Community and Ecosystem Influence
From Design 7 Landscape Studio with Prof. Kimberlee Douglas
Originally a pollinator corridor project, this semester-long project evolved into an ideological corridor for civic engagement and ecological enhancement. Working through COVID-19 and in the urban context of Philadelphia, Darby Mann and Benjamin Nardi navigated multiple challenges that ended up enhancing their final product. Their concept statement follows below.
Civic unrest has been a testament that congregation & expression is our most vital asset.
Communities have been in search of justice and change, fighting for their voices to be heard.
We want to give people a canvas to illustrate their hurt, identity, and dreams. These ideals take form by building upon the existing infrastructure with art & ecology at different scales.
Color & movement indicates a thriving community which is why we are weaving it into this urban fabric.
B.S. Landscape Architecture '21
Listening to Love in Passing by Adeodat Warfield
I found landscape architecture actually through the school's website. I was interested in the architecture program and toured the school my junior year of high school. Then, I met with Kim and fell in love with the program and what landscape architects do. In my senior year of high school, I got an internship with Longwood Gardens thinking it would set me up for some training in the field, but I quickly found out that’s not really what landscape architects do. It did, however, get me familiar with plants which really exciting for me. Jefferson's landscape program emphasizes the relationship with communities, in our case, or the client. I never really thought about how much power or reach I could have as a landscape architect in people's lives, and that’s what drives me now. In the future, I want to be involved in designing for communities and creating equitable green spaces, making sure everyone has a strong relationship with the landscape as I did growing up.
B.S. Landscape Architecture '21
Listening to Oh Devil by Electric Guest
How did I choose this major? I was always interested in drawing and art, and I was fascinated by being outside and innately curious about how systems work. I was initially interested in landscape engineering and then found landscape architecture, which was a perfect fit for what I wanted to do. PhilaU, at the time, was good because it’s a smaller school, and I didn't want to go to a big state school with like 30,000 kids. And I could run cross country track here as well. I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into this major. I was expecting to design parks and stuff like that, and I didn’t realize how important the community aspect was to me until later in the program. You’re so heavily involved in the community aspect within all of our studios, so that was something where I found passion in. And what am I doing next? I want to go out west and explore and see new people and new landscapes and whatnot. That’s the goal, but if not, Philadelphia is an awesome city as well.
"Communities have been told what to do and have been designed for, not designed with. [It's about] going in and just listening and absorbing a lot of knowledge and information about the people."
Community Engagement: Ben's Watercolor Proposed Design Intervention
Landscape majors don't normally create concept models, what inspired this model?
Proposed Ecological & Art Typologies
What did studio and collaboration look like for you both during quarantine and how did such a
Darby: Well I think last spring was definitely hard because it seemed like the end of the world. Everyone went home well Ben and Jenna both went home and we were still working on the same site together. So the fall wasn't so bad because of all of us we’re back in Philly again and we would had a socially distanced in person studio. I think for at least Ben and I working together, we were able to work just as much as normal.
Ben: I think even more than normal, more than before honestly.
Darby: There were more opportunities for us actually. Because there wasn't organized community engagement we did it on our own. We really spent a lot of our own time getting to know all of West Philadelphia very personally, I think we would go out almost twice a week. It was like the weekend after the election it was really warm for some reason, Ben and I just went out and everyone was out, there was such a live scene it was so exciting. That I think really gave us a motivation to finish really strong with purpose because we saw how how many people was using the site and the energy within the neighborhood. Currently it's a little different because we’re all doing our capstones and such as individual projects but we still like to visit each other sites.
Ben: The site of West Philadelphia really was our studio at that point. This project was really in terms of collaboration a lot of fun and we were both good at bouncing ideas off of each other. We were out on Darby’s site last week and we had a drone actually, there’s always fun stories.
Ben: But we were unfortunately inspired by a lot of the social injustices of people of color, which prompted reaction of a lot of the West Philadelphia residents. But we got to spend a lot of time with those people during marches and gatherings and for us it was really cool to see how these public spaces can serve more than just green space. These places can become areas of gathering to share ideas and can become civic space where people can congregate. Our project believe it or not started as a pollinator corridor and we still accomplished that ecologically but the project ended up being more of an ideological corridor about spreading ideas, values, and expression.
Darby: Yes, expression that's the word we kept going back to. We wanted to give the community their own canvas- a designated space that would connect them to not only green space but inherently contribute to a better and healthier quality of life.