Waterman Farm Studio

Landscape Architecture Senior Studio / Autumn 2018 / Jake Boswell and Ethan McGory

In the spring of 2018, the College of Food Agriculture and Environmental Science (CFAES) held a series of university-wide listening sessions intended to solicit feedback and ideas concerning the future of Waterman Farm. Waterman (officially the Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory) is a “living and learning facility maintained by CFAES for the conduct of research, teaching and outreach programs.” While Waterman has always had publicly oriented outreach programs, new investments like the Franklin County Extension Offices (which began construction in July 2018), the student farm (begun summer of 2017), and the University’s Discovery Themes (particularly InFACT) have begun to push CFAES to think about the farm increasingly as a resource that operates as a robust outreach facility for the campus and the region while continuing its role as a site for field-based research and testing for scholars and students.

Those two macro programs (outreach facility and field-based research site) are both exciting and challenging. As a land grant institution, it’s important for the university to make the work of its faculty and students visible. Yet ongoing research is, at best, opaque to lay audiences. At worst, publicly accessible research can be harmful to the visitor as well as the experiment. The conflict between those disparate programs was embraced as a productive foil for site planning and design in this studio. Working with faculty and staff from CFAES and the university’s office of Planning, Architecture and Real Estate, this studio engaged Waterman Farm as a site design study.

Starting with the vision and resulting set of programmatic desires—as set out by the listening sessions—and CFAES’ subsequent vision plan, the students studied similar university farms and field-based research sites across the country to understand how similar competing programs are managed. They then interviewed the dozens of researchers, faculty, and staff currently working at Waterman or using it as a teaching site. With that shared information, students worked in groups of three to author the design proposals for Waterman seen above.

Read the studio’s precedent analysis book