Reactscape device:space

LA 7002 . Graduate Design Studio

[email protected]
office hours: M 11:30-12:30 or by appt.

Class Meeting Time: MWF 1:30-5:30

Premise . Site

Landscape architecture is defined broadly and allows for many approaches to various scales of design. This studio will focus on site design that is the genesis of a rigorous process of site analysis, observation, simulation, and representation. This process will attempt to understand the site at multiple scales and through a variety of experiences. You will be asked throughout the semester how the process of analysis and observation relates to your understanding of the urban landscape. The site design process will come directly from your understanding of physical and social landscape conditions and will engage, obfuscate, and/or enhance perceived axioms.

The studio will engage downtown Baton Rouge focusing primarily on the Desoto Park area. Desoto Park is not currently a “park” but is instead an area of batture land that is bordered by a casino to the north, levee to the south, the Mississippi River to the West and River Road and the state capital grounds to the East.

View Desoto Park in a larger map

Pedagogical Objectives

  • Develop a stance on site analysis, observation, and design.
  • Apply a coherent design process to complex site design projects.
  • Design at the small/medium scale utilizing two and three dimensional analog/digital representation techniques.
  • Develop site analysis techniques and apply them to complex projects focusing on social, cultural and ecological systems.
  • Design with multiple program elements within individual design strategies.
  • Apply knowledge from researched case studies, materials, and technologies to innovative site design proposals.


The studio will examine the landscape through the following modes. Each mode is a starting point to begin our landscape studies.

Observation, the action or process of observing something in order to gain information or the ability to notice things, esp. significant details.
The ability to observe the environment is critical to landscape architecture. This is more than seeing, touching or hearing but instead requires us to have a critical eye toward the landscape and provide a rigorous method for our observations. Observation asks us to sense phenomena in the environment and develop methods to compare observed and/or ephemeral attributes.

Representation, a thing, esp. a picture or model, that depicts a likeness or depiction of something.
Developing methods to represent site observations and design proposals is essential to the design professions. Representation is the abstraction of complex site information in an intentional manner to express a purposeful narrative. This process is not only the expression of design but is a method to further understand site relationships and design considerations.

Simulation, imitate the appearance or character of (something).
When examining complex site processes, simulation often allows designers to have a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that form cultural, social and ecological frameworks. Simulation attempts to recreate complex processes, the design of clever simulations allows designers to learn directly from their creations. Developing experiments that deconstruct and analyze landscapes is an important tool in understanding how sites function.

Analysis, detailed examination of the elements or structure of something or the process of separating something into it constituent elements.
Analysis forms a layer of testable axioms necessary to form a coherent site strategy. The analysis of a site does not always explicitly produce physical form or solutions but instead allows designers to test their proposals against a measurable norm. Similar to representation and simulation analysis is an ongoing process, refined and in flux throughout the design process. The process of design often informs the analysis and new questions must be asked in order to move proposals forward.

Synthesis, the combination of ideas to form a theory or system.
Synthesis describes the conclusions reached from careful observation, simulation and analysis through the application to the prescribed program and/or design brief. Synthesis is in flux, a system of ideas dynamically driven by inputs from the design process.

Propose, to put forward, an idea or plan, for consideration or discussion by others.
As designers our goal is to create proposals for a site’s future considering the synthesis we have created. As with each of the other modes previously dicussed the proposal is a concurrent consideration within the process of design. The design proposal is the desired outcome for a site, this could be a maintenance strategy, infrastructural intervention and/or designed form.

Site Observations

The studio takes the stance that it is necessary to engage the landscape in both virtual and physical methods in an attempt to create a systemic clarity. Part of this engagement will be weekly site observation exercises that will take place at Desoto Park. The site observations will be a significant portion of your grade and will be incorporated into your analysis and design proposals.

  • observation 0.001 2.03
  • observation 0.002 2.10
  • observation 0.003 2.24
  • observation 0.004 3.02
  • observation 0.005 3.09
  • observation 0.006 3.30


Everyone will keep a class blog using an account at wordpress. You will need to create an account and submit the url to your professor via email. Everyone’s wordpress account will be made available to each other for commenting and review.

Your blog will be used to document your research and site observations throughout the semester. The blog will serve as a space to document the current state of your project, share interesting information, and to submit elements of your studio projects. At a minimum you should post once a week and comment on the work of your classmates. WordPress offers the ability to go beyond text postings allowing you to embed hyperlinks, imagery, video, etc, this makes your wordpress blog a medium you will manipulate to express your work and research. It is essential to participate in this portion of the class in order to develop a recording of your progress.

Your blog will be graded on completeness and timeleness of entries and innovative use of the technology. Studio communication will occur through email and the blog, it is imperative that you check your email and the course blog on a daily basis.

Spring 2012 Student Blogs
Prentiss Darden
Erin Dibos
Silvia Cox
Lydia Gikas
Claudio Golombek
Elizabeth Hwangbo
Ju Liu
Nicholas Milan
Ian Miller
Kossen Miller
Keely Rizzato
Matt Rossbach
Shu Shi
Matthew Williams
Karl Fan Yang
Zheng Zhong

Spring 2011 Student Blogs (examples)
Amanda Beerens
Dan Burton
Audrey Cropp
Brett Davis
Peter Graves
Cerys Heroman
Matt Seibert
Li Wang
Xueyao Wei
Ben Wellington


You will use a wide range of media in studio, both analog and digital. You will always need to have the following available for every studio session:


Theory in Landscape Architecture: A Reader
Digital Drawing for Landscape Architecture
Ecological Urbanism


Each student’s final grade will be determined by the student’s progress and final product of each project. This includes the quality of interaction, production, craft, content, and presentation of the student’s work. Students must engage in active discussions regarding the progress of their work. Projects will not be accepted that have not been reviewed by the instructor. Late and incomplete work will not be accepted unless the student has a valid excused absence. Students will be expected to participate in all class/online discussions, field trips, and reviews. Participation is critical for your progress in studio and is therefore required.

Participation – Site Visits . Reviews . Desk Crits . Readings – 5%
Blog/Site Observations – 20%

Studio Projects

1.001 – Observe . Analyze . Illustrate – 10%
1.002 – Access . Interface – 20%
2.001 – Simulate . Express – 10%
2.002 – Framework . Propose – 35%


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