Midwest Landscape Lab

The Midwest Landscape Lab (MidLL) is a research and teaching initiative focused on the ecological, material and cultural histories that shape the Midwest.

Midwest Landscape Lab

The Midwest Landscape Lab (MidLL) is a research and teaching initiative working through place-based scholarship to cultivate environmentally and socially engaged landscape architects.

MidLL facilitates close collaboration between faculty and students, supporting fieldwork and research centered on ecological, material, and cultural histories that shape the Midwest. MidLL promotes working with and within the landscape to generate new and expanded forms of landscape architectural practice. The lab prioritizes experiential, field-based design methods, site-scale experimentation, and visual research that interconnects disciplines.

As a research extension of Knowlton Landscape, MidLL engages with students and faculty by connecting curriculum to real-world experiential and analytical field work. MidLL strives to support and amplify individual faculty and student research and hosts in-the-field events that promote place-based scholarship.

MidLL On Site

The Midwest Landscape Lab is committed to modeling sustainable design practices and cultivating stewardship of the local environment. We reinforce Knowlton Landscape’s curriculum by providing opportunities to work On Site, connecting concepts from the classroom and studio to real-world observational and analytical fieldwork.

MidLL On Site is a field trip series integrated into the MLA curriculum. Each fall and spring, graduate students travel to a significant Midwestern ecological system to experience and the landscape directly. These field trips are critical punctuations in the academic calendar and are unifying points of study for graduate students across the three-year degree.

Student research and fieldwork is chronicled in the Midwest Landscape Lab's archive. A curated exhibition of the experience is forthcoming.

Research, Courses and Explorations

With existing ties to the Knowlton Landscape curriculum and exciting new partnerships on the horizon, MidLL continues to grow and develop. A collection of work that aligns with the lab’s ongoing mission and method is featured below.

Faculty Research Fellows

The Midwest Landscape Lab Research Fellowship program allows MidLL to provide financial and operational support to researchers in order to enable and uplift work - be it research, design, scholarship, and/or practice - that aligns with the lab's mission.

Work and periodic updates from current and past faculty fellows can be found below.

Michelle Arevalos Franco (2022-23)
Codifying the Bureau of Commons

The Bureau of Commons, a not-for-profit landscape cooperative, will practice methods of landscape architecture that bridge the division of labor, organize the means of production, and promote landscape relations outside those of private property. "Codifying the Bureau of Commons" provides an organizational framework to and model to operationalize landscape work to unite people across barriers of race, class, nationality, and occupation.

Tameka Baba (2022-23) 
Lots of Liminality

"Lots of Liminality" reimagines container gardening as a refined design strategy scaled and multiplied to create an evolving landscape generated through ritualistic practice. Planted vessels, constructed using traditional basket weaving techniques and fabricated with organic materials meant to deteriorate, are staged to create unique spatial conditions that shift over time as choreographed movements across vacant lots.

Field Method Graduate Fellows

The Field Methods Fellowship provides funding and support for MLA students to test and demonstrate replicable field-based research, grounded design methods, and real-time site-scale experimentation. By enabling an additional avenue for work and research within the MLA program, the fellowship aims to continually make the case that fieldwork and direct engagement with the landscape are essential facets of landscape architectural research and practice. The 2023 cohort of Field Method Fellows are:

Spencer See
The Field Studio Kit

Bilwa Gulavani
The Details of Hugelkultur

Kate Broussard
Modeling Material Site Conditions

MidLL Personnel

Brendan Ayer
Lab Coordinator, Lecturer

Bhavana Koralagundi
Graduate Research Associate