MLA Student Brett Kordenbrock Winner of ASCA Being Resourceful Competition

Brett Kordenbrock, a second year Master of Landscape Architecture student at the KSA, is one of five winners of the ACSA Archive100 Being Resourceful competition. From the competition website:

“Architecture discourse and practice have a renewed interest in design logics that use fewer resources to reduce detrimental effects on natural systems. This has become such a strong part of architectural education that, rather than defining this as a separate expertise, it has become fundamental to the ethic and expertise of most designers. The Being Resourceful competition acknowledges that while we can't eliminate our impact, we can perhaps do better than simply try to do less damage. We are seeking ideas and projects that use design not only to ‘sustain’ environmental systems, but to encourage health and productivity between all natural systems including people, as one positive systemic idea often leverages other beneficial effects.”

Kordenbrock’s proposal developed out of Assistant Professor Jacob Boswell’s Spring 2011 landscape design studio in, which focused on infrastructural opportunism.  The studio asked students to study an infrastructure of their choosing, and then pull that infrastructure apart through an extensive diagramming exercise in order to understand how it works. Kordenbrock chose to look at coal fired power plants – the dominant mode of electricity generation in Ohio. Eventually he focused on the Pickaway Power Plant just south of Columbus. Stated Kordenbrock:

“I looked to coal because of its impact on our environment, but also understanding that these machines can be optimized - we all know that this infrastructure will be around for some time.  I also wanted to explore these environmentally detrimental machines to perhaps find ways to improve efficiencies and work alongside them.  Drawing on additional research by Richard T.T. Foreman, the ODNR, Ohio EPA, and AEP, I found there were a multitude of inefficiencies and opportunities at such a site.  Through the use of a power plant’s own waste products and operational processes, I was able to capitalize on several liabilities in very simple ways, reorganizing systems and proposing alternative ways of operating such a plant:  Water could be reused on site to create alternative habitats for waterfowl which passed Columbus twice a year; current capping strategies could be better utilized to create thickened ground planes to promote a diversity of wildlife; utilizing CO2 in bio-reactors to grow algae which could in turn be used as a bio-fuel on-site, given Ohio's Renewable Energy Portfolio demands over the next 10-15 years, all while the plant remains operational.”

ACSA Archive competitions not only focus on quality of work, but topic. For the Being Resourceful jury, this resulted in a spirited discussion about systems, priorities, and the context of projects themselves: Toby Snyder found the top submissions impressive with the scale of their imagination and enjoyed how many investigated the role of the designer itself in relationship to local issues, materials, and processes; Lisa Tilder supported entries that both developed complex arguments and proposed strong design or, in some cases, provoked possible futures; Kristina Hill reinforced the importance of connecting to outside systems, and from a landscape perspective, this meant a more complex or wider palette beyond what architecture students typically engage. As infrastructure defines a center in the design world and landscape and architecture work more closely together with engineers, politicians, communities and funding sources, these selected projects show how the academic context is providing a platform for students and faculty to be powerfully in the real mix, tackling ambitious goals, and seeing the big picture.

To view Kordenbrock’s winning proposal, visit


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