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Practice : Winter 2010
fEaTuRE ] solaR dEcaThloN landscape is a very “social” art in which practitioners of this a rt have to deal with a living media. His De sign I course, which introduc ed beginning students to the architect ure of outdoor spac e, incorpor ated ideas of environmental design and ecological appreciation, a nd set the stage for the interdisciplinar y nat ure of the studio work. curriculum of Engagement To accomplish this, a key strategy of many teachers is to use a re al client situation, rather than a case study, to help students appreciate the multiple forc e s operating in any design or planning operation, e ither encouraging each student to employ a real situation of their own choosing, or by providing a client for whom the class a s a team can work out solutions. Last year Margie Coffin Brown, a historical landscape architect, h ad her st udents cre ate a Cultural Landscape Report for Rolling R idge, a large property in Andover MA that wa s de signed by Fletcher Steel in 1916, and now serves as a retreat and conference center. The R olling R idge studio provided an opportunity to learn the methodolog y of de veloping a cultural landscape report while studying an intact, but neglected, Fletcher Steele l andscape. The student’s work also served as a catalyst for preservation efforts for this remarkable l andscape. Gina Foglia, LEED, AP, partnered her Design IV Studio students with the Bay Farm Montessori School in Duxbury. Overdue for a master plan for their campus, but unable to expend resources for profes- sion al time, the He ad of School, Site Committee, and Board of Trustees all agreed to engage with the students over the course of one academic year. “Gina and her students worked closely with our entire community,” explained Kevin Clark, Head of School. “ They visited our school multiple times, meeting with students, tea chers, parents , s ta ff and our Board of Trustee s. Within short order this group of people came to rea lly understand our school, our community, our culture a s well a s the surrounding environment. Their final products were dead-on correct for who we are as a school.” These projects, a c ertificate requirement which e st ablished from the beginning, prepare LI students for their capstone certificate requirement, the Independent Project. Producing the “IP” over the course of a year begins with a proposal approved by Jea n Cavanaugh, Coordinator of IP development, a long with the student’s chosen advisor. For many students, the proje ct involve s a profe ssional commitment to a client, which may be the board of a non-profit, municipal official s, or a s chool committee. Beyond satisfying the require- ments for earning a certificate, the IP c an develop into a contract for work, a leadership role on a town board or commission or a preser vation initiative, or launch a c areer. Ala n Emmet’s 1977 Independent Project, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Changing of a Land scape was published by the GSD’s Landscape Architecture School, providing her with the credential s to create historic landscape reports for SPNEA (Historic New Engla nd) as well as the National Trust, all the while writing articles about gardens. Her 1996 book, So Fine A Prospect, wa s published by The University Press of New England, a nd is a substantial, well-re searched contribution to Ne w England’s garden and design heritage. Sally Naish ’s 2009 Independent Project began with a charrette for all the constituents of MAB Community Services in Brookline. She spent the rest of the year developing a Master Plan, a process nece ssitating many meetings and incrementa l decision s. Her IP earned her a certificate in Landscape Design, and her work for MAB continues on a consu lting basis. students in Richa rd churchill ’s field botany of NE cl ass, maine 32 pRacTIcE