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Davis, California

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Landscape Architecture students get creative with senior projects

Landscape Architecture students spend their entire last year designing a site or researching a subject they have an interest in before publicly presenting it the day before their graduation. All the students develop their own projects and incorporate their interests, making each presentation distinctive and exceptional. Here is a sneak peek of some of the projects that will be presented by the 2011 graduating class.

Matthew Frank

Matthew Frank designed and built a 3,000 square-foot garden in his own backyard. The garden has over 30 different varieties of vegetation and is an example of urban agriculture, the practice of growing food in an urban area.

For the entire month of May, Frank has been living off the numerous produce he has grown in his garden. His diet for May includes mostly vegetables such as potatoes, lettuce, kale and kohlrabi, which is a type of cabbage that will grow almost anywhere. Frank is also raising chickens in his backyard garden and will gather eggs from them.

Frank got his inspiration for his project from a book he read.

“The author was squatting off land in Oakland and she lived off it for an entire month,” Frank said.

Frank credits LDA for teaching him how to make a garden that not only looks picturesque but also provides many functions.

“It’s hard to make something that looks good and works,” he said.

Tyler Christopher Eash

Tyler Christopher Eash sees dancing and landscape architecture as an example of how different art forms can inspire all kinds of professional fields.

“Sections [of the project] include movement mapping to create form, the body as a landscape, chance and improvisation, the personification of place [and] designing for experience,” Eash said.

Eash was inspired by the deceased Landscape Architecture pioneer Lawrence Halprin and his wife, Anna, who was an innovator in the field of dance. Eash has even danced with Anna Halprin and discussed her late husband’s work with her.

In addition, Eash has choreographed a dance show relating to his thesis and he is already planning a dance work with a textile and design professor who deals with landscape for the upcoming fall.

“In the art realm, artists are held to a higher obligation to create work with meaning, but are also permitted many freedoms. My thesis portrays the landscape architect as an artist, and later defines relevant creative pathways,” Eash said.

His dance show, which will be free to the general public, will take place on June 10 at 8 p.m. in Wright Hall’s Main Stage.

Inna Nosenko

Inspired by flower gardens, floral print dresses are a very popular piece of clothing. Inna Nosenko’s project focuses on something similar to that. It examines how the design of a landscape garden can be represented through fabric manipulation.

“My goal is to make a stunning piece of artwork,” Nosenko said.

It was Nosenko’s love and fascination of clothing as well as the fact that she liked creating things with her hands that instigated the idea of developing a project in which she will look at clothing through the eyes of a landscape architect.

“I am essentially translating what I see in the gardens I have chosen to work with onto the human body. I am modeling on the human body from inspiration of these parks and gardens,” Nosenko said.

Kevin Ohle

The students of Mount Gleason Middle School in Sunland, Calif., will have a new vegetable garden, designed by Kevin Ohle.

“I’m giving them a design package so that the project can work from season to season and from start to finish,” Ohle said.

Ohle is very keen about educating children about urban agriculture and environmental sustainability from a younger age. With the garden he is developing, lessons can be interactive and hands-on, making it more fun for the students to learn. Ohle’s vegetable farm is environmentally-friendly, using vine stands handmade from recycled bottles and more.

Ohle believes that having partnerships inside the school and outside in the community will ensure that the garden receives adequate funding. Volunteer hours will contribute to its upkeep.

“I think in order to learn and make process, people need to have fun while working on it,” Ohle said.

Rodrigo Ormachea

Rodrigo Ormachea’s intrigue with the less-thought-of park users, such as the homeless, day laborers and vendors, gave him the idea for his research project on temporary uses of public space. He researches how individuals use public space for their own need, how they take small public spaces and make it their own.

“My project is trying to, as a designer, accommodate all kinds of people for public space. It’s kind of experimental and it’s an exploration of these types of users,” Ormachea said.

During his research, Ormachea was interested by graffiti artists who were able to use public space and turn it into their own space to satisfy their own desires; that is to be able to create installation work in large public spaces. Although Ormachea knows it’s illegal to just spray paint anywhere, Ormachea sees that as an example of how there are many different ways that design can be used and seen.

“It’s constantly changing. You discover things when you’re trying different things. Change is encouraged,” Ormachea said.

Elliot Arthur

If there is one thing Elliot Arthur dislikes, it is how there is a huge dependence on technology when doing design projects and how some students don’t have a firm enough grasp on design basics.

“I’m demoting the occurrence of pretty graphics covering bad design,” Arthur said.

It is Arthur’s love of design, especially the process of design, which is the propelling idea behind his thesis. Arthur is working on a commentary about the effects of technology on societal and cultural tendencies in America and how it affects the work produced by undergrad LDA students.

“I feel if students lose the ability to comprehend the design process, then they lose the ability to create engaging spaces. The design process is of utmost importance to me,” Arthur said.

Arthur hopes that with his thesis he can shed some light on how technology can sometimes negatively impact the design process and offer ways to create a solution. Arthur emphasizes that interpersonal communication of all kinds is extremely valuable.

“Talking to people face to face is better than talking to them through a computer,” he said.

John Gainey

When John Gainey discovered that the 200-year-old Valley Oak from the Arboretum, which had been dying for quite some time, was going to be removed, his heart broke a little.

It was from his heartbreak that Gainey was inspired to create something celebrating the magnificent Oak.

“Rather than chip it up and make it into firewood, I wanted to celebrate it,” Gainey said.

His project involves the reuse of the Valley Oak’s site to create a specific environmental installation within the UC Davis Shields Oak Grove which will draw attention to the Oak Gove and use the tree to educate visitors about important ecological processes, as well as promote the care and preservation of California Oaks. Gainey is working with the arboretum on his project and his installation, which will include educational signs, will be up at possibly at the end of the month or in mid-June.

Group Projects

Although many students worked on their own individual projects, several of them came together to create group projects. Groups submit designs and if they are approved, they can then build their own designs. The group designs are currently in the backyard of the LDA department, Hunt Hall.


It was the shape and design of the cocoon that was a major concept of this group project by Rodrigo Ormachea, Kevin Ohle, Gabino Marquez and Michael Clarke. A cocoon shape, which is small on one end and eventually expands to a larger opening on the other side.

Although the group designed the project, numerous people helped them set up the creation, which is made entire from wood. They first made mounds in the dirt and shaped it. They then laid rebars, which is similar to laying out the grid. Rebars are steel rods used in construction for re-enforcement for concrete. Instead of concrete, they tied on wood and laid more wood inside to form benches and added plants and lights as the final touch.

Presently, LDA students love to take a break from studio inside the cocoon.

Relocated Ranch

Designed by John Gainey and Elliot Arthur, it is aptly named “Relocated Ranch,” for the pair actually went to a cattle ranch in Denair, Calif., to collect all the raw materials for creation. “Relocated Ranch” looks like a group of benches surrounding a large egg shaped couch, which has a pillow inside it for relaxation.

It was made in four phases: the seat, the cantilever table, bench seating, and ground planks and planting. It is an example of innovative design using discarded materials, for the chair is a hayrack that was cut in half and made into a chair.

“Relocated Ranch” is a model of repurposing and how manipulation of materials can make them into something else that can be enjoyable as well.

MICHELLE RUAN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.


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