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Olmsted Scholar Feature: A Little Dreamer: Paper Airplanes and Sustainability

By Qiyi Li, 2014 University Olmsted Scholar

Paper airplanes connect us with childhood dreams and memories through individual attachments that are unique to one’s personal experiences. My undergraduate independent honors project was a month-long art installation in the five-story atrium of the Iowa State University College of Design Building during December 2013. The work was originally scheduled to be in place for only one week, but Design College Dean Luis Rico-Gutierrez was so impressed that he requested an extension to a full month so that the installation became the setting for the fall semester graduation ceremony.

planes-01Professor Michael Martin from the Department of Landscape Architecture served as my honors project advisor, providing advice and support during the conceptual and developmental stages of the project. I installed the project over a period of several days during the week of Thanksgiving break.

Initially inspired by artist Dawn Ng’s “I Fly Like Paper,” my installation responded to its architectural frame as these airplane “vectors” connected each of the atrium’s four balconies to the opposite wall near the ground level. I strung 634 paper airplanes on nearly invisible fishing line catenaries, linking one side of the atrium with the other through gracefully descending arcs. These arcs provided a counterpoint to the narrow and vertical atrium; the introduction of this new geometry created fresh perspectives on the experience of the rectilinear space from multiple levels and a variety of viewpoints. The planes themselves were static and yet they implied motion. Viewers experienced a diversity of psychological responses because of the dynamic aesthetic variations caused by point of view and varying by time of day, since the building’s full-length barrel vault skylight allows sunlight into the atrium.

planes-02Finally, the medium is the message: the 634 paper airplanes were made from sheets of paper discarded from the Design Building’s printing lab. The number of planes reflected the number of trees worldwide that are cut for paper mills every five seconds, based on the rate of four billion trees per year. This was our very own waste paper, dive-bombing its way into our collective consciousness, forcing us to visualize our personal and quotidian contribution to a problem of abstractly global dimensions. The installation utilized public art as a medium to highlight environmental issues and to raise public awareness of paper recycling and sustainable conservation practices.

The installation received recognition and honors from both inside and outside the College. My project was one of three recipients of the university’s “Live Green Award for Excellence in Sustainability” in 2014, and was the only individual (as opposed to team) project among the awardees. I was invited to present the project for the “Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression,” in order to increase public awareness of resource waste. The project has also inspired other interventions: After I graduated, similar “airspace” projects have appeared in the atrium space, transforming an overlooked  “empty” architectural void into a vital ground for public art.

For more information, visit:
http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1054&context=undergradresearch_symposium

planes-03Qiyi Li graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree and a secondary major in Environmental Studies from Iowa State University with University Honors. Qiyi is currently continuing her studies in the Master of Landscape Architecture post professional degree program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Meet the 2014 National Olmsted Scholar and Finalists: The Undergraduates

The Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Olmsted Scholars Program is the premier national award and recognition program for landscape architecture students. The program honors students with exceptional leadership potential who are using ideas, influence, communication, service, and leadership to advance sustainable design and foster human and societal benefits.

Here, we showcase the 2014 undergraduate winner and finalists, who were announced last spring. An independent jury of leaders in the landscape architecture profession selected them from a group of 30 undergraduate students nominated by their faculty for being exceptional student leaders. The winner receives the $15,000 undergraduate prize and each finalist receives $1,000.

All of the 2014 Olmsted Scholars will be honored at LAF’s Annual Benefit in Denver on November 21. We hope to se you there!

 

National Olmsted Scholar Erin Percevault of Louisiana State University

Erin discusses her research looking at how renewable energy technologies and policies affect landscape and communities.

 

Finalist Blythe Worstell of the Ohio State University

In this slideshow, Blythe shares how travel, service, and her rustbelt upbringing have shaped her design interests.

 

Finalist Clemente Rico of Arizona State University

Clemente discusses his belief that landscape architecture can be an agent for social and environmental justice and his work to develop future designers.

 

Finalist Viviana Castro of the University of Florida

In this slideshow, Viviana shares her experiences abroad and discusses plans to return to Bogota, Columbia to share her capstone research and visions for rediscovering the Fucha River. 



LAF Offers Second Round of Landscape Performance Education Grants

To accelerate the adoption of landscape performance in design education, LAF is offering five $2,500 mini-grants to select university faculty for the Spring 2015. Participating faculty will work with LAF to develop and test models for integrating landscape performance into standard landscape architecture course offerings, such as research and methods, site planning and analysis, design studios, and other lecture or seminar courses.

studioApplications are now available and will be due Nov 14, 2014. Each application is to include a teaching proposal, which will be evaluated for quality and feasibility by LAF and an independent committee of educators. Grant recipients will be announced in early December.

Download Grant Application

Grant recipients will work closely with LAF and its Education Committee to finalize the teaching proposals, which will then be implemented during the Spring 2015 semester/term. Formal course evaluations will be used to determine the success and replicability of the teaching models tested, including whether specific landscape performance learning objectives are met.

