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Spring 2010 - Navy Pier

Destination Purdue > Spring 2010 - Navy Pier

Team has designs on Navy Pier

By Janelle Dixon

Pearce, Bresh and Johnson

Photo by Janelle Dixon

(From left) Malarie Pearce, Martin Bresch and Ryan Johnson review the conceptual design for Chicago's Navy Pier. The landscape architecture students received advice and feedback from established professionals on their design as part of a senior landscape architecture course.

Senior Purdue landscape architecture students are showing off their talents by creating new landscape designs for Chicago's Navy Pier that contains foundations, sculptures, buildings and stone paving.

Last fall, a landscape architecture course presented students with the unusual opportunity to create and design a landscape while working with professional critics.

One of those critics was John David Mooney. His resume includes work for the queen of England and pope. He has designed sculptures, paintings, hand-sewn designs and more. One of his works is a sculpture on display in the Vatican Observatory at Castle Gandolfo in Italy.

The students won't be working only with established professionals like Mooney; they also will be involved with other highly respected individuals.

"It is a great opportunity, because the mayor of Chicago, Purdue alumni, architects and critics are invited to see the students' work," said Kent Schuette, clinical associate professor of landscape architecture and the course's instructor.

Working with such professionals impressed Malarie Pearce, a senior landscape architecture major from New Carlisle, Ind. "Purdue gives great opportunities," she said. "They have brought in four professionals to help us with our designs."

Each group worked with one of four critics. The students could call on their critic at any time to answer questions about their designs, or to ask for advice about their ideas.

The groups worked through the middle of the semester on their conceptual designs, and then traveled to Chicago to present their ideas and get feedback. After that, they continued working individually until the end of the semester when they returned to Chicago to present their individual portions of the project at the John Mooney Foundation.

One student group called its design "A Celebration of the Lake." The students spent several weeks creating their designs and working with critics to finalize the details.

Ryan Jacobson, a senior landscape architecture major from Libertyville, Ill., and the group's leader, was very excited about his role with the team. "I am the oldest of three brothers used to taking charge," he said. "Our project is coming right along and we just received positive feedback from our critic."

His group's design spotlighted Chicago's lakefront through all five senses. It focused on the sense of hearing by including structures that amplify the sounds of Lake Michigan's waves. It showcased the sense of feel by incorporating a balcony where waves crash just below a spot people stand. And a market offering a variety of foods highlighted the sense of taste.

All team members drew from their different backgrounds to contribute to the overall design. Martin Buresch, a first-year graduate student in landscape architecture from Vienna, Austria, brought a different perspective. "Buresch has seen a lot of different things in Europe, and he is able to bring a lot to the group," Jacobson said. "European cities are said to be much more pedestrian friendly than the major cities in the United States."

One particular European landmzrk influenced the Purdue team. "Buresch gave us the idea to design a tunnel that goes under Lake Michigan, much like the Oresunds tunnel that he saw in Sweden," said Jacobson.

Jacobson said his greatest challenge was the team's presentation. He does not feel he is the strongest presenter, and said he sometimes goes blank when getting ready to present. He worked to overcome that challenge by reminding himself about the basics of successful presentations.

"We must tell people what we are doing,t hen tell them again,a nd then tell them again, and then in the conclusion tell them again so they get the big picture," Jacobson said.

As their design progressed over the semester, group members said their greatest challenge was managing their time and setting deadlines. "I have to figure out when things should be due, and how they should be presented," Jacobson said. "I have to set all of the deadlines for the group and make sure everything is running on time."

Besides the opportunity of seeing their designs used, the course helps students prepare for graduation and find jobs. Their work will be something the students can add to their professional portfolios. "The students will have something to show what they did when they graduate," said Schuette.

What's more, their designs could influence the professional landscape architects who are working on the Navy Pier project.