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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Iain M Robertson
L ARCH 474
Seattle Campus

Advanced Design Studio

Detailed design studies of small-to-medium-scale projects. General focus on public landscape areas and social/psychological uses of site. Specific focus on design development and professional office presentation. Offered: W.

Class description

VEGETATION MANAGEMENT ON LAKE WA. BLVD COURSE DESCRIPTION (see also Project Information provided by DOPAR Urban Forestry Program)

This studio will explore the "second planting design"--the management and maintenance of plants and plant communities/assemblages as a design activity. Which is to say we shall consider design from the perspective of designing living systems not desing of static objects. Life is about to become dynamic! it grows on you!

All too often we regard design as being complete when facilities are constructed and the site planted. The design is done. We wash our hands of that particular dirt, and walk away to face the next design conquest, into a golden sunset of fame, and glory. Not this time!

This studio takes a contrary view: that landscape design is a continuing activity that persists, in some form or other, throughout the lifespan of a project. The 'first' design consists of decisions about what to plant, where to plant and where to put open space and how to shape it. The 'second' design makes decisions about how to manage growing, changing, developing plant communities or eco-systems and their effects on open spaces, uses, and visual character over time. To be effective at the second planting design we must adopt an attitude in which TIME BECOMES THE TOOL, NOT THE ENEMY, OF DESIGN

VEGETATION MANAGEMENT/PLANT & SITE MAINTENACE Seen as a design function rather than as a trivial, mindless, mechanical activity management becomes an exciting design activity that is attuned to more traditional activities such as agriculture and gardening than to architectural design and construction. We shall in effect be reasserting the connection between LA and land/landscape/plant community management. I hope to convince you that these activities may in fact be a better definition of sustainable design, urban ecological design than the initial design decisions and that these activities may in fact be one and the same as stewardship--something we claim to do as LAs but may not do in practice.

Numerous decisions need to be made continually about any living landscape. In this studio we shall focus on decisions about plant management rather than decisions about soil erosion, hydrologic system restoration/preservation. We shall realize that historic preservation is analogous to management design.

STEWARDSHIP The fact that LA has adopted the 'build-and-leave' architecture model thwarts our ability to be effective landscape stewards. The article of faith underlying the studio is: STEWARDSHIP IS NOT A ONE TIME ACTIVITY. IT IS A CONTINUING EVOLVING INTERACTIVE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LAND, WITH PLANT COMMUNITIUES, WITH PLACE. THESE ACTIVITIES AND THIS ATTENTION LEADES TO EVER CLOSER FIT BETWEEN HUMAN ACTIVITIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT. Stewardship leads to the development of a 'vernacular' landscape uniquely suited to the characteristics of this place. Stewardship is the process of becoming ever more completely fitted into the landscape it is not (emphatically NOT) something one does once and has taken care of for the rest of a design's life. This studio is about stewardship as the central value and activity of sustainability and how we might develop design tools to express stewardship activities and goals.

DESIGN OF SYSTEMS & UED WE SHALL THINK ABOUT THE DESIGN OF SYSTEMS influenced by natural and cultural/social processes. Our designs will be SYSTEMS NOT OBJECTS. Our designs will include management activities to help systems develop into relatively stable forms and management activities to maintain these forms once developed.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Iain M Robertson
Date: 01/06/2006