Birds + Climate Change


Course Instructor

Mackenzie Waller

Course Date

Winter 2020

Course Type

Undergraduate + Graduate Studio

As climate change becomes an increasing challenge there is still opportunity and hope for ensuring resiliency for our birds and the natural world. National Audubon’s Climate Report suggests about 2/3 of the birds in peril can be helped by acting now.This provides hope and a pathway for action.

The Birds + Climate Change Studio worked in partnership with the Tahoma Audubon Society at their small wetland park site in the South Puget Sound region, Adriana Hess Audubon Center. We tasked students with a series of questions. How can design balance the intersection of habitat specific solutions and urban public space? How might the Audubon Society create bird habitat while still ensuring the safety of park visitors? How can we creatively incorporate traditional park elements with natural habitat spaces and stormwater management?

This document attempts to capture the outcomes of these studio investigations across scales, from regional to small fabricated prototypes.

Download the PDF
View the studio report online

2018 Building New Global Connections | Croatia Design/Build

This story originally appeared on College of Built Environments website on October 23, 2019. You can see the original story here.

The UW Landscape Architecture Croatia Design/Build program gives students the unique opportunity to make a lasting, physical impact in their host community. Professor Daniel Winterbottom, an expert in the creation of healing and therapeutic gardens, leads the program.

American and Croatian teammates together after final construction of the reflexology path.

With Professor Winterbottom as their guide, students explore the role of restorative landscapes in the built environment through hands-on learning. They study the history of healthcare in Croatia while also exploring the unique culture, food, and architecture heritage of the region. Finally, the students gain practical experience, working together to solve a real-world design/build problem. Last year, students were tasked with creating a new outdoor physical therapy rehabilitation space at the “Prim. Dr. Martin Horvat” Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Hospital.

Located just outside the city of Rovinj, on the western coast of the Istrian peninsula, the hospital is among the oldest orthopedic-rehabilitation institutes. It specializes in offering modern hydrotherapy treatments to patients coming from throughout Europe. The close proximity to the temperate waters of the Adriatic Sea allows the hospital to offer both indoor and outdoor hydrotherapy facilities during much of the year. For the students, this means having the opportunity to design a functional, therapeutic outdoor space to serve both patients and staff. The build portion of the program further allows students to become adept with key landscape construction techniques, materials, and project management approaches – skills that often aren’t practically addressed in a traditional classroom setting.

Professor Winterbottom leads a workshop on techniques for hand representation.

For Elizabeth Lange, a Master of Landscape Architecture Student, the most memorable part of the experience was the opportunity to build strong connections and foster teamwork with her fellow American and Croatian classmates.

“Every day it was a lot of work and long days, but it was fun to be with the people in the program and learn new things,” she shared. “I became very close with my classmates because of this program.”

Elizabeth also felt that the unique opportunity to participate in a design/build program was particularly useful for rounding out her educational experience, especially as she prepares to enter professional practice in the near future.

“A design build program forces you to think about your design and the practicality of it,” she explained. “In design school, we don’t normally construct what we design, so the sky is the limit in some sense, but in a design/build that isn’t the case. You can think of grand ideas but then you also have to factor in the budget and feasibility of it in order for it to work in the real world. I think that is an important thing to experience in school going forward.”

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the study abroad experience is the way in which it allows students to frame their own life and experiences in the context of a broader perspective.

For Elizabeth, her time in Croatia gave her valuable personal insights and allowed her to build stronger relationships with others – both key hallmarks of a successful study abroad experience.

“I learned a lot about myself and my abilities during this program through my relationship with my friends and through the relationship of design,” Elizabeth shared.


Photo credits: Rhiannon Neuville and the 2018 Croatia Design Build class.

2018 Design+Build in Dals Langed, Sweden

In collaboration with students from HDK-Steneby, a design and crafts school located in Dals Långed, 15 students from University of Washington’s College of Built Environments, led by Professor Daniel Winterbottom, worked with the local immigrant and refugee community to create a community garden intended to improve well-being, alleviate the stresses of the integration process and connect this group with the broader community. The project goal was to create a deeper level of trust, connection and mutual respect between longtime residents and new arrivals.

The result of this project—a new public space—should greatly increase the quality of life for local residents, as it fills a need which was not previously supported by any of the existing spaces in Dals Långed: an outside meeting place where people of different ages, cultures and interests can meet and come together.

