At the start of the semester, we all planted a microlandscape. Though I did not say much on it through the months, it was hard to not watch as it was sitting right in front of me. So, here is a summary of what happened:

By late February, the second row of Sedums had died. It appeared that they desired more sunlight than the studio could give them. The ferns were a bit dry but still living.

Early March: one of the first sedums has begun to show signs of dying. It has started to drop leaves. Others look well. Third row is shooting up new growth.

Late March: Sedum has died and the second is starting to fail as well. Ferns are coming back

April: All four sedums failed but the third row is flourishing. Forth row shows signs of being under watered but quickly recovers

May/Clean out: Only ones worth keeping was 3rd row. All others appeared to have dropped to heavily to recover or could not reused for some time.

Conclusion: Sedums need light! Though everything else appeared to live throughout the semester, it needs to be noted that better care should be give. They needed more water over all but in general, the plants lived on a slope and on drainage water.

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Our final project of the semester involved a redesign of the entire site of Desoto Park. Working in pairs (I was with Li Wang) we constructed proposals dealing with an overall concept/ thesis and then presented them to a jury.

Li and I felt that a Civic space would best serve the city and so we tackled the idea of extending the city to the river.

In short:

This design focuses on bringing people from the city out towards the river by creating a space to be used at all times of the day and year.

With direction connections from the Visitors Center, the State Capitol, and downtown Baton Rouge, Desoto Park becomes transformed into a destination point for day to day visitors as well as any size event. As a person approaches the site from either side, they enter one of three areas connected by materials and the extended levee but divided by use. Coming from the south in, one enters a more family oriented area with a playground to one side and an open field to the other. North goes into a café (built to mirror the Visitors Center) as well as an overhead viewing platform. Once past there, the open plaza extends out, perfect for large scale events and public gatherings.

Lights also play a key role in the site allowing it to function at night as well. Certain paths through the center of the park are defined completely by those lights both during the day and night. Planted through are native trees brought in to tie it back to the city. Oaks and magnolias cast shade over the open plaza and the levee while crepe myrtles outline playful paths.  

While the main focus of the design remains on land, a small portion juts out into the river allowing for people to have complete access from the hot city to a cool river breeze.

The overall goal: Extend Baton Rouge out to the Mississippi River and make Desoto Park truly part of the city

Please see Li Wang’s blog for images.

Edit: Reason Li and I raised the entire elevation of the site above flood level: http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/High-and-still-rising.html

Our second project of the semester was based on the idea of connectivity. This could be a physical path, something one sees, smells, or just a similar feature throughout the site.

Focusing on the Visitor Center, we were charged with the task to connect the Capitol Grounds to the Mississippi River. Included in this was to be parking, a cafe, event space, and media space for groups of people ranging from a pair up to  near 100.

Starting off with parti diagrams, I looked at attacking the site as a whole. Quickly I saw that I was trying to force something that wasn’t there. As I went on into 3-D modeling, something came to my attention by chance: the idea of views. People in this area love to look at the River and one can only do it from so many places. Yet in Desoto, the growth blocks someone from seeing it. Yet instead of leveling the park, I went with another approach: elevation and angles.

The final result:

Project Plan

And a small summary I typed:

This redesign of the State Capitol Visitor Center focuses on a visual connection between the City of Baton Rouge and the Mississippi River while allowing for a diverse collection of events to take place. The elements are not only separated by the physical features of River Road and N 3rd Street but by the area known as Desoto Park itself. Taking this into consideration, the project worked to unify the site while providing a mix of event spaces.

The two main elements of this design are the use of a grand entrance ramp which allows for a wide view into the site as well as of the river, and the raised platform that extends over River Road for an expansive view of the Mississippi River. This allows for a circulation to form around the park and towards the other aspects as well as giving points of interest. A side goal of this design was to save the three large old oak trees and bring in younger ones along a second connection on the south side of the Visitor Center. This oak ally gave framed view towards the library and a returning on back towards the park. Also framed in the oak trees is a media center for outdoor speeches, concerts, and other events. The placement is for the shade of the trees at during sunset. On the right side is a connective plaza allowing for people coming from the Capitol to have sneak glances into the site before walking in.

Desoto Park itself is left untouched to as the design is not meant to have a physical connection. 

As for the review, well besides the enjoyment of an oak alley, there seemed to be the idea that I took my favorite clothes and failed to make an outfit out of them. (Thank you Bruce). I guess I just need to work better on having elements flow together.

This post covers a site observation done over two weeks. We were asked to go out into Desoto Park and find a place to sit and observe everything for 2-3 hours. Taking a note book and camera, I went out just between the river and the smaller of the two ponds and watched. It was amazing to see all the living creatures run away from my presence only to slowly come back over time. Within 30 minutes, bugs were flying around me and many decided I would make a create view point. An hour into it had birds flying over my head and feeding next to me. By the time I had left, turtles were coming back onto the log and a frog decided to be adventurous. Sadly, when I left…they all dove back into the water.

Yet outside of these fun little notes I saw, there was a bigger picture to seeing this ‘micro-scale’ part of the site. Normally when one things of a larger area, they believe that if you change a part of it, you change all of it. Strangely enough, that wasn’t the case. Whenever someone disturbed an area, creatures across the water did not react. They would stop moving but they would not run. It was a different take on what I had always believed about how things react. Still, should something large disturb the site, things would react.

After sitting out there, I came back an created an image composed of elements that make up the site and items that changed over time. This was done with leader lines and annotations.

Site Observation 6

Then, the following week, I took some of the key aspects and turned them into a visual version of the diagram. Sound, wind, movement, smell, and a few small elements were depicted.

Site Observation 7

While I know this is rather late, I figured it’s better now than never…

Back in January until February 14, we were working on our first project for Brad in Studio. This involved pairing up in teams and taking on one aspect of the site. From there, we (as a group) defined the ideas of an Ecological Preserve, Civic Space, Recreation and Commercial Development as seen in Desoto Park.

I was partnered with Li Wang and together we battled the changing Topography from the Mississippi River through the Park and one block into the city. Together we did near daily site visits to construct 8 sections through the site as well as a pair of elevation maps (see below).

Sections 12345 for line grayscale

Sections 6789 for lines grayscale

baton_rouge_downtown-100 Scale 24×36

In the long run, we discovered that the never really levels out, even in the man-made areas. The ground is constantly rising though the slope does decrease.

As for the terms, Li and I took out sections and mapped out the ability it had for each concept. Though the later works appeared cluttered, the idea came across that a person can walk a straight line from the river and enter places suited to many different aspects.

Attempt at laying out my cafe:Image with measurements

Li and I went out to the site and did a Photo Inventory of Desoto and the Center. Here is what we found: