Learning Landscapes

  • Learning Landscapes, Patrick Henry Downtown Academy. Photo by Forrest Fulton.
    Learning Landscapes, Patrick Henry Downtown Academy. Photo by Forrest Fulton.
  • Photo by Jerry Naunheim.
    Photo by Jerry Naunheim.
  • Dedication ceremony, spring 2012 Learning Landscapes studio project. Photo by Jerry Naunheim.
    Dedication ceremony, spring 2012 Learning Landscapes studio project. Photo by Jerry Naunheim.
  • Photo by Jerry Naunheim.
    Photo by Jerry Naunheim.
  • Photo by David Kilper.
    Photo by David Kilper.

Learning Landscapes
Patrick Henry Downtown Academy, St. Louis
Spring 2011 & Spring 2012

Over a two-year span, undergraduate architecture students participated in "Learning Landscapes," a pair of design/build studios led by visiting assistant professor Forrest Fulton. For the project, students and faculty partnered with Patrick Henry Downtown Academy—a historic elementary school located in St. Louis' Columbus Square neighborhood—to implement designs to improve the streetscape and school grounds.

During the initial phase of the project in 2011, students completed work on a 10,000-square-foot outdoor classroom. Situated on what had been a cracking asphalt lot, the completed landscape features rolling earthen mounds covered in native grasses and linked by pathways of European-style crushed limestone. The space also includes raised planting beds for growing crops, a dedicated seating area, a landscaped play area, and a raised wooden walkway that doubles as a low stage. The project was awarded a 2012 Built: Merit Award from the St. Louis Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

In spring 2012, students built upon the original designs, adding elements such as a pergola, wood play-sculptures, sidewalk garden, garden storage, and birch allee. To support Patrick Henry's mission of sustainable education, the project incorporated practices such as on-site storm water retention, locally grown foods, and native drought-tolerant plantings, all of which serve as "green" teaching tools.