Course Details

Interdisciplinary Undergraduate + Graduate Studio
Study Abroad in Dals Langed, Sweden
Summer 2018
Instructor: Daniel Winterbottom

For lecturer Kristi Park, landscape architecture is for equity and activism

This story highlights the work of L ARCH 300 Intro to Landscape Architecture Studio in Autumn 2020. It originally appeared in The Daily on November 25, 2019. See the original article.

image from Kristi Parks Design Activism assignmentWhen UW lecturer Kristi Park assigned her 29 students a project in their landscape architecture class, she had few requirements: use found objects, don’t get arrested, don’t deface public property, don’t get hurt, and be respectful.

Most of the assignments in L ARCH 300: Introductory Landscape Architecture Design Studio, falls along the lines of typical design projects. But, starting last year, a unique “art activism” project was added to the syllabus. The students were given broad leeway to artistically create something that represents something they are passionate about.

After the projects were turned in, the Community Design Building in West Campus was filled with projects of a huge variety of sizes and mediums, including a couch, a toilet, and a structure covered in vines and foliage.

Park sees landscape architecture as an opportunity to design community spaces that emphasize the core values of equality, accessibility, and environmental responsibility. The idea of activism is a core aspect of the degree program.

While the course provides the necessary design and graphic skills to successfully imagine and implement landscape architectural proposals, a proposal should also emphasize values.

The aesthetic of a visual landscape, like a park, campus, or streetscape, is a high priority in landscape architecture. But Park believes that aesthetics don’t matter if the space is unusable or inaccessible.

“Whether you’re 2 years old, an elder citizen, have accessibility needs, or need to stay in a public space for longer than one might anticipate, I just feel really passionate about designing spaces for everyone,” Park said.

The emphasis on creativity is present throughout L ARCH 300. The studio meets for four-hour class sessions that provide ample opportunity for lively discussions, field trips to the Seattle Parks and Recreation, diverse reading lists, and a variety of projects to practice their design ability.

One student, Ava Ross, approached the art activism project by utilizing a couch to highlight the use of hostile architecture in Seattle. Her “Luxury Couch” had large prints on it that read “Every human needs to sleep. Every human needs to sit.”

“If you can’t have a private space because you’re experiencing homelessness, but you can’t exist in these public spaces and have these basic human needs met, like sitting and sleeping, then where are you supposed to go?” Ross said.

She noted that urban areas, including Seattle, take efforts to make seating in public spaces unusable by putting spikes on a ledge or placing a bar on a bench so people can’t lay down. By doing this, people experiencing homelessness are pushed to the edges of society.

“The art activism project has allowed students to see the design sequence in totality and also helps them to begin to develop a point of view,” Park said.

The couch was rolled to various places around campus and the U-District, prompting onlookers to recognize that a couch is considered a necessity by those with homes, but is often seen as a luxury for those with limited access to indoor spaces. Ross explained that it was meant to blur the lines between public and private spaces.

“It was interesting to see people interact with it, because people were taking photos of it,” Ross said. “The coolest part was there was actually a family sitting on it.”

In addition to teaching, Park is a professional landscape architect. In her work, she has practiced what she preaches. One recent project she worked on was the open parks and planning process with the Stillaguamish Tribe in Arlington.

“Getting to work with the Stillaguamish community was definitely an honor of my lifetime,” Park said. “Just to weave cultural stories and ethnobotany and community involvement into the landscape in the projects we were building was a really awesome experience.”

Throughout the process, Park engaged with Stillaguamish youth, having them participate in nature-based art projects of their own and give feedback on some of the design ideas.

Having not discovered landscape architecture until her thirties, Park sees working with communities, like the Stillaguamish, as a way to enhance the visibility of landscape architecture and the opportunities for creativity and community involvement it provides as a potential career.

Drawing in Design: Student Perspectives

Drawing in Design is a quarterly series of public lectures and weekend workshops for students that focus on representation in design and bring leading landscape architects and designers from across the country to our Department.

Student Perspective: Allison Ong, MLA

The workshop
Alan Maskin started with a presentation about his personal history and relationship with drawing, some of his work, and inspirations. On Saturday we spent the first half of the day doing some very quick exercises, which forced us to think about lineweights, shadows, perspective, and section. The rest of the weekend was spent on a group project that we worked on furiously through Sunday afternoon.

The workshop challenged us both technically and emotionally. On the technical side, we were constantly working at a large scale. At no point was the paper I was working on any smaller than 2’ x 4’. We worked in mediums I am uncomfortable and inexperienced with such as chalk and collage. On the emotional side I was constantly struggling with hesitation to make permanent marks, fear of messing up, anxiety about whether I could come up with anything original and creative, etc. It was really a weekend-long deep-sea dive into the wringer of drawing. Yet through all of these challenges our instructors created a very comfortable and supportive environment.

