Directed Research Project Finalists Announced in Landscape Architecture

In a format of traveling reviews, 11 students in the Landscape Architecture section presented their Directed Research Projects (DRP) in locations throughout Knowlton Hall during Spring Semester’s Final Review Week. Following the selection of six finalists, and a second-round of their presentations, the Directed Research Prize was awarded to Marty Koelsch in the undergraduate category and Emily Knox in the graduate category.

Undergraduate Projects

Marty Koelsch | A Garden of Conscientious Intervention

As a critique of the existing separation between design pedagogy and fieldwork, A Garden of Conscientious Intervention shifts the focus out of the studio and into the landscape. The design framework, a series of 10 concrete columns at 6” x 6” x 90”, takes aesthetic inspiration from the land art era of the 1960s and 70s. The 10 columns were cast every Monday for 10 weeks and left to cure onsite, allowing the surface texture and composition to be manipulated by site-specific temperature, humidity and precipitation. This allowed the concrete columns to speak back to temporal site phenomena. The columns were then studied in extreme detail, cataloging all of the surface changes and ground disturbance that occurred. The work explores how the concrete can record/narrate site ephemera, and how Koelsch’s site intervention impacted the site’s evolution.


Abby Anacki | Patent Legacies & Waste Water Futures

Abby Anacki’s research focuses on the limits, role and futures of our current wastewater treatment network and the dangers of the ideological pattern that continues to be upheld in this system’s design. The analysis begins with the history of wastewater systems in America and the manipulation of water through various technologies over the last few centuries. The historical implications of these works have led us to rely heavily on a broken system fueled by reactive, ad hoc problem-solving. Using Columbus as a proxy for cities across the Midwest, a study of the most recent infrastructural technique was performed, focusing specifically on a massive 4-and-a-half-mile long, 20’ diameter, interceptor sewer that sits almost 200 feet below ground. Utilizing key overflow points along this tunnel, speculative interventions are deployed in hopes to celebrate, reinvigorate and question the weakness of our current infrastructure into a productive testing ground for alternative wastewater futures.


Alexandra Lemke | THE [in]VISIBLE ROAD: Spaces of Detention + Deportation in the U.S.

The [in]visible Road reconceives of the landscape as a space of state-wide protest, constructing the otherwise unseen routes of carceral surveillance and bodily control, carving an obtrusively direct path between individual detention facilities, and visualizing deportation space as less remote, and more intimately involved in the daily lives of US citizens and neighbors than expected. The massiveness of the polemical infrastructural proposal is a critique on current detainee management strategies—which inappropriately rely on prison infrastructure and frequent facility transfers over significant distances. Acknowledging the numerous spaces which a detainee may experience while in detention, the student engages deportation space as a construct of both individual sites of detention and the liminal spaces between—positioning the landscape architect in a critical role as political advocate.

Graduate Projects

Emily Knox | GRAZED: Crisis in the Steppe

Patagonia is emblematic of remote, untouched wilderness in the imagination of many. To protect this landscape, American corporations like The North Face have recently been facilitating conservation efforts in the region. They have visions of Patagonia as a new ecotourism mecca. But these grand visions tend to exclude the human population that has lived and worked on these lands for hundreds of years—the gaucho, or sheep rancher. These groups have come at odds with each other as the overgrazing of sheep has desertified massive portions of the steppe. Knox’s project engages with the tension by deconstructing the cultural practice and ecological phenomenon alongside one another, envisioning a way forward in which a functional ecosystem and the cultural practice aren’t in opposition.


Mitch Scherer | Before the Stopover: Restoring BioDiversity in the Anthropocene Through High Altitude Seed Dispersal

The extreme energetic demands of long-distance migration make it a challenging and vulnerable time for birds—marked by high mortality rates and extreme physiological stress. The greatest threat to migratory birds is human destruction of stopover habitats through commercial development, agriculture, and the introduction of new competitors and predators in stopover areas. Passerine birds, classified as “mechanism species,” consume seeds that survive their gut passage and can effectively disperse seeds throughout thousands of miles of landscape. Passerine migrant birds mediate colonization of plants in remote areas of the world. Scherer’s project reconciles the demands of human consumption of land with the needs of priority birds to facilitate landscape management strategies that evolve and adapt over time. By using socioeconomic and environmental interactions among different sites simultaneously, designers in landscape architecture can alter the passerine bird distribution to serve an ecological function and challenge the notion that non-human worlds are somehow separate from our own. 


Anuja Girme | Stationing Agriculture

Agriculture plays a vital role in India's economy where more than 50 percent of rural households depend on agriculture for their means of livelihood. Pune, a city on Deccan plateau, underwent a frenetic transformation thus bringing rapid waves of change in the rural agricultural landscapes. The impacts of urbanization and industrialization filtered through all the layers of ecology of the green belt around Pune city. The need of preserving the dichotomy between city and the countryside and their coexistence gives us a threshold of possibilities along the fractal edge between the two. Girme’s project designed small scale practices tying in policy changes within the existing landscape with four short term and long term strategies for a strengthened and more cohesive agricultural landscape and for optimizing the usage of resources within the green belt. The project attempts to conserve agriculture and to utilize it to reinvent itself in rural landscape to meet the economic needs as well as fulfill the social and environmental functions.