Social Ecologies of Harlem

  • Food Garden Detail. Tianyi Zhang.
    Food Garden Detail. Tianyi Zhang.
  • Vignette. Yiran Zhang.
    Vignette. Yiran Zhang.
  • Section detail. Ailing Zhang.
    Section detail. Ailing Zhang.
  • Plan. Tianyi Zhang.
    Plan. Tianyi Zhang.
  • Vignette. Rory Thibault.
    Vignette. Rory Thibault.
  • Vignette. Eddie Falkowski. 
    Vignette. Eddie Falkowski. 

Spring 2016 and 2017 undergraduate landscape architecture studio led by senior lecturer Jacqueline Margetts

In this undergraduate studio course, senior lecturer Jacqueline Margetts challenged two semesters of students to consider a 2-mile area in Harlem watershed in North St. Louis City. In an effort to alleviate persistent flooding, the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) demolished houses and created detention basins to slowly capture surface water runoff and release it into the sewer system. The students developed designs that proposed innovative ways to deal with vacant lots and transform them into spaces that can serve ecological and/or social purposes. Students were tasked with reducing surface water run-off, providing green infrastructure that increases biodiversity, and engaging the community socially.

The students conducted extensive research about the site, including site visits, mapping, and conversations with neighbors. They investigated the human and non-human systems that exist in the community and created maps that identify and analyze these conditions and patterns. They investigated the properties of materials, creating models that demonstrated what they had learned. Finally, they built on the potential of ecological urbanism to create their proposals.

Student proposals ranged from creating new public space with park-like features, habitats for monarchs, rabbits, and birds, orchards for fruit tree production, and waste reclamation systems for food, green, and water. All proposals were compiled into a book, available for purchase here and for online viewing here.

Special Thanks

Green City Coalition
Urban Vitality and Ecology Initiative