FRINGE: entry by Associate Professor Kristi Cheramie with emerymcclure architecture and Sarah Young.
TEXTEX: entry by Assistant Professor Sarah Cowles and Knowlton School BSLA alumna Maritt Vaessin.

Cheramie and Cowles Jury Selection Finalists in 2015 Field Constructs Design Competition

Landscape Architecture Section Associate Professor Kristi Cheramie and Assistant Professor Sarah Cowles are two of 18 Jury Selection Finalists in the 2015 Field Constructs Design Competition (FCDC). The FCDC seeks to foster cutting-edge innovation by emerging national and international designers, architects, landscape architects and artists through works that actively engage with natural and cultural factors that are specific to the Austin, Texas and its surrounding region. Information about the Jury Selection Finalists is available on the competition website.

Cowles worked with Knowlton School BSLA alumna Maritt Vaessin on the entry TEXTEX. TEXTEX is an ecological armature constructed from commercially available environmental restoration materials: geo-textiles, erosion control mats, hydroseed mixes, coir logs, and live stakes of native Texas plant species. By amplifying, hacking, and foregrounding the aesthetic qualities of ecological restoration materials, TEXTEX draws attention to how living systems perform in tandem with man-made materials to restore ecological health and alter site aesthetics. It is experienced as a garden. Each prototype is a locus of visual intensity, composition, and handiwork within the existing landscape matrix. The materials and species palette is specific to the conditions of each site: low and wet, sloped and shaded, sunny and dry. The siting of these prototypes brings attention to the range of disturbed conditions within the Circle Acres Nature Preserve.

Cheramie collaborated with emerymcclure architecture and Sarah Young, both of Lafayette, LA, for their entry FRINGE. FRINGE is an exhibit of exposure: exposure of waste, exposure of reclamation, exposure to the elements. It is created with the intent to exhibit both the successes and trials of waste management. On average, an American family uses 1,500 plastic grocery bags a year. Of this amount, almost all ends up in the trash or loose in the environment and they do not break down. Austin is the first city in Texas to attempt to mitigate this waste issue by banning all plastic bags within the city limits. FRINGE serves as a tribute to the city’s efforts and those of The Ecology Action of Texas but also as a signifier of the environmental impact of this issue. Mimicking the field and the plethora of plastic bags that lie beneath, FRINGE rents the ground asunder to expose. From afar, the visitor will see the field rise. As they approach, the ground will open up to them. From inside, they will look back out through the bags at what the waste has become: the field.

The finalist selections highlight a variety of approaches to today’s design innovation and represents a breadth of material, technical, and social design solutions for engaging the competition brief. The diverse qualifications of the project teams capture cutting-edge work of emerging professionals and creative practices across multiple disciplines. Jurors noted an appreciation for the scale and ambition of the chosen proposals, the variety of material approaches, and the possibility for installations to marry a sense of discovery with surprise. FCDC attracted submissions from 4 continents, 9 countries, 14 states, and 35 cities. The finalist selection marks the conclusion of Phase One of the competition. As 2015 Jury Selection Finalists, Cowles and Cheramie’s entries will be exhibited at The University of Texas at Austin in November 2015.
The 2015 FCDC jury consisted of: Virginia San Fratello of Rael San Fratello in Oakland, Calif.; Benjamin Ball of Ball-Nogues Studio in Los Angeles; Ingrid Spencer, executive director of AIA Austin; Jason Sowell, associate professor and program director of landscape architecture at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture; and Seattle-based artist John Grade.
During Phase Two, the FCDC co-founders will review Jury Selection Finalists in order to identify the 2015 FCDC Winners, which will be slated for realization. The selection—based on curatorial factors, funding, and feasibility—will be announced in July 2015. The winning projects will be constructed and opened to the public at the Circle Acres Nature Preserve from November 14, 2015, to November 22, 2015. The exhibition will be part of a week-long event series promoting design and community planning at the competition site.

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