect and the university to provide a proper landscape backdrop to what is considered one of the most significant architectural buildings in all of Latin America, while also helping the university move its campus to a higher level of sustainability.”

Read the article, and learn about another SWA Group project in Monterrey — the Monterrey Open Space Master Plan project. SWA Group has won numerous ASLA professional awards, including a 2009 award of excellence for its Buffalo Bayou project. Also, see more drawings of Tadao Ando’s Gate of Creation.

Image credit: Tadao Ando, Gate of Creation / University of Monterrey

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kutamba
Project H (product design initiatives for humanity, habitats, health, and happiness) has completed its pilot ‘learning landscape’ project, an elementary playground that uses interactive games to illustrate basic math concepts. The playground is built in a sandbox using reclaimed tires. According to INHABITAT, “The grid system facilitates games that teach addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, along with spatial and logical reasoning.”

The first project is at the Kutamba AIDS Orphan School in Uganda. 
The learning landscape project at Kutamba is the first of many Project H hopes to build in Africa, with at least five more in the pipeline. The Kutamba AIDS Orphan School buildings were built through support by Architecture for Humanity

Read the article
See Architecture for Humanity’s book – Design Like You Give a Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises

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rcwilogo1
Ripon College, a small liberal arts school in Wisconsin, has a parking shortage problem. Rather than pave over more campus with new parking lots, the college’s president has offered first-year students free mountain bikes if they do not bring a car to campus. From the Chronicle of Higher Education article:

The college has purchased 200 Trek bikes to give to a portion of the roughly 300 first-year students that will arrive in the fall. After students sign a honor code, saying that they will not bring a car to campus that year, they get a bike, a helmet, and a bike lock, altogether worth about $400. The program is supported by college donors, trustees, and alumni, and the college got discounts on the equipment from Master Lock and the Trek Bicycle Corporation, which is based 60 miles south of Ripon.

The college also hopes that more bikers will help rejuvenate the shopping areas of the town of Ripon. Best of luck to students biking during those Wisconsin winters!

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hanbury-evans-wright-viattas1
Today’s Architectural Record covers the Association of College & University Housing Officers–International’s (ACUHO-I) “21st Century Project” which investigates college and university housing for students from the present to 25 years in the future. The winning design, “net+work+camp+us,” from a group with Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company, of Norfolk, Virginia, uses prefab units to build adaptable residence halls that can be altered easily for changes in population and even climate.

And since the social networking generation and Millennials are so closely wedding to technology and socializing online, these new halls will include “LED panels on the exterior walls of student rooms, for instance, would allow occupants to customize portions of the building facades according to their personalities….In the courtyard, an oversized LED monitor displays student announcements, class schedules, and even the whereabouts of individuals.”

Click through for more images of the winning project. the 21st Century Project continues next year.

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grist1
Grist, a great resource for environmental news, has released their list of the “Top 15 Green Colleges and Universities.” Topping the list is the tiny College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, that has only one major, human ecology–or “the study of our relationship with our environment.” However, there are several large, traditional schools on the list as well. The Dirt is not surprised that neither of his alma maters made the cut, but invites you to click through and see how your school did!

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