Why drawing is important to being a designer
Drawing is a way of communicating. Like any language, you get more fluent at using and understanding it through study and practice, which is what we did during the workshop. I think drawing is especially important for designers because it can convey an idea immediately and often with more persuasive detail than can a verbal or written explanation.

My experience as a student
Typically in the landscape architecture department, the only time we see professionals is for reviews and critiques. It felt very refreshing to work together with students and professionals from other disciplines. As landscape architects, we know that we will work with architects, planners, engineers, construction management, etc. once we are professionals. However, as students we rarely have the opportunity to interact with any of these groups.

This experience gave us an opportunity to work side-by-side as equals, which was really liberating. The weekend served as an inspiring reminder of the practical and impractical applications of our schoolwork as well as a reminder of the joy of creativity.

Student Perspective: Jean Ni, MLA

The workshop
We began with a Friday night lecture filled with inspirational ideas and images. Saturday began with several rapid-fire warm-up exercises, then transitioned into our 6-person collaborations on a larger project. I often get lost in the computer programs that are essential to creating graphic documents in school, and the weekend was a wonderful break to allow full exploration in the single medium of hand drawing. Some moments transported me back to elementary school-level exploration and play with materials, methods, and interactions with my team. This course felt like a no-stakes, fun, and experimental form of visual play and intellectual expansion. It is important for me to get outside of the academic pressures and that I often impose on myself during studio work, and develop skills while remembering that I actually enjoy drawing.

Why drawing is important to being a designer
Drawing is a way to communicate your ideas with others – being able to see rather than hear or read what someone is proposing is an effective way to share what is mentally perceived in your brain.

My experience as a student
I value interdisciplinary work in my everyday academic work, but have often sought this out in departments even outside of landscape architecture. It was great to engage with people in different specialties especially from CBE. I made some great contacts, got to know other people better, and enjoyed working outside of landscape architecture. Thanks to Olson Kundig and GGN for engaging with the UW students in this! It was awesome to work with professionals in the field and see their drawing process in the midst of our own.

Learn more Drawing in Design and watch previous lectures here.

Students draw from Canadian context

For one week in mid-June, students explored the similarities and differences between US and Canadian urban environments as they visited three Canadian cities: Montreal, Quebec City, and Ottawa.

The field study was led by Fritz Wagner, Professor Emeritus in the departments of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design & Planning and Dr. Regent Cabana, an Affiliate Professor (from New Orleans). They led a group of students from academic disciplines including urban planning, architecture, landscape architecture, and real estate.

The experience helped students to gain a better understanding of economic, political, social, cultural, and urban issues within the Canadian context. They met with a number of professors from regional universities, government officials, and other urban experts who gave lectures and walking tours.  The course examined similarities and differences between US and Canadian cities while investigating current urban issues confronting communities in French-speaking Québec and Ottawa. Students studied the physical layout of cities, urban design, urban growth, central neighborhood revitalization projects, local governance, and historic preservation.  Students were required to keep a daily journal and write a comparative paper on a topic related to urban issues encountered in Canada.


Red Square: re-imagining an iconic UW landmark (UW Daily)

Landscape architecture students (both undergraduate and graduate) have teamed up with students from across the College of the Built Environment and around the University to compete in the Re-Imagining Red Square Design Competition.

The competition, which wraps up in early April, has six interdisciplinary teams working for nine weeks to design alternative ideas for UW’s iconic Red Square. The winning team will receive a $5000 scholarship.

You can read more about the competition in this UW Daily article. Also check out the competition page on our website.

ASLA Advocacy Week 2018

UWASLA Co-President Sophie Krause (MLA ’19) and ASLA Student Representative Darin Rosellini (BLA ’18) traveled to Washington D.C. for Advocacy Week in May 2018.  This year’s ASLA Advocacy Week was “Landscape Architects Creating Resilient Solutions for Every Community.”

Sophie Krause & Darin Rosellini in front of the US Capitol.

Here’s Sophie’s reflection on this opportunity:

At a time when just last year ASLA and the profession of landscape architecture had to defend the right for our occupational licensure, this year’s Advocacy Week felt particularly resonant. Within the theme of “Creating Resilient Solutions for Every Community,” 2018’s advancement focused on three key issues: supporting the legislative ability of our work to protect communities with nature-based materials through the Living Shorelines Act (H.R. 4525), using green infrastructure to update our water management systems through the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act (H.R. 2355), and ensuring environmental safety for all communities through the Environmental Justice Act (H.R. 4114). While these three issues may vary in scale and scope, the ability of our profession to help communities address these local, regional, and national concerns remains universal.

