On a two-story red wall in the middle of the second-floor studios in the Stuckeman Family Building hang an exhibition of landscape architecture student models from the spring semester. The courses, LARCH 312 and LARCH 540: Site and Community Design IV, taught by Barry Kew, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture; Maria Debije Counts, Visiting Instructor in Landscape Architecture; and Christopher Counts, Stuckeman Career Development Professor in Design; introduced students to master planning and community design. Each student was required to create independent site and community master plan design proposals for the course’s selected site, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
Faculty encouraged students in the brief to focus on reinvigorating Bellefonte’s downtown business and residential district, while keeping in mind the borough’s connections with the rail system. The goal of the project was to provide economic opportunities and affordable housing for lower and middle class residents and to improve the quality of life in Bellefonte.
“Bellefonte presents such a fascinating context. It has it all - incredible genius loci thanks to built response to natural systems, a fascinating history, and timely current needs,” explained Eliza Pennypacker, Head of the Department of Landscape Architecture.
With their designs, students were required to accommodate the following: 250,000 square feet of residential space, 100k sq.ft. commercial space, 165k sq. ft. office space, 100k sq. ft. of their choosing based on individual concepts, 100k sq. ft. parking, 20k sq. ft. community center buildings, and 12 acres of public park. In addition, each project addressed designing within a flood plane and was refined and planned to accommodate storm flooding and average rainfall over the next hundred-year period.
These projects aim to serve the town and other as prototypes for 21st century healthy communities – walkable and sustainable. Students conducted studies through community site visits with talking to community members and photographic inventory as well as in-depth studies based on GIS mapping and a variety of other sources. A large physical model of the existing conditions using the CNC router to address how the proposed site designs would be integrated with the site was made as well and is currently also on display on the ground floor of the Stuckeman Family Building. Throughout the semester in the studio, students were engaged in design charettes, discussions, workshops, desk critiques, model-making, drawing, and sketching as a means to study, analyze, and explore innovative design solutions that would address the above requirements for the site and community design.
The course was broken down into three phases: inventory and analysis, conceptual master planning, and site design. Throughout the semester, students learned about Bellefonte and its population. They created designs and three-dimensional models, which they presented in final reviews with invited guest critics. Students and faculty then designed a book to showcase the Community Design course and each student’s individual design for the semester, which will be given to Bellefonte for further consideration of master planning and redevelopment.
The exhibition will be on display during the fall 2014 semester in the Stuckeman Family Building Studios on the red wall behind Stuckeman Commons on the second floor. To view a gallery of the exhibition, visit http://bit.ly/1BbkQ0X
Students in the course (28 total, 26 undergrad 2 grad):
BLA ’16: Allyson Caruso, Amy Foster, Alia Horvath, Andrew Seifarth, Austin Thomas, Christopher Frey, Emily Hahn, Emily Larkin, Jeffrey Holzer, Joseph Ignatius, Julian New, Jonathan Van Wagoner, Kevin Gavaghan, Kathryn Moffatt, Kathryn Nguyen, Liu Yang, Qin Fang, Richard Conte, Rebecca Purtell, Shane Brown, Shannon Kenyon, Samantha Paulukas, Thomas Wenner, Wilson Lee, Yuqing Dai, and Yunwen Wu.
MLA ’15: Alex McCay and Lilian Luu