Back to School

Landscape Architecture UG4 Studio / Autumn 2021 / Jake Boswell and Justin Parscher

LARCH 4960: Advanced Landscape Design and Planning

Back to School

The Columbus City Schools (CCS) are currently putting together a new facilities master plan. As the largest school district in the state, they have a uniquely challenging task ahead of them. They have aging facilities. All nineteen of their high schools were built after 1976. Too many of those facilities lack appropriate HVAC systems, forcing students and staff to work in freezing or baking conditions. This is part of a larger problem; across the country, lagging tax revenue in cities has made it difficult or impossible for communities to maintain or improve school facilities to an acceptable standard.

What can landscape architecture contribute here? The educator Loris Malaguzzi proposed that young people have three teachers: adults, peers, and the physical environment they live in. The school landscape could encourage young people to grow and develop - or it could undercut those lessons. We can rethink how high schools and middle schools relate to each other and to their neighborhoods; to their site and its inherent features; to other civic institutions; to streets and to public parks; to cars and to bikes.

For this studio, we will be exploring a series of distinct scenarios for rethinking clusters of high schools and middle schools in the system. We will focus on the schools in the east of the city, around the Big Walnut Creek, and the west of the city, in and around the Hilltop neighborhood.

West Academic Hub
Aidan Finelli, Michelle Ford, Daniel Ibba

The West Academic Hub aims to create a densely integrated campus combining West High School and Briggs High School onto the existing West High School site and moving Westmoor Middle School onto this same site.

The importance of preserving and showcasing the existing West High School building is paramount in our design that aims to establish a visual connection and prominent axial relationship between the high school and Broad Street to the north of the site.

In our scenario, we obtain the Buckeye Ranch lot and use this street frontage to develop a publicly accessible plaza adjacent to our middle school while also providing children with a defined Middle School greenspace delineated by a pick-up/drop-off service road.

All academic building circulation is focused internally to the site with parking relegated to the periphery to emphasize the axial pedestrian procession from north to south.  This bustling “mini campus” utilizes the bisecting Olive Street as a central node of student circulation. Techniques such as uneven and multi-colored cobblestone paving are used for traffic calming and mitigating potential hazards between pedestrians and vehicles.

The ceremonial field to the south of the site is imagined as a naturalized reconstruction of what existed there before: stands and a track and field course. The terraced earthwork can be utilized for school events such as assemblies, pep rallies, and graduation while also being able to be used by the surrounding neighborhoods.

Stormwater runoff is also discerned and mitigated through the implementation of a stormwater retention pond in the south carrying runoff water from west to east based on existing and modified grades


Jake Boswell, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture

Jake Boswell

Associate Professor
Justin Parscher

Justin Parscher

Assistant Professor of Practice