Penn State’s landscape architecture program full of ‘green solutions’

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s landscape architecture undergraduate program is the best in the country, providing students with hands-on experiences both in and out of the classroom.

Stuart Echols, associate professor of landscape architecture, encourages his students to explore new innovations in green infrastructure.

“The reason I think it is important for our students to have the background in green infrastructure is that they are the ones that are going to need to be leading the way,” Echols said in the video.

His dedication, coupled with that of the rest of the department, translates not only into curriculum for landscape architecture students, but also extracurricular engagement. According to Echols, undergraduates are participating in design competitions on their own — not for class credit.

Wilson Lee is one such student. Lee and his peers participate in an annual competition through the Environmental Protection Agency to design a space on campus that integrates stormwater systems. This particular group of Penn State students is implementing a design for Pollock Commons.

“We created runnels and bioretention swales and also porous pavement in order to capture storm water for reuse,” said Lee. “It’s a project that is based around the education and public awareness of stormwater systems and at the same time utilizing it in a way that benefits Penn State as a community.”

Filmmakers relied on Echols’ expertise during the production of Penn State Public Media’s latest documentary, “Water Blues, Green Solutions.”

“Professor Echols and his colleague’s Penn State’s landscape architecture program are doing innovative research and gathering information on who’s doing the best work in green infrastructure across the country,” said Cheraine Stanford, producer of “Water Blues, Green Solutions.” “This wealth of knowledge gave us a new perspective about the importance of having green infrastructure that is not only functional but also beautiful so that people love it, are invested in it and take care of it.”

Learn more about the documentary and Penn State’s involvement in green infrastructure at www.waterblues.org.

“Water Blues, Green Solutions” will air at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13, on WPSU-TV.

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Last Updated January 31, 2014