Rutgers Landscape Architecture Students Re-Imagine America’s National Parks

Rutgers Landscape Architecture Students Re-Imagine America’s National Parks

Team of students earn top honors in national design competition

A team of graduate and undergraduate students in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences earned top honors in a national student design competition sponsored by the Van Alen Institute and the U.S. National Park Service.

For its design of the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, the students won an Award of Excellence, making Rutgers one of two semi-finalist schools to receive top honors in the competition titled “Parks for the People: A Student Competition to Re-imagine America’s National Parks.” The award ceremony took place at the headquarters of the American Association of Architects in Washington, DC, on Sept. 19.

The competition actually began in the summer of 2011 when the Van Alen Institute and the U.S. National Park Service issued a nationwide call for design schools to submit a studio syllabus that envisioned a park for the 21st century, explained Kate John-Alder, assistant professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and project leader in the competition.

The Rutgers Landscape Architecture Praxis Studio taught by John-Alder was one of nine design studios out of the 41 originally in the competition to be chosen as semi-finalists, tasked with re-imagining seven regional sites across the U.S. As semi-finalists, Rutgers and Pratt Institute School of Art and Design in New York were each chosen to submit a final design for Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, in Elverson, PA, representing the northeast regional site in the competition.

Watch a video of the winning Rutgers design below.

Rutgers--Parks for the People: Hopewell Furnace from Van Alen Institute on Vimeo.

In the spring of 2012, the fourteen students enrolled in John-Alder’s Praxis Studio, a mix that included juniors, seniors and second-year graduate students, began their designs.

“The objective was to create a 'Park for the People' that promotes reverence for place and advances social, economic and ecological sustainability through an integrated research, planning, design and review process,” said John-Alder.

“Throughout the semester students worked collaboratively with each other, and, when the need arose, with faculty members from other departments at the school to understand the site’s natural and cultural history,” she added. 

The final competition submission consisted of three distinct designs represented on separate boards. The first board situated Hopewell Furnace in time and place. The second board contained fourteen design and management interventions, one for each student, and photographs of a three-dimensional model. The third board contained an illustrative site plan, a yearly chart of recreational activities, and a site branding strategy that included brochures, billboards, wall murals and a cell phone APP.

Graduate students included James Bykowski, Kimberly Corbo Nuccio, Wanqing Huang, Mukta Jadhav, and Denisse Ortiz. Undergraduate students included seniors Ibrahim Bouzine, Roxanna Demel, Lissa Dieye, and Meghna Mirali and juniors Derrek Cowell, Joshua Didriksen, Ben Granovsky, Daniel Rounds, and Francis Turner. There were two Teaching Assistants in the Praxis Studio: Andrew Opt’ Hof and David Hanrahan.

Faculty advisers brought significant expertise to the competition, said John-Alder. Faculty included Lena Struwe, associate professor, and Brooke Maslo, research specialist from the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources; David Tulloch, associate professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture; and Katharine Woodhouse-Beyer, archaeologist with the Department of Anthropology, School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers. The Rutgers team was joined by Laura Sasso, an animation specialist, and a web design firm.

More details on the competition can be viewed here.

Media Contact: Paula Walcott-Quintin