Course materials developed through the Landscape Performance Education Grants are housed in the Resources for Educators section on the LAF website, which offers teaching tools like syllabi, reading lists, and assignments for faculty members interested in teaching landscape performance to the next generation of design professionals. Materials produced from the first round of mini-grants can be found there.

icpifoundation-newThis initiative is made possible by the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute’s Foundation for Education & Research, whose support will allow LAF to award a total of $25,000 in grants to educators, with five grants made in the 2013-2014 academic year and five in 2014-2015.

LPS Collection: Living Architecture

Curated by: Steven W. Peck

stevenpeck

Steven W. Peck, GRP, Honorary ASLA, is the founder and president of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, the North American green roof and wall industry association. Mr. Peck is also the Co-Founder of the World Green Infrastructure Network and publisher of The Living Architecture Monitor quarterly magazine. Since 1996, he has worked to advance the green roof and wall industry by facilitating research and demonstration projects, organizing conferences and workshops, building institutional capacity, lecturing, publishing, and advocating for supportive policies and standards at all levels of government.

 

Case Study Briefs

advocatelutheranAdvocate Lutheran General Hospital Patient Tower
Park Ridge, Illinois

“Views of the hospital’s intensive green roof helped reduced stress and make the hospital stay easier for half of cancer patients surveyed. This demonstrates how green roofs and other living infrastructure can help in the healing and coping process.”


underwoodUnderwood Family Sonoran Landscape Laboratory
Tucson, Arizona

“The southern exposure features a green façade of native vines, which shade and cool the building. This type of green wall offers a fairly low-cost way to beautify, screen, and add function to what would otherwise be disregarded space.”

 

garycomerGary Comer Youth Center
Chicago, Illinois

“This intensive green roof is a working garden that produces over 1000 lbs of organic food annually and functions as an outdoor classroom. The design showcases how green roofs can be integrated with other sustainable systems like light wells and passive climate control.”



klydewarrenKlyde Warren Park
Dallas, Texas

“Green roof systems can be used on a wide range of scales, from a residential roof to a multi-block, at-grade structure over parking or transportation infrastructure. This 5-acre green roof acts as a bridge, tunnel, and park all in one, transforming this part of Dallas.”



Fast Fact Library

The combination of green roofs and green walls can lower ambient temperatures in typical “urban canyon”-like streets, achieving up to a 12.8˚C (23˚F) ambient temperature difference in an arid climate, and 8.4˚C (15.1˚F) in a humid climate. This combination had the greatest effect compared to no vegetation, green roofs only, and green walls (walls covered in vegetation, such as climbing vines) only. Green roofs alone had the second greatest ambient temperature effect, likely due to roofs’ higher exposure to sunlight.

“This study illustrates how various forms of living architecture can be used together to increase impact.”


A green roof test plot at the University of Georgia retained 88% of precipitation for small storms (<2.54 cm), 48% for larger storms (>7.62 cm), and delayed the peak flow by an average of 18 minutes for 31 rain events between Nov 2003 and Nov 2004.

“This is one of many test plots and actual green roof studies that show how green roofs can significantly reduce the volume of stormwater runoff and delay peak flows.”



Benefits Toolkit

Green Roof Energy Calculator (v 2.0)
Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, Portland State University, University of Toronto

“Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) collaborated with researchers at Portland State University and the University of Toronto to develop this free, easy-to-use tool. For GRHC members, we also developed the GreenSave Calculator, which allows users to compare the life cycle costs and benefits of up to three roofing designs.”

Coming This Fall: 20 New Case Study Briefs

This fall, LAF is rolling out 20 new case studies that showcase the environmental, economic, and social benefits of high-performing landscapes. The case studies are part of LAF’s award-winning Landscape Performance Series, an online, interactive set of resources to help you quantify benefits, show value, and make the case for sustainable landscape solutions. By year-end, the searchable database will contain over 100 Case Study Briefs.

2014casestudies-175wFrom the Atlanta Beltline to exemplar public high schools to the Visitors Center at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the new case studies represent a range of locations, scales, and project types. Documented landscape performance benefits include:

  • Influenced the housing choice of 76% of 51 survey respondents who live within one mile of the park. (Renaissance Park, Chattanooga, TN)
  • Reduces hardscape surface temperatures by 30-45°F and maintains playground surface temperatures under 82°F. (George “Doc” Cavalliere Park, Scottsdale, AZ)
  • Promotes physical activity with 70% of survey respondents saying they exercise more since the opening of the Eastside Trail. (Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail, Atlanta, GA)
  • Provides educational opportunities for an estimated 50,000 visitors per year. 68% of 71 survey respondents achieved the learning objectives, answering 7 out of 9 questions correctly. (Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center, Cornell Plantation, Ithaca, NY)
  • Contributed to an 85% increase in the values of properties that were located within a half-block of the streetscape. (1100 Block of Lincoln Road Mall, Miami Beach, FL)

These exemplary projects were documented through LAF’s 2014 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program, a unique research collaboration that matched 7 LAF-funded faculty/student research teams with practitioners from 15 participating design firms. The teams worked together to develop methods to quantify performance benefits and produce the Case Study Briefs. The next CSI program will run March – August 2015 with applications available starting in October.

Visit the LPS Case Study Briefs page to see the latest or follow us on Facebook , LinkedIn , or Twitter to get updates as each new case study is released.