River Aire, near Geneva. Courtesy Georges Descombes.

THIS IS A TEST: Landscape as Site for Research

Wexner Center Film/Video Theatre / Knowlton Hall Gui Auditorium
April 1, 2016 - 8:15am to April 2, 2016 - 7:30pm


THIS IS A TEST: Landscape as Site for Research assembles designers, scholars, scientists and artists to discuss the role of experimentation, research and prototyping in the wider field of landscape architecture. Today’s landscape architects draw from the methodology of agronomists, foresters and horticulturists as well as from art experiments to analyze ecological patterns and generate design proposals—from garden to river and forest. Often small in scale, these experimentations inform larger landscape systems and offer a measure for spatial, material and ecological conditions. THIS IS A TEST celebrates the 100th anniversary of Landscape Architecture at The Ohio State University by building on the legacy of a land grant institution, namely the connection to agriculture and the reliance on empirical research.

The symposium is organized by Dorothée Imbert and Sarah Cowles and is co-sponsored by the Graham Foundation, The Ohio State University College of Engineering and the Wexner Center for the Arts.


International speakers include Georges Descombes, Michel Desvigne, Roland Gustavsson, Steven Handel, Richard Hindle, Elena Irwin, Karen M’Closkey, Michael Mercil, Brett Milligan, Elizabeth Mossop, João Nunes, Aurora Tang, and Marc Treib.


DAY 1:  Friday 1 April 2016

Film/Video Theater, Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University

8:15            Registration and Coffee/Tea

8:40            Michael B. Cadwell, Director, Knowlton School (welcome)
8:45            Dorothée Imbert, Head, Landscape Architecture Section, Knowlton School (introduction)
9:00            George Descombes, "Designing a rivergarden"
9:40            Steven Handel, Ph.D., "Rising Seas, Restoring our Coastal Landscape"
                  Distinguished Professor of Ecology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
10:20          Coffee/Tea Break
10:40          Richard Hindle, "Inventing Rivers: levee prototypes and environmental innovations from the United States
                  Patent and Trademark Office"
                  Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, University of California, Berkeley
11:20          Elena Irwin, "Integrated Modeling of Agricultural Landscapes and Ecosystem Services: The Lake Erie
                  Coupled Human and Natural Systems Project"
12:00          Q&A
12:20          Break for Lunch (See restaurant info below)

13:50          Sarah Cowles, Assistant Professor, Landscape Architecture, Knowlton School (introduction)
14:00          Elizabeth Mossop, "Reimagining Urban Vacancy: Landscape Experiments in New Orleans and Detroit"
                  Founding Principal, Spackman Mossop and Michaels landscape architects
14:40          Brett Milligan, "1:1 Scale Trials with the Vacant and Feral"
                  Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of California, Davis
15:20          Coffee/Tea Break
15:40          Karen M'Closkey, "Tests of Time"
                  Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Pennsylvania
16:20          Q&A
17-18:00      Informal Reception, Mershon Auditorium Lobby

DAY 2:  Saturday 2 April 2016

Gui Auditorium (250), Knowlton Hall, The Ohio State University

8:30            Registration and Coffee/Tea

9:00            Dorothée Imbert (introduction)
9:15            Michel Desvigne, "Landscape Coherences: Tests, Prototypes, and Scales of Operations"
                  Landscape architect, Paris
10:00          Roland Gustavsson, "The Landscape Laboratory. Simple, Spatial, and Dynamic"
10:45          Coffee/Tea Break
11:00          Marc Treib, "The Garden as Test Site"
                  Professor of Architecture Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley
11:45          Q&A
12:00          Break for Lunch (See restaurant info below)

13:45          Sarah Cowles (introduction)
14:00          João Nunes, "Prototype as a test"
                  Founder and CEO of PROAP, Lisbon
14:40          Aurora Tang, "World Building in the West: Conceptual Development, Cultural Monuments, and Visionary Life
                  Practices and Teachings"
                  Program Manager, Center for Land Use Interpretation
15:20          Coffee/Tea Break
15:40          Michael Mercil, "Land Grant: An Artist in a Public University"
                  Professor in the Department of Art, The Ohio State University
16:20          Q&A and Closing Comments
17-18:30      Closing Reception, Knowlton Hall Center Space

Schedule subject to change.


