Open Space and the Public Realm on a University Campus

Green Building

Open Space and the Public Realm on a University Campus

Imagine you are walking along the path of your routine commute from point A to point B. What does it look like? Why did you choose that path to your destination? Is it safe? Is it inviting? Is it scenic? As designers, we incorporate our stakeholders’ comments and our expertise of landscape architecture to create a vision that captures a space’s sense of purpose, beauty and function.

We believe that in addition to a college or university’s architectural components, the open space system – or public realm – plays a critical role in establishing image, ensuring site functionality, and increasing overall quality of life for its users. Every minute students and faculty spend outside of a building will be spent in the public realm, thus reinforcing the importance of its design and functionality. The design of the space and activities fostered there includes features where users can gather, sit, and meet; it should serve all functions of what is needed. Outside space facilitates campus life activities, enhances traditions, and even has the potential to make new ones.

By evaluating and planning the campus’ open spaces along with its facilities, the institution will be empowered with the knowledge and direction required to help create functional, intentionally designed places and spaces that help foster collaborative learning, strengthen faith, sell students and parents on investing there, faculty on teaching there, and contributes to recruitment, retention and motivation of students, faculty and staff.

Browning Day’s landscape architecture studio is committed to giving identity, balance and flow through and around the campus environment. Over the past few years, we have further developed and enhanced the architecture of the site of the Arts District on Indiana University Bloomington’s campus, Taylor University’s Central Campus Zone and DePauw University’s “heart of campus.”

We redesigned the landscape and pedestrian experience for the Jordan Avenue corridor at Indiana University to improve pedestrian safety and enhance aesthetics. Our site design converted the road into a tree-lined and medianed boulevard with identified bicycle lanes and bus pull-offs, creating a refuge for pedestrians and bicycle traffic. Another goal and outcome of our design was to improve pedestrian circulation through a nearby residence hall and between the Musical Arts Center, Simon Music Library and Recital Hall. Our team also provided schematic design for a formal Arts Gateway to campus following the completion of the Jacob School of Music East Studio Building.


On Taylor University’s campus, we created a master plan that utilized current trends in sustainability and green infrastructure. The purpose was to change the architecture of the site in response to how users entered academic buildings and the core campus area. A visioning session with the university and its representatives determined the development of building additions, renovations and the need for significant form-giving exterior landscape planning. This plan also addressed capital needs of several campus spaces with a new heritage quad, new entry commons, woodlands commons and sensitive environmental areas.

On DePauw University’s campus, we redesigned Anderson Street, which is a major gateway to the heart of campus. As part of the Stellar Communities program, our landscape architecture design removed on-street parking and converted the street into a two-way traffic flow. The design added brick paver walks, limestone block retaining walls, street lights and stately trees. We are working on Stewart Plaza, which is also on DePauw University’s campus. Our design earned the 2016 American Society of Landscape Architects: Indiana Chapter Merit Award in the Unbuilt Works category. It is currently under construction and will knit together a new dining center and renovated Student Union building. It will embrace pedestrian activity and create a “place” on campus. The design features two fountains, bosques of trees in a suspended pavement planter system, varied surface materials, theatrical lighting on seat-height walls and various plant materials.

Each one of these projects are different because we believe there is no one size fits all approach to campus landscape architecture planning; no two institutions are the same! That’s why it is important for us to take an individualized approach to each planning process that is innovative and tailored to the unique needs and challenges faced by each client.

 

Barth Hendrickson, PLA ASLA APA is a firm principal whose passion resides in rethinking design solutions that make physical sense of the human experience through planning and design. His solutions add value by stewarding the health and well-being of life on our planet. Many of the firm’s landscape and site design awards are the result of his encouraging a studio focus on the design and management of water, soil, vegetation, material use and, animal/human health and well-being in purposefully programmed spaces. Barth is a Vice President at Browning Day and on the Executive Committee managing the day-to-day aspects of the company.

 

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