e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Landscape Architecture Students Activate ESF Quad 9/23/2020

LA Students in Quad

By Karen B. Moore

How do you re-invigorate a campus quad amid a pandemic that involves social distancing rules? Landscape architecture students at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) have set out to do just that.

Students in Rachel Leibowitz's and Robin Hoffman's sophomore design studio designed ways to "Activate the Quad" and will be showcasing those ideas from 2 to 5 p.m. Sept. 24 and 29 on the ESF Quad.

Although students returned to campus in August, the Quad - traditionally a place bustling with activity - has remained relatively quiet. Hoffman, associate professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture, hopes the temporary on-campus installations will bring people outside and provide a little fun for the ESF community "because we all need that right now," she said.

Over the two sessions, five groups of students will have 60 minutes to place, experience, and remove their installations designed to activate the space and encourage people to "see, understand, and experience the Quad in a new or different way," according to Hoffman.

During the installations, all social distancing and masking guidelines will be followed.

The sophomore foundation design studio introduces students to the basics of design. "We're not starting them out by designing a garden or the stereotypical things people think landscape architects do," said Hoffman. "We're teaching them about design principles, for example, scale balance, contrast, texture. Everything you would consider as you begin to develop a design proposal for every project."

Before designing their installations, the students participated in several exercises. They went on a walking tour of downtown Syracuse visiting the Everson Museum of Art, Columbus Circle, the State Tower Plaza, and Hanover and Clinton squares.

"We had them look at all of those existing places and study them in terms of their scale, enclosure, and texture, etc." said Hoffman, "then we had them study the Quad in the same way."

Students did unobtrusive observations on the Quad to see how people were using the space at the heart of the ESF campus, and they watched an episode of Craft in America (PBS) that showcases how the landscape influences and shapes the art of the featured artists.

"The students had to look at the Quad and ask, 'what can we place into the Quad that will reveal a quality of the Quad that people don't typically see? Or what can we reveal about the culture of ESF, or what can we put in the Quad to just make people smile?'" said Hoffman.

The class is being respectful about getting people to engage in the Quad under current social distancing guidelines, according to Hoffman. "We're not setting up something where people are going to have to be close together, to view it."