The symposium is free and open to the public but pre-registration is required. Space is limited.

To register for the event, please complete the online registration form below.

Locations and Parking

Please use our custom Google map to locate symposium venues, parking and convenient food options.

DAY 1:  Friday 1 April, 2016 | Film/Video Theater, Wexner Center for the Arts
The Wexner Center is located at 1871 North High Street at the corner of 15th Avenue on the campus of The Ohio State University. Parking is available at the Ohio Union South Garage.

DAY 2:  Saturday 2 April, 2016 | Gui Auditorium (250), Knowlton Hall
Knowlton Hall is located at 275 W. Woodruff Avenue, just Northeast of Ohio Stadium. Parking is available adjacent to the building at the Tuttle Park Place Garage.


Nearby hotels include:

The Blackwell Inn
2110 Tuttle Park Place at Woody Hays Drive
Columbus, Ohio 43210

Homewood Suites Columbus/OSU
1576 West Lane Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43221

Hyatt Place Columbus/OSU
795 Yard Street
Columbus, Ohio 43212

SpringHill Suites Columbus OSU
1421 Olentangy River Road
Columbus, Ohio 43212

Fairfield Inn & Suites OSU
3031 Olentangy River Road
Columbus, Ohio 43202

Hilton Garden Inn University Area
3232 Olentangy River Road
Columbus, Ohio 43202


Lunch locations close to Wexner Center for the Arts (Day 1 Symposium Location):

Heirloom Cafe
The Ohio Union

University Gateway District

Lunch locations close to Knowlton Hall (Day 2 Symposium Location):

Bistro 2110 at the Blackwell Inn and Conference Center
Panera Bread on Lane Avenue

Boxed lunches for purchase may become available in Knowlton Hall for Day 2.  More information coming soon.

Read about USA Today’s picks for the Top 40 dining locations in Columbus.


Port Columbus International Airport (CMH)
Centrally located in Ohio with a diverse mix of air carriers, Port Columbus International Airport is the airport of choice for millions of passengers each year. The airport is operated by the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, which also oversees the operation of cargo-dedicated Rickenbacker International Airport and general aviation airport Bolton Field.

Area Transportation

Campus Area Bus Service (CABS)
The Campus Area Bus Service (CABS) is a free transit service provided by The Ohio State University Transportation and Traffic Management. CABS is dedicated to providing clean, reliable, and hassle-free transportation on and around Ohio State’s Columbus Campus.

Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA)
Public bus service throughout city of Columbus. Cost: One-way fares as low as $2; day passes as low as $4.50.

Provides on-demand access to a network of 300 Smart Cars serving Easton Town Center, Downtown, The Ohio State University, and to/from Port Columbus International Airport via The Parking Spot. Car2go members can take one-way trips to their final destination, and park in any legal parking spot within the Home Area for a low, affordable rate with parking, fuel and insurance included. Sign up online before you arrive, or visit the local office for same-day access.

CoGo Bike Share
Check out a CoGo bike at any automated bike station, then ride it around from station to station while checking out all Columbus has to offer. When you've reached your destination, just dock your bike at the nearest station to complete your session, and you'll be on your way. CoGo Bike Share is a project of the City of Columbus.

Find more information on Columbus Transportation on the Experience Columbus website.

The Elusina Lazenby Experimental Forest in the Banvard Gallery

This special exhibition in Knowlton Hall's Banvard Gallery will accompany the THIS IS A TEST symposium. The show will open 2 March and close 4 April.