Student-Built Rain Garden Opens to Residents
Posted: October 1, 2012
The unveiling of the student-built rain garden at Lee Hall was an exiting event for students, faculty, and staff.
The successful partnership between University Housing and the Department of Landscape Architecture continues with the completion of the Lee Hall Rain Garden. A ribbon cutting event was held on Thursday, September 13, 2012, to showcase the project which was designed by four students in the College of Design under the guidance of Assistant Professor Andy Fox as part of his Design Build Landscape Architecture course.
The driving forces behind the project were the drainage issues and flooding problems that had occurred for several years on the west side of Lee Hall. The standing water and swampy conditions made the area less than student friendly.
“Our job was to take care of the soggy issue and design it for students living here, because previously, it was so swampy that they couldn’t use it,” said Danielle Toronyi, one of the four students who completed the project. The three other students involved with the project were Heather Rhymes, Johnson Bullard, and Bob Schafer.
A rain garden is a planted depression that allows rainwater runoff to be absorbed. They are a great way to prevent erosion and pollution by eliminating the degree of storm water runoff. In the case of the Lee Hall rain garden, the absorption of the once standing water makes the space functional and beautiful!
The Lee Hall rain garden design takes its form from the geometry of the building façade and continues with the ground plan, reinforced by the planting materials and other material choices selected. The students wanted to create something very symmetrical, linear, rectilinear, or orthogonal.
“The location was originally a place where students would pass through to get to other places. Today, the student may still pass through the area, but they will be able to spend a little bit more time here—having something beautiful to look at while they are using this space as well,” said Heather Rhymes, another student involved with the project.
“We eyeballed the dimension of the windows and measured as much as we could from the ground across to get those dimensions,” Rhymes and Toronyi indicated. “We tried to reflect the design in the plantings. It is not exact, but the form is there. Those were the driving forces as far as the design process.”
According to Andy Fox, an assistant professor of Landscape Architecture, the unique thing about this particular project versus other projects is that these four students had the opportunity to work with a very experienced contractor, Ricky Hilburn from Campus Landscape Construction Services, who understands both the engineering of the system and the importance for the finished product to look great. Hilburn was able to manage costs early to ensure that budget limitations didn’t impact the visual outcome.
“A project shouldn’t look cheap just because you don’t have a huge budget,” said Fox. “Our collaboration with landscape construction services here on campus was an important part of making this project a reality.”
Another unique element of the project was the ability for students to both design and build the rain garden. “For the most part, we do not construct things in our profession,” said Fox. This opportunity allowed students to see their design through to completion.
The Lee Hall rain garden is one project in a series of projects to beautify the areas around residence halls through form and function. For more information on any of the projects constructed as a result of the partnership between University Housing and the Department of Landscape Architecture, visit the following:
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