Ecologies, Techniques, Technologies II

This course is required for all first-year MLA I and MLA I AP students.

Topography is one of the primary and most powerful elements of landscape architecture, forming a foundation for plant growth, habitat, the flow of water and energy, and human experience. This course is dedicated to developing students’ facility in reading the land and manipulating topography and water flow through a variety of representational tools with a focus on plan drawings of contours, slopes and spot elevations, models, and section drawings. Students will learn techniques that cumulatively build toward an ability to resolve difficult grading problems with many layers of complexity.

The course begins with reading the land and understanding the relationship between the ground surface and water flow. Topics move on to geomorphology; the process of grading and contour manipulation; the conventions of grading representation, terminology and communication in the construction industry; as well as accessibility codes. The second part of the course focuses on water quality and quantity, introducing techniques used to calculate the amount of water flowing over a site and the various ways that the topography can be manipulated to slow, convey, filter, collect or disperse water to help improve its quality and control water flow emanating from a range of storm events. The case studies and precedents presented throughout the course help to illustrate a broad range of approaches to problem solving and the act of sculpting the land.

This course focuses on the agency of landform and water flow in the creation and design of landscape. At the end of the course, students will be able to manipulate contours toward a given intention and will understand the factors that contribute to stormwater volumes and flows and ways to embrace and incorporate those factors toward a desired design intent. 
During this course, students will learn to:
– Read the land and water, manipulate contours and become familiar with conventions for drawing and communicating intents
– Design topography for human experience
– Collect and clean stormwater
– Support living systems.

The course is taught as a series of lectures and individual, short-term exercises that focus on core competencies, and one longer-term design exercise.  Live lectures will be supplemented with asynchronous resources such as pre-recorded lectures, recordings of select class lectures, and written primers. Instructors anticipate that some shifts may be required during the term to respond to yearly shifts in student needs.

Each week will typically include two class sessions of 1.25 hours each (2.5 hrs total), consisting of one lecture session attended by all students, and one ‘section’ session dedicated to a smaller group of students. Section sessions typically will be dedicated toward questions and deeper dives into the ongoing assignments, and some time to work on assignments. MLA I and AP students will be divided equally into each section. Assignments will require additional time outside of class. Assignment deadlines are focused on the first half of term, and sections toward the end of term are more focused on lectures and visiting lecturers.

Prerequisites: Experience drafting 2-dimensional plan and section drawings to scale in Autocad or Rhino.