As a student working to gain their MLA, in a profession regulated by state licensure and policy, having the opportunity to be in the room with Washington state representatives was a powerful look into the window of how design works to inform these policy decisions. Thank you to ASLA for working to promote the profession of landscape architecture and advance our practice through advocacy, education, communication, and fellowship – and a big thanks to our Washington chapter for helping ground some of our state’s designs into an equitable and forward-thinking framework.

And here is Darin’s write-up of the experience:

I am fortunate to sit on the Student Advisory Committee for ASLA. As one of six students on this committee, I have the opportunity to attend their annual leadership and advocacy week. This year it is was April 23rd-27th in the heart of Washington DC. We were within walking distance to all the major museums and monuments, and I did my best to see all the sites.

After a few days of sightseeing, the student representatives and myself woke up early on Wednesday morning to attend a leadership training with several key leaders from the national landscape architectural community, including Diane Jones Allen, Matthew Arnn and Robert Berg. They each talked about their unique career paths and leadership roles they have today. They spoke about designing for democracy, claiming open spaces, the new ways to do charrettes, and the value of pro bono work. We had valuable discussions on topics that normally aren’t covered in school, such as how to run a firm, networking, and the value of volunteering.

After our meetings, we went to ASLA HQ in Chinatown to see the newly remodeled building and the courtyard. The staff were very welcoming and so much fun to be around. I would say my favorite parts of the new space are the beautiful green roof and the remodeled staircase that is naturally-lit thanks to a new skylight. Overall, it is a beautiful building that is very welcoming and warm.

That evening, we had an educational session from the US Department of Transportation, followed by a training on our upcoming advocacy day. I met many people from across the country that care deeply about the role of landscape architecture. It was great to see smart people navigating the issues that face our federal government under the current administration and to hear how they are working hard to protect our environment through practical means.

Finally Advocacy Day was here, and it was wonderful. Our advocacy team consisted of three students, Sophie Krause from UW, Zochil Castro from WSU, and myself. We were paired with experienced professionals, Marieke Lacasse and Tim Slazinik. Marieke is a trustee for ASLA and Tim is the president of WASLA. As students, we were able to watch, listen, and jump in as we felt comfortable, which helped ease those fears of meeting with “big wigs.”
Our assignment was to meet with Washington Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and State Representative Pramila Jayapal to discuss three key issues that are important to the landscape architecture community: the Living Shorelines Act, the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act, and the Environmental Justice Act.

We had a wonderful day wandering around the Hill speaking to our representatives. The weather was amazing and our representatives welcomed us openly. The Government Affairs ASLA team set this up beautifully. They worked hard to schedule appointments, organize the information into a simple format for communication, and overall provided really great support.

This was an absolutely fabulous experience, and I am honored to have been a part of Advocacy Week. I can’t thank ASLA enough for giving us this opportunity.

Reading the Elwha 2018:BLA Course Perspective

For the last four years, Associate Professor and Department Chair Ken Yocom has brought an interdisciplinary group of students out to the Olympic Peninsula for a summer course titled “Reading the Elwha.” During a week of hiking, observing the landscape and field meetings with local scientists, land managers, and tribal members, students explore concepts of Nature and the evolving human relationship with the environment in a watershed marked by the largest dam removal project in US history.

Monica Taylor, a student in the course and recent BLA graduate, shared some of her experience in this reflection and images from her sketchbook, composed on the trip:

Going on the Elwha River trip as a third-year BLA was an unexpectedly moving and reaffirming experience for me. Students in their final quarters are often so laser-focused on Design Build or graduate thesis that sometimes our core drives can get lost in the shuffle. Reconsidering familiar texts and theories from the very beginning of the program gave me an opportunity to reconnect with personal goals and attachments within landscape architecture. The class brings together large concepts in ecological resiliency with community-specific restoration discourse, directly engaging all students with the possibilities and impacts of landscape professionals.  I would strongly encourage all cohorts within the program to participate in this truly special experience.

Design Foundations Studio 2018

Course Instructor

Iain Robertson + Liz Browning

Course Date

Autumn 2018

Course Type

LARCH 401 Foundation Studio

L ARCH 401 is an introductory studio, a foundation for subsequent courses that explore project design in varied contexts and scales. It introduces students to theory and practice of landscape design and site planning ­­by doing, observing, reading & reflecting. We use the word ‘landscape’ holistically. Landscapes are complex, dynamic, interactive and evolving systems. This studio is taught along courses in (1) site planning, (2) landscape graphics, and (3) grading and drainage. Together they lay the foundation for learning to plan, design and represent or depict, places/environments that are functionally, aesthetically, ecologically, and psychologically enriching while aspiring to be “sustainable” as urban ecological designs.

The slideshow above is from the introduction to the final design review. Here’s a link to the PDF.