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“I learned a great deal about the difficulties inherent in trying to develop regional scale systems in the absence of any authoritative bodies operating at that level.” Andrew Weir ’08, working on a bicycle path and greenway system in South Shore near Boston, Massachusetts.
…about the human dimensions of design.
“It became clear that the garden had the potential to be more than just another aspect of the Parent-Child Development Center curriculum. Every design recommendation for this project was put through the lens of how it could build relationships, connecting kids to their parents, parents to the school, and the school with the community.” Kevin Adams ’08, working on a master plan for the Parent-Child Development Center, Turners Falls, Massachusetts.
“The project required us to think outside the box because it centered on an idea and goal with very few precedents. Being such a new topic, it helped me become more confident in my ability to present new concepts and to hold a dialogue about an idea that few people have considered. Working on the project I gained a new perspective thinking about how cemeteries might be evolving landscapes and places that people could return to and enjoy in life, and how we might have the kind of impact in death that we strive for in life.” Rachel Bechhoefer ’09, working on a plan for green burial at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“It was much easier to speculate about ecological functions than it was to understand whether revealing these processes in the ways we suggested would actually appeal to people’s sense of beauty and the sacred. Coming to understand how a site works, and could work, came to seem less like a boring obligation before the design real work got under way, and more like a process that reveals how a site is already charged with latent meanings and artistic possibility.” Katharine Gehron ’09, working on a plan for green burial at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“Our clients sought a vision for vibrant Adirondack communities that married economic and environmental interests. When considering a region where 200,000 residents are scattered throughout approximately 6 million acres of land, producing one vision that speaks to all of its constituencies becomes quite a tall order. We finally decided that offering one vision would never suit. We provided strategies for economic growth, environmental protection and stewardship, and community building.” Liz Kushner ’08, working on the Adirondacks project “People in the Park: A Toolkit for Fostering Vibrant Adirondack Communities,” in the six-million-acre Adirondack State Park, New York.
“We prescribed alternatives to the ‘industrial lawn,’ along with interim management practices to reduce gasoline and chemical use; using swales, mulch, and understory plants to transform bare, eroded soil; and designing intensively planted community entrances. We designed outdoor spaces that residents would care about and therefore care for.“ Randy Marks ’09, working on a landscape master plan for the Doverbrook condominiums, formerly part of Westover Air Force base in Chicopee, Massachusetts.
“Good design is often a ruthless culling, and it’s probably better to learn this lesson in a safe setting like Conway. And everyone in my year did learn a lot about landfills and brownfields. It’s not just the product but also the process that’s important during the Conway experience. Working on different projects, students can learn a lot from each other.” Kevin Adams ’08, working on a master plan for the landfills in Amherst, Massachusetts.
…about working with clients.
“Constant communication with the client and stakeholders was necessary to keep the project up to date and facilitate exchange of information in a timely manner. Several files that were expected ended up being not available, and we had to be creative and prepared to provide an alternative source of information that would accommodate a specific area of the document.” Malena Maiz ’11, working on a greening plan for Avenida Jose Vasconcelos in San Pedro, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
“A designer should never protect their client from a good idea.” Andrew Weir ’08, working on a master plan for Riverview Park, Lowell, Massachusetts.
…about technical aspects.
“In one short Conway term, my ability to ‘talk the talk’ of alternative energy systems really skyrocketed. I also became much more familiar with the particular needs and concerns of farming operations in general.” Jesse Froehlich ’08, working on a master plan for Bloody Brook Farm, South Deerfield, Massachusetts.
“The project left me with important questions about how one goes about improving soil fertility.” Amy Livingston ‘08, working on a master plan for Bloody Brook Farm, South Deerfield, Massachusetts.
“It was a thrill, at such a famous and historic location, to explore ideas of how people interact with the natural environment and develop a sense of environmental stewardship.” Jenna Webster ’09, siting an interpretative center at world-famous Walden Pond, Massachusetts.
“We learned this kind of project takes dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders and professionals, a review of a wide range of information, and it takes time. Time to step back and look with fresh eyes, time to process all the input and its potential implications, and time to develop effective modes to clearly and succinctly communicate ideas.” John Lepore ’11, working on a management plan for Carolina Hill Natural Area, Marshfield, Massachusetts.
“Much of the 87,000-square-foot historic mill hugging the Millers River lay in ruins, destroyed by arsonists, creating heaps of asbestos-contaminated rubble. Existing foundations of several buildings were incorporated into the designs.” Karen Dunn ’11, working on design alternatives for the reuse of Usher Mills, Erving, Massachusetts.
…about art and vision.
“By the end of the design process, I–and the clients–realized that, with a cohesive and concrete vision, time and effort, all parts of the design are possible, even when they might have appeared far-fetched or outlandish to begin with.” Fiona Dunbar ’09, working on a master plan for the Willie Ross School for the Deaf, Longmeadow, Massachusetts.
“The artistic aspects of landscape design sometimes seem arbitrary and decorative to me, and I feel now, after having done this project, that I’m in a much better position to differentiate between projects that have a complex relationship with the constraints of site and culture, and use this tension successfully, and those that avoid these constraints and the difficulties, responsibilities, and transformative possibilities they present.” Katharine Gehron ’09, working on a plan for green burial at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts.