2009 Teaching and Learning Symposium

2:30-4:30 p.m., April 21, 2009
HUB Ballroom

Session Description



Design Studios with "Real World" Clients

Iain M Robertson (Landscape Architecture)

Landscape Architecture design studios have a long-established tradition of working on "real-world" projects with real clients providing students with a broader array of learning opportunities than course confined to ivy-shrouded rooms within the ivory tower. These learning opportunities are central to acquiring the discipline's skills and practicing its techniques and are not merely peripheral "service" contributions.

The showcased studio worked with Tacoma's Greater Metro Parks Foundation, 5th grade children from McCarver Elementary School and professionals from city agencies to develop designs for a neighborhood park on the school's grounds.

  1. How can one maximize the professional learning potential of service studios
  2. How should a second-year undergraduate landscape design studio be structured to facilitate the transition from coursework confined to academic settings to working with a diverse array of real clients including school children, potential users of their designs?
  3. Studio interactive critiques are a method that provides frequent one-on-one discussion between instructor and students.
  4. By requiring students to define their own design goals; incorporate user desires (learned through a design charrette with the 5th grade class); respond to client agency requirements: and think of the site and its context as a "client" too, students produced more responsive, thoughtful and "better" designs than if the project requirements had been provided by the instructor.

As a result of their commitment to these clients, design students demonstrated a high degree of passion and conviction about their design work. I learned, yet again, that if one invites students to engage in work that they perceive as meaningful and valuable one can have faith that they will respond magnificently.


Index of Symposium Presenters