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The first studio in the MLA core sequence introduces students to the principles, concepts, and skills that define landscape architecture design. Students learn to analyze, design, and describe landscape space through a series of problems exploring design strategies from concept to materials. Beginning with precedent studies of small urban spaces, the studio builds on exercises aimed at developing design through methods of representation, narrative, and most importantly, conceptual iteration, culminating in the design of urban spaces for the St. Louis neighborhood of Grand Center. The site for the final project is a parking lot located adjacent to the St. Louis Symphony/Powell Hall. Aside from being a parking lot, one of the site’s main uses is as host to Circus Flora throughout the month of June. Students are charged with redesigning this parking lot as a flexible and active urban space that engages the range of Grand Center users (residents, workers, visitors, event participants, etc.) and reflects the diverse activities held in the Grand Center district. The space should also draw new users and activities. The client does not want designs that erase differences between these various users and activities; instead, designs must use these contradictions and potential conflicts as the material for the project to be diverse and exciting. Manipulation of the ground plane through earthworks is a requirement. Students must assume that all of the existing landscape elements could be removed; they also must consider circulation and provide handicapped access to the entire site. This final project draws on previous explorations of the semester: an understanding of the fundamental language of landscape architecture, especially as it relates to the design and experience of public space; the question of scale; the exploration of the ground plane; and the experiential and spatial qualities inherent in the manipulation of ground plane and vegetation.
© 2011 Zheng
Zheng, Junru, "Grand Center Dynamic Impression" (2011). 2011 Fall Yates MLA Core Studio I. 2.