Department of Landscape Architecture
Solar Decathlon 2011

LAE students present community designs to town

January 17, 2012

Landscape architecture students are bringing the community of White Springs together with their designs.

Students enrolled in the landscape architecture department’s Site Planning and Design studio recently unveiled their proposed revitalization of the town’s historic Carver neighborhood.

The semester-long design project titled a “New Florida Community” was presented to the mayor, council officers and community members of White Springs in December.

Students spent the second half of the semester developing design concepts that emerged from a week-long charrette and community visioning workshop that was held in White Springs in October.

“The initial community workshop really set the stage for an amazing semester’s outcome,” said Kevin Thompson, assistant professor of landscape architecture. “Through the course of a three and a half day visioning workshop undertaken in October, the group completed a site analysis and produced development concepts for White Spring’s historic Carver neighborhood.”

Dave Armbruster, Principal, EDSA Fort Lauderdale, led the on-site design charrette assisted by Amy Wagenfeld, Therapeutic Design Consultant, West Palm Beach and master’s student Lauren Stubbs. Master’s student Chris Lathrop and Partner, Dix Lathrop Assoc, Orlando, led an oral history project assisted by doctoral student JP Weesner, master’s student Aaron Weiner and Tracy Wyman.

A “New Florida Community” challenges traditional planned community models common throughout the state of Florida, Thompson said.

“The concept seeks to create an inclusive new community that challenges the boundaries of age, economic status and race,” he said. “It’s one-part Chautauqua and one-part Elderhostel, tempered by the projects and practices we saw during the semester’s week-long field trip to Seattle and Vancouver, informed by the case study investigations the students did of the Green City of Hagaby, Sweden, and influenced by White Spring’s unique natural setting along the banks of the Suwannee River in north Florida.”

The final outcome of the project resulted in sixteen unique design concepts which include a connected transportation network, mixed-housing types, intergenerational community spaces and a generous system of connected greenways, parks and open spaces enveloping a charter school and community center at its core.

“The students recognized early on that the ‘real client’ for this project is the existing community of White Springs,” Thompson said. “But the project was uniquely satisfying because of this particular group of student’s devotion to issues of social equity throughout the design process. Seeing these students sharing their ideas and visions with the members of the community at the final presentation was one of the best experiences of my teaching career. It really was a heart-warming experience.”

Students presenting at the final community workshop included: Stephanie Bou-Ghannam, Johan Bueno, Viviana Castro, Bryn Coubrough, Craig Handey, Mark Koenig, Adam Mccollister, Joshua Roedell, Laura Snider, Christopher Stidham, Theresa Wymer, Belinda Nettles, Jarod Prentice and Aaron Weiner.