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Festival of Places Brings Off-Campus Program Alive

Students construct scenes from Berlin, Lisbon, Kyoto, Barcelona and Athens

ESF Fifth-year landscape architecture students who participated in the Off-Campus Experiential Studio last fall constructed scenes with the look and feel of locations around the world Feb. 20 in ESF's Alumni (Nifkin) Lounge.

The 150 people who attended were treated to scenes from Berlin, Lisbon, Kyoto, Barcelona and Athens, and enjoyed a sample of food from each country while looking at the students' individual projects, journals and slideshow presentations.

During the fall of the landscape architecture students' fifth year at ESF, they travel abroad and study topics of individual interest. The students then capture, through journal entries and sketches, their educational experiences and the environment and culture of the country they visited.

The College's annual Festival of Places provides students with the opportunity to share their individualized studies with friends, family, faculty, administrators, alumni and students. Students recreated their experience by building replicas of the cities they visited out of paper, PVC pipes, paint, photographs, illustrations, plants and artifacts.

The highlight of the event was the annual George F. Earle Lecture presented by John Shields (BLA '80), director of Land Planning/Concept Development for Walt Disney Imagineering. Shields directed one of the largest projects Disney ever attempted, Disney's Animal Kingdom, which recreates Africa. Shields and his team recreated Africa on about 100 acres of land to include berms, moats, collapsing bridges and native-looking plants and roads, all while keeping the public and animals safe.

"The most interesting challenge was figuring out how to make safety barriers invisible to the naked eye," Shields said. "We've had to go back and change a few things. We gave the monkeys a great tree to inhabit and we built them a moat to keep them in because they can't swim, but the moat we built didn't keep them in very long. They soared right over the thing from the trees."

Shields said his team wanted every aspect of the park and the village of the Animal Kingdom to resemble Africa as much as possible. "We put animals' tracks and dead branches in the walkways around the village to get that real feel of what Africa is like," he said. Much of what people see at the Animal Kingdom is landscape said Shields.

The Festival of Places is sponsored by the Landscape Architecture Department, the LAND|scape Club, and the Undergraduate Student Association.