This depth studio addresses landscape design and rural landscape planning associated with resource extraction, including design issues affecting communities in target watersheds. The class focuses on scenario development and impact assessment in the context of landscape conservation.
Resource extraction and landscape conservation are often seen as fundamentally incompatible, resulting in conflicts between issues such as job creation vs. watershed protection. As land resources become more valuable we must find ways to achieve both.
The course purposefully maintains a general definition. For some students, the focus may be on evaluating existing development – comparing what is occurring currently to what is proposed, assessing the likely performance of current and future plans, and identifying possible, solutions that will help the sustainability of communities currently struggling to meet their needs or address new challenges. For other students, the focus may be on developing a means of communicating to local communities the importance of development plans that conserve the natural and cultural resources of the region. Regardless of the specific focus a student or small group selects (which will have to be approved by the course instructor), the course will be divided into two main phases:
- Develop a background understanding of the impacts of energy development on the landscape, identifying those issues that are amenable to design solutions and communication strategies for disseminating designs and plans to a dispersed audience with little exposure to professional design.
- Completion of a project, selected from the list below, that addresses a problem of interest, through providing adequate background and problem definition, identifying the current situation, proposing solutions that will benefit communities and land-owners, and communicating via a publicly-accessible web-based portal.
Fall Color Tourism: “Leaf peepers” crowd the region’s roads during October seeking out the best color in the best locations for viewing and photography. This project identifies the extent of the fall color resource and the viewshed and vista protections needed to ensure the best viewing as well as the land use and economic development implications of those protections.
Aging in Place: The northern tier counties in Pennsylvania are among the oldest in average age of population, as a result school leavers departing and new people seeking rural quality of life for retirement and vacation. Design responses to these two factors ensuring landscapes where young people want to stay, and new residents want to put down roots.
Historic Route 6: The longest continous US highway, originally stretching from Provincetown, MA to Bishop, CA, Route 6 traverses the northern tier of Pennsylvania a once prosperous, now struggling route that is crowded with gas industry vehicles. This project identifies future gas development, characterizes the landscape that sustains it, and provides design solutions and guidance for preserving essential landscape character.
Sense of Place: People expect the places they live and visit to be resilient and unchanging. Identify design strategies that accommodate the economic and social changes arising from energy development, bring improvements to the infrastrcuture of northern tier communities and maintain strong sense of place for the communities and their surrounding areas.
Wastewater Disposal: Hydraulic fracturing results in the return to the surface of highly saline flow-back water. Some of that water is reclaimed for further use, the remainder goes to water treatment plants or to injection wells. Design guidelines for locating and minimizing the impacts of these small industrial sites.
Historic Sites and Landscapes: Heritage sites in the northern tier are undocumented, known locally or understudied and in this economically-changed area, preservation of sites and places has never been a priority (It never had to be). What plans and measures at both site and landscape-scale must be put in place to protect historic sites and their contexts, so that they can co-exist alongside economic development.
Energy Futures: We are an energy society. Once the ready availability of fossil energy reduces, what are our options and how are they shaped-by or themselves shape the landscapes we live in? In the light of demographic changes likely to occur in the northern tier, design landscapes at the basin level that can be self-sustaining for energy, food, and potable water.
Water as Asset and Threat: Land-use change can improve and degrade water quality, while increasing or decreasing prospects of downstream flooding. Design landscape-scale responses to agricultural, urban, suburban and energy-related economic development that improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, and reduce the risk of flooding on the Susquehanna.
Habitat and Corridors: Valued habitat continues to be fragmented by urban and infrastructure development and the spatially dispersed energy industry. Using the existing fabric of forested and natural areas, design means to establish or conserve habitat networks explicitly targeting improved habitat for native species and conditions less desirable for invasive species.
Winners and Losers: While land-owners with acreage close to transmission pipelines have profited from natural gas leases and royalties, lower income non land-owners bear increased costs for housing and the impacts of more traffic and environmental degradation. Design strategic investments of energy development windfalls that turn losers into winners.
FINAL PROJECTS / STUDENTS:
Food, Water, Energy Futures – By: Allyson Caruso, Chris Frye, and Jeffrey Holzer
Habitat and Corridors – By: Shane Brown and Austin Thomas
Historic Sites and Landscapes – By: Amy Foster and Shannon Kenyon
Recreation – By: Alia Horvath and Katie Moffatt
Route 6 – By: Kevin Gavaghan and Katie Nguyen
Sense of Place – By: Li Bai and Abhinandan Bera
Water – By: Jess Fegley and Tara Mazurczyk
**Keep in mind that the final projects may have developed differently than what the project description entails.
September 5, 2014 – Class Field Trip and Site Visit to Tioga County
December 3, 2014 – Final Presentation to Community of Tioga County