The power of a master plan

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Landscape architecture program: youtube.com/watch?v=qpcoaGAOjM

New landscape architecture majors explore public space in Delaware

As Cape Henlopen State Park approached in late August, beachgoers paused for a few seconds and audibly wondered what was going on over at the beach house picnic area.

There, a dozen and a half young adults held rolls of measuring tape and noted each other’s foot, arm, leg, overall height, and aisle widths.

Students carefully take measurements on the deck of the Cape Henlopen State Park Bath House.

Students practiced measuring on the deck of the Cape Henlopen State Park Bath House.

What seemed like an inappropriate activity for the popular beach town was actually a purposeful exercise in anthropometry, or measuring how people adapt and use the landscape.

The visit to Cape Henlopen was part of a weekend getaway for freshman and exchange students enrolled in the University of Delaware’s Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) program. Each August for the past four years, the program’s faculty has organized a two-day adventure known as the Bridges program through remarkable Delaware landscapes while challenging its students to consider cultural values ​​as well as design and functional characteristics of a successful audience place. An important consideration is how people interact in places like public parks.

“As designers, students need to understand the human scale in the landscape and how humans experience and understand the elements and space around them,” said Zachary Hammaker, an instructor who taught an exercise called “Anthropometry or Human Scale?” directed. “Students recorded their own personal measurements to create an awareness of convenient measurements for things like walkways, seating, and ideal viewing heights.”

The goal of the Landscape Architecture Bridges program is for students to critically consider (or rethink) local landscapes. The program included a tour of White Clay Creek State Park, a visit to an indigenous landscape project in Kent County, and a trip to the coastal plains of southern Delaware.

A day began at UD College of Earth, Ocean and Environment’s Hugh R. Sharp campus in Lewes, where students evaluated the suitability of four separate wings for a future outdoor classroom. Led by Eric Bardenhagen, associate professor of landscape architecture, the students considered the proximity and function of the other buildings on campus, building system noise, nearby street noise, existing sidewalks, gardens, and pathways on campus, sun exposure and shade, and topography.

After lunch at Lewes CanalFront Park and listening to the career experiences of Maggie Heffernan, 2018 UD Class of Landscape Architecture graduate, the group biked trails over to Cape Henlopen State Park to complete their human-scale activity.

This day ended with an informal dinner hosted by Rodney Robinson, a CANR graduate and Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture. Robinson is a founding partner of Robinson Anderson Summers, Inc. | landscape architects. Robinson’s company designed a master plan for the Delaware Botanic Garden at Pepper Creek in Dagsboro, which was scheduled as the first stop for the second day.

After the greeting, the class began their tour of the Piet-Oudolf-Wiesengarten.

After the greeting, the class began their tour of the Piet-Oudolf-Wiesengarten.

From what was once raw farmland, a total of 37 acres, framed to the east by 1,000 feet of tidal shore, the students watched how far the original plan, drafted in 2017, progressed. The progress is impressive.

The students walked through the pathways they saw on paper and directly experienced the written goals of the master plan as a garden that is “unique among the public gardens of America in that it will represent a real grassroots effort to create a place of… to create horticultural splendor”.

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Sue Barton is a professor and cooperative extension specialist in ornamental horticulture.

“Students will learn what Delaware Botanic Garden has implemented from their master planning process and will be given the opportunity to participate in a master planning exercise to try and plan their next steps based on the mission and goals that the DBG Board of Directors has set for them has a future,” said Barton.

Each student received a copy of the Delaware Botanical Garden master plan and explored how the design vision was implemented.

Each student received a copy of the Delaware Botanical Garden master plan and explored how the design vision was implemented.

After a warm welcome from DBG staff, the students strolled down a crushed granite path surrounded by a spectacular meadow garden designed by renowned Dutch plant expert Piet Oudolf.

“This is an excellent opportunity for BLA students to learn how master planning helps build a large undertaking like establishing a botanical garden from the ground up,” said Barton.

The tour took in winding forest trails that led to a lively shoreline – a large boardwalk at Pepper Creek. As they exited the forest, the students stumbled upon DBG’s newest feature, a specially designed public toilet competing for a national public toilet design award. Yes, there are even awards for toilets.

The Piet Oudolf meadow garden is spacious.

The Piet Oudolf meadow garden is spacious.

The students and faculty then immersed themselves in the unique landscape of Trap Pond State Park in Laurel. Since public parks are made to be experienced, they paired canoes through Cypress Swamp, home to America’s northernmost stand of cypress.

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The Bridge Program weekend ended with a visit to the Fort Branch tribal land reclamation project for the Lenape Indian tribe in Kent County. In recent years, landscape architecture students have identified goals including removing invasive plants and replacing them with native plants that are edible or have spiritual significance to the Lenape tribe.

One goal of the program was to put students at ease and introduce them to instructors, professors, and the curriculum in creative ways. Fiona Gorman said she looks forward to meeting the new students.

“I will continue to work with them in the future and inspire them to be a part of our community and our major,” Gorman said.

Gorman is scheduled to graduate in 2024 and serves as a teaching assistant for the program.

“This was a weekend of discovery and really getting to know my major, immersing myself in the whole experience and connecting with my classmates,” said Sakhi Phen, a sophomore. “Landscape architecture was a new discovery for me. What attracted me to it was the amount of creativity and personality I can bring to my work.”

For freshman Chase Correll, choosing a career in landscape architecture gives him the opportunity to creatively impact the environment.

“This weekend was a good introduction to the program itself,” Correll said. “It was good to get to know all and some of my professors. It’s nice to see how it will be in the years to come.”

An hour-long canoe exploration proved to be the ideal way to see a unique stand of cypress trees in the swamp area of ​​Laurel's Trap Pond State Park.

An hour-long canoe exploration proved to be the ideal way to see a unique stand of cypress trees in the swamp area of ​​Laurel’s Trap Pond State Park.

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