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Honor Award for Excellence in Landscape Architecture
Natural world provides best education
The Keene State College Natural Science Courtyard is a collaborative, creative approach to one of landscape architecture’s next great design challenges – redefining the landscape of buildings constructed during the post WWII building boom. As colleges decide whether to demolish or save these structures, landscape architects will join this dialog and creatively re-design these often featureless outdoor spaces.
This project was an opportunity to redefine the landscape of education, motivate students to think in the greater context, make them aware of their surroundings, their place in the community and the natural world.
“Tremendous value was created by significantly transforming a limited amount of space,” said the awards jury. “The university made a great investment in this project,” they added.
College President Yarosewick said, “Our science center reflects the quality of its educational experience. It will be a place that supports the new way that science is demonstrated, learned, and practiced. It will be a place for sharing the process of scientific inquiry.”
The 7,750 square foot courtyard reflects sustainable design practices and geology is the unifying component. Paving patterns represent geologic strata and processes. Bluestone paving begins at the entrance and continues into the lobby and courtyard. Inside, the paving turns on a diagonal “fault line,” rich with bands of stone representing geological layering, folding, faulting, erosion, and volcanism. Boulders from the region define character and scale. Small boulders are used for seating and moved by faculty for students to find and identify as part of their coursework.
The stone was selected with geology faculty and chosen for beauty, durability, and suitability to convey geologic history.
Gordon Leversee, dean of the school of sciences and social sciences said, “I find it hard to imagine an architectural landscape feature that could relate more to the heart of an institution.”
Botany faculty required an evolutionary walk through New Hampshire plant groups including: mature woodland, woodland edge, and meadow contained in hedgerows. Plants were selected for natural character, aesthetic contribution, role in a specific ecosystem, and how they represent evolutionary change. They included mosses, ferns and lichens-considered to be among the oldest living things on earth.
“Creating a living representation of our landscape reminds us that we are interconnected with a complex world; the courtyard gives us that reminder as it soothes us in the way nature always does,” explains David Moon, executive director.
Keene State College