Landscape architecture students propose designs for planted meadow ecosystem

May 15, 2019

On April 25, Penn State landscape architecture students presented their end-of-project poster presentations for a proposed planted meadow ecosystem located along Oak Road. Students were required to create their own illustrations of a miniature ecosystem that could be potentially implemented at the project site. 

The project, titled the "Oak Road Meadow Project," served as a course assignment for both undergraduate and graduate landscape architecture students. Students were tasked with designing the general layout of the project and planning some of the potential features of the meadow, such as seating along the walkway through the meadow, an entry sign, a pollinator garden and locations for foliage. Sustainability was an important factor in many of the designs. In particular, the lighting throughout the meadow was often designed to use sustainable energy, like solar-cells, as a means of powering the lights.

The classes were taught by the Stuckeman School's Lacey Goldberg, instructor of landscape architecture, and Kenneth Tamminga, distinguished professor of landscape architecture. According to Tamminga, there were several goals of the project and one of the goals was to showcase an alternative method of making landscaping at Penn State more sustainable. “We hope it successfully demonstrates that there are more sustainable approaches to land cover than mown turf, particularly in areas that aren’t needed for turf-related activities.” 

Along with this objective, Tamminga wanted to educate his students on what designed ecosystems offer to the surrounding area, like “biodiversity, sustainable storm water management, scientific inquiry, and aesthetic enjoyment through all seasons.” The assignment took students over five weeks to complete.

Tamminga has been working with the landscape architects who conceived this project, Derek Kalp and Tom Flynn from the Office of the Physical Plant (OPP). The three have been meeting regularly with the University Park Tree Commission for several years, often discussing naturalizing the campus’s landscape. 

OPP commissioned the project and facilitated operations at the project site. Resources like technical drawings and a broad project framework were also supplied to students by OPP. 

Following the project’s conclusion, Tamminga believes the assignment was beneficial for his students. “My students were excited to be part of a potential paradigm shift in how the campus landscape looks and sustainably functions. It was a breeze to motivate them because they understood that they were collectively contributing something real and meaningful.”

Tamminga is hopeful for the future of the project and said it has the “potential to be catalytic and prototypical.”

Last Updated May 28, 2019