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K-State Today

June 18, 2021

Landscape architecture graduate student projects receive special recognitions

Submitted by Thom Jackson

Graduate students from the landscape architecture and regional & community planning department in Kansas State University's College of Architecture, Planning and Design, recently earned honors for their projects from two award programs of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Prairie Gateway Chapter awards and the Central States awards. The Prairie Gateway Chapter represents Kansas and western Missouri. Central States ASLA represents eight U.S. states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas 

Earning an Honor Award from the Prairie Gateway Chapter and the Award of Excellence from Central States ASLA for the project "Higher Ground" were graduate students Erich Herbel, Lehigh; August Titus, Montezuma; Ashley Akers, Newton; Paden Chesney and Julia Kappelman, both from Olathe; Grant Pasowicz, Overland Park; Jessie Carmichael, Plainville; Madelyn Cole, Blue Springs, Missouri; Haley Weinberg, Des Peres, Missouri; Nicholas Ferrara and Kastasya Jackson, both from Kansas City, Missouri; Rainie Madsen, Frederick, Maryland; and Mikala Fitzgerald, Kearney, Nebraska. The project was the focus of a summer 2019 Community Planning and Design studio led by associate professor Howard Hahn. The Excellence Award is reserved for the highest quality projects.

"After extensive site analysis and mapping, the 'Higher Ground' studio presented four design scenarios for how redevelopment around a busy Manhattan interchange quadrant could be envisioned to be more resilient against Wildcat Creek flooding," Hahn said. "Each scenario explored a dominant theme characterized by either urban agriculture, family-oriented development, a health-oriented district, or high-density business/corporate development."

While the studio research project was launched in 2019, it served as the catalyst for the current planning initiative being completed by the city of ManhattanFlint Hills Regional Council and 2006 APDesign alumna Wendy Van Duyne, senior associate at Stantec.

"The students’ thoughtful approach to design and their exceptional presentation skills has proven to inspire the city," said Chad Bunger, assistant director of community planning for the city of Manhattan and a 2008 APDesign graduate. "Their designs and presentations have led the city to search for further planning projects and funding sources to help with redevelopment of the area."

Earning an Honor Award from the Prairie Gateway Chapter and a Merit Award from Central States ASLA for the project "SPARK: A Vision for Martin Luther King Jr. Square Park" were August Titus, Montezuma; Julia Kappelman, Olathe; Grant Pasowicz, Overland Park; Haley Weinberg, Des Peres, Missouri; Mikala Fitzgerald, Kearney, Nebraska; and Si Chen, Shanghai, China. The project was developed and presented under the guidance of associate professor Jessica Canfield

According to Canfield, the project challenged students to explore how strategic investments, improved connections and community empowerment can lead to a more resilient, better connected, heathier and vibrant park space for the eastside Kansas City, Missouri. Working collaboratively, students illustrated how an underutilized park can become a multi-beneficial amenity in an underserved community — providing essential social services while improving degraded environmental conditions.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Square Park, or MLK Park, is a 42-acre site along the Brush Creek Greenway. Over the years, the park site, which is essentially a vacant lot, has seen a genuine interest from the community to be developed — with ideas ranging from minimal interventions to very extreme changes.

The team of the six graduate students worked collaboratively over one semester to develop a vision plan for the MLK Park site. Students collaborated with 2004 APDesign graduate Tim Duggan of Phronesis and local stakeholders to inform and strengthen the work, taking into consideration the community’s need, the site’s physical opportunities and constraints, and future impacts of climate change. The aim of the students was to develop visionary, yet feasible, design and programming ideas that the community and city could use as a starting point for conversations on implementation.

This project was undertaken as part of the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Green New Deal Superstudio initiative. With a central focus on social justice, the students sought to transform the park into a signature destination to play, gather and connect, for the surrounding neighbors and greater Kansas City community. Most notably, the site will exemplify MLK's legacy by uniting communities around a welcoming, safe and inclusive park within a rejuvenated greenway.