Student video highlights campus landscaping

By Victoria Cooper

It's that time of year. Tulips are in bloom all across campus. The mall trees are coming back to life. The ducks have returned to bring entertainment to the usually quiet pond outside the Alumni Center. All signs point to the arrival of spring in Happy Valley.

But what is behind every perfectly placed flower? Who is responsible for ensuring our ducks have a pleasant body of water and surroundings to come back to every April? That would be none other than a special team at Penn State known as the Office of Physical Plant's Division of Campus Planning and Design.

While the landscape upkeep at one of the largest campuses in the country seems like quite the endeavor, the members of this group do so much more than meets the eye, literally. In addition to methodically placing each shrub, sign, and blade of grass to aesthetically please even the most unsuspecting viewer, they are charged with designing and placement of every building at the University Park campus.

But wait, that's still not all. While the office operates from the University Park location, it performs all of these responsibilities for the 23 campuses scattered throughout the state.

With such a lengthy laundry list of tasks to accomplish on a daily basis, one has to question if these men and women even have time to enjoy the fruits of their landscape and architectural labor?

According to Mike Lampariello, a senior majoring in landscape architecture as well as an employee of this unique division of OPP, the answer is "yes." All of the planning and preparation behind what some may consider tedious details is what contributes to the Penn State experience, Lampariello said.

Every decision they make impacts the final product; whether it be which process should be used to lay the foundation for the newest campus structure or what the finishing touches will be to make sure it gives off a new, unique vibe. There is no doubt that this group is experts at bringing the Penn State campuses to life through careful planning and design.

Some of the newer initiatives that the division is promoting include sustainability and environmentally-friendly buildings, landscapes, and study spaces. Immense progress has already been made in newer construction projects such as Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, Borland Laboratory, Katz Law Building, and the soon-to-be completed Millennium Science Complex. All of these have been LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified which ranks them among some of the top green structures in the country.

So next time you have a moment to spare, take a stroll through the campus and make it a point to observe every single detail. Spend a little more time looking up to the very top of the Old Main bell tower and down to the flawless flowerbeds at your feet. Take in the scenery that is sure to envelope your senses no matter where your exploration takes you.

But this time observe with the knowledge that nothing in your scope of vision was placed there by chance. Every single detail laid out before your eyes was put there for a specific reason in a planning process that began long before you're seeing it in the Division of Campus Planning and Design.

To learn more, watch a video on the topic at /video/167484/2013/02/09/video-no-title online.

Contacts: 

Victoria Cooper

Last Updated November 18, 2010