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MLA students float “intriguing projects,” “wild future visions” for Houston bayous

Vignettes by Jonah Susskind (MLA '17) and Louise Roland (MLA '17) for the Fall 2016 option studio

Vignettes by Jonah Susskind (MLA '17) and Louise Roland (MLA '17) for the Fall 2016 option studio "Re-tooling Metropolis."

Students in the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Fall 2016 option studio “Re-Tooling Metropolis: Provisional Landscapes, Emergent Urbanism in Houston’s Eastern Bayous” spent their semester designing innovative urban renewal solutions for an area along Houston’s Buffalo Bayou, one marked by large-scale abandonment and contamination. The Houston Chronicle has highlighted some of their projects, which range from the fanciful transformation of a defunct water treatment plant into community swimming pools to the sublime imagining of a wetland park situated among industrial ruins.

The studio was led by Chris Reed, professor in practice of landscape architecture and co-director of the Master of Landscape Architecture in Urban Design degree program. The student designs were presented last month to members of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the group tasked with redeveloping the area. A sampling of student designs appears below.

Visual exercise by Xun Liu and Ziwei Zhang, members of the Fall 2016 option studio "Re-tooling Metropolis." Image courtesy Xun Liu and Ziwei Zhang.
Visual exercise by Xun Liu (MLA ’17) and Ziwei Zhang (MLA ’17), members of the Fall 2016 option studio “Re-tooling Metropolis.” Image courtesy Xun Liu and Ziwei Zhang.

“This idea of not erasing a place is really important. We’re not trying to cover it up,” Reed told the Chronicle of the student proposals, each of which addresses a different site along the bayou. The study area includes abandoned buildings, industrial silos, and a scrap metal facility, among other design challenges.

As part of the studio, students and faculty travelled to Houston where they met with community leaders, and got to know the bayou on foot, bike, and boat. “We don’t want a solution for New York imported to Houston,” Reed explained.

Images from the student proposals, as well as the Chronicle’s coverage of the presentations to the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, can be found on the Chronicle’s website.