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Pages 3-17

Lower 9th Ward


Wildlife Connect


Writing Sample: Rome Studio


Louisiana Ecotone


Kinetic Landscape




Digital Rendering





Generating Economic Op

Generating Economic Op

Generating Economic Op

g Economic Opportunity: Commitment to Green Infrastructure

st roch french quater


lower 9 commuters

tourists cbd

Generating Economic Op bike rentals st claude bike lanes

The canal cut streets that used to connect, isolating the 9th ward St. Claude remains the only viable pedestrian access to cross the bridge

levee parks



The Lower 9th Ward of New Olreans is physically and metaphorically disconnected from the rest of the city. It is surrounded by water bodies on 3 sides: the Mississippi, the Industrial Canal, and Bayou Bienvenue. The Industrial Canal divided the neighborhood from the rest of the city when it was cut in the 1920’s. Today there remains only one viable crossing of the Industrial canal for non-vehicular traffic, and it is in terrible shape. St. Claude bridge has a 3’ pedestrian walkway on each side. There is no ADA compliant access, and bikers must dismount and carry their bikes up and down stairs on both sides. Bus stops in both directions require the rider to mount 34 steep stairs. Obvious improvements to the infrastructure abounded. See the diagram above for a walk around the structure. The goal of the project for the Lower 9 side of bridge was not only to improve access for residents but to create a space that would improve the entire Lower 9. Our goals for our design included reducing car traffic on the St. Claude Bridge, to provide recreational opportunities, increase property values near the bridge, and to promote the burgeoning tourism trade. Partner Project with Justine Holzman. Her renderings are noted, all others are my work.



bicycle lanes plan
























The first step in our plan was to create a recommendation for a network of bikeable streets.

street sections

Sidewalk Swale width 4’ 4’ Swale Depth 5”

Sidewalk 4’

Driving Lane 13’

Swale width 6’ Swale Depth 5”

Sidewalk 4’

Planting Strip 3.5’

Bike Path 6’

Planting Strip 3.5’

Bike Path 5’

Driving Lane 22’

Bike Path 5’

Bike Path 5’

Driving Lane 20’

Bike Path 5’

Swale width 3’ Swale Depth 5”

Sidewalk 4’

Swale width 4’ Swale Depth 5”

Parking Stall 9’

Driving Lane 13’

Driving Lane 13’

Planting Strip 3’

Swale width 6’ Swale Depth 5”

Swale width 4’ Swale Depth 5”

Bike tours are becoming more popular in New Orleans and the Lower 9, and many residents of the Lower 9 and surrounding neighborhoods rely on bikes as transportation. Bike safety and commitment to green infrastructure are stated goals of the New Orleans city government.

Sidewalk 4’

Our plan started with selecting criteria for E BAY OU AL N AV BIE AN URDA C streets which would be appropriate for NVENUE JO T IAL TR YS R S D retrofitting and improved DU with bike lanes AN IN ST C E L AV neudrainage swales. Streets with wide AUD LO E AV PE E TU tral grounds (medians) or adjacent to levees were selected first, since land is readily available.

Sidewalk 4’

After these streets were selected, connector roads of appropriate size were selected to make a comprehensive network of streets. The plan radiates from the existing bike lanes on St. Claude and surrounds the Lower 9 by making use of existing and proposed levee trails.

Sidewalk 4’

Swale width 3’ Swale Depth 5”

Bike Path 6’

Planting Strip 3’

Driving Lane 13’


Parking Stall 9’

Swale width 4’ Swale Depth 5”

Sidewalk 4’

The sections at left detail the dimensions of the proposed bike lanes and drainage improvements.


Elevated St Claude Plan




10 2 5

Jourdan Ave

Sister St



3 4 6



1 2 3 4 5 6 7



Reynes St

Deslonde St

Tenneessee St


Our plans for the park included adding a drawbridge to the existing St. Claude bridge, creating a handicapped accessible pedestrian bridge from the levee into the neighborhood, creating a ramp to connect the outbound bus stop. A final step in the plan was to create a mixed use productive landscape at the future site of a temporary clinic. All design moves on the land aimed to manage stormwater.

8 ADA Ramp 9 Jourdan St bike lane 10 Pedestrian Tunnels 11 Basketball Courts 12 Future Clinic Site 13 Driveway and parking for St Claude Houses

Existing architecture that is not condemned is protected by historical designation. A small vernacular shotgun house at the corner of Sister Street and St. Claude is in excellent shape, but sits abandoned. This house was integrated into the design of the bridge, and designated for use as a temporary kitchen space until a permanent occupant is found. We also included a children’s playground, basketball courts and small amphitheater. These amenities are available in the 9th Ward, but none exist near the St., Claude Bridge.

7 13

Drawbridge Bus stop Pedestrian Walkway Detention Wetland Cafe Playground St Claude bike lane

The second phase of the plan for improvements to alternative transportation in the Lower 9th Ward was to create a corridor along the unelevated portion of St. Claude that would be accessible only to bikers and pedestrians. Using available city land or empty lots, we developed a strategy to create a small park at the only pedestrian entrance to the Lower 9th Ward.



St Claude North Side Section

Pedestrian tunnel widened and lighting system replaced

ADA accessible ramp channels stormwater from St Claude

Traffic conditions around tunnel are safer with no cars on St Claude

Unused part of tunnel closed and lighting system replaced

Walkway to bus stop widened and made ADA accessible

St Claude South Side Section

Pedestrian swing bridge replaces inadequate walkways and bike lanes

Bus stop moved to top of levee for Stairway access ramp access to levee and bridge

Traffic conditions around tunnel are safer with no cars on St Claude

Abandonned historical house restored and turned into cafe

Wetland pond collects stormwater from st claude that was released down the levee

Pedestrian bridge gives easier access to levee trail, st claude bridge and bus stop

Swales and stormwater planters collect excess rainwater from st claude

Illustration by Justine Holzman



The North Side Section at far left demonstrates how a ADA compliant ramp takes the place of the stairs that currently take pedestrians, bikers and bus riders up the levee. A pedestrian tunnel connecting the North and South side of the elevated portion of St. Claude is widened and the lighting replaced. Meanwhile, this plan eliminates a dangerous situation for car traffic at Sister Street and St. Claude by prohibