2017 St. Louis ASLA Student Awards

WashU students and faculty at the ASLA Annual Awards event. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Graff.

Posted by Sam Fox School February 20, 2017


Three projects by Master of Landscape Architecture students received Student Chapter Awards at the St. Louis Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects' Annual Awards event, held February 18.

Contested Terrains: Landscapes of Waste

Jiahui Guo and Yuhan Zhang
Student Honor Award
Fall 2016 studio led by lecturer Micah Stanek and assistant professor Jesse Vogler

Project Statement:
Through the study of Chicago and its hinterlands—the canal towns—we started to notice how people often study landscapes separately. When we see the landscape though a different lens, every landscape implies other landscapes.

The landscape of Chicago and its hinterlands overlapped over the years. Excavation started in canal towns during the era of the I & M Canal, and materials were transported to Chicago to build up the metropolitan city. After the I & M Canal closed due to industrial recession and resource exhaustion, the direction of transport shifted, and now Chicago sends waste back to canal towns. The excavated quarries are now the common sites for landfills, which made them a typical example of how every landscape implies other landscapes.

Although these quarries have been filled with waste, the wound caused by human disturbance can never be healed, as a landfill can cause several kinds of environmental pollution. We cannot resolve the consequences of consumption, but we can show how our consumption has permanent consequences to these overlapped landscapes. To move in a more just direction, we have come up with two projections: making Chicagoans more aware of garbage production and proposing a new form and process of landfill to reduce pollution.

To the Is-Land: Connecting Esperanza

Shelbey Sill
Student Merit Award
Fall 2016 studio led by senior lecturer Jacqueline Margetts

Project Statement:
Islands are biopolitical entities of extraordinary potential, with some of the world's most biodiverse habitats and unique human populations. Vieques, a small landmass off Puerto Rico's east coast and the focus of this studio, is a tropical paradise but comprises a history of environmental, economic, and health problems. The island's hardships are partly due to the island being used for target practice by the U.S. Navy from 1971 to 2003, leaving the island without a new identity and the economy weak.

This studio investigated the continuity of change on Vieques, and aimed to develop a regenerative strategy that positively responds to its bioregional and geopolitical context and capitalizes on its unique island characteristics.

Esperanza, a small village of hotels, bars, and restaurants, lies along Vieques' southern coast, which is attractive to both locals and tourists. Although full of life along the street set above the flood wall, there is hardly a connection to the sea, the existing coral reef ecosystem, and adjacent habitat preservation zone. With little walkable beach available, how can the life beyond the wall better connect to the water below? To connect Esperanza is to unite the Vieques town with the beachfront through both physical and social interventions.

Contested Terrains: Umwelt in Landscape
Hui Yang and Yi Zhang
Student Merit Award
Fall 2016 studio led by lecturer Micah Stanek and assistant professor Jesse Vogler

Project Statement:
An umwelt is the world as received by a specific species, framed by the 19th century biologist Jakob von Uexkull; the word means that different species receive the same physical world differently. When projects try to fit incompatible worlds together, they fail. In contemporary planning and landscape architecture, designers always misunderstand umwelts and their relations.

The umwelt of the human and umwelt of the great blue heron are intertwined and in conflict along Chicago's Bubbly Creek area. However, because of the incompatibility between these two subjects, we cannot imagine a Bubbly Creek for the human and the great blue heron without a designed interlocking of umwelts.

We tried to approach the heron's umwelt and experience the world through its perspective—with a focus on its flushing distance, behavior, habitat, and sense. Primarily, we will arrange two umwelts in a limited space through the strategic manipulation of distance. Our design approach looks to manage this distance by screening and imitating other umwelts through landscape manipulations such as changing topography, planting, and sheltering structures.

Through the understanding of the nature of the idea of the umwelt, we try to better deal with the relations between different species of their compatibility, incompatibility, symbiosis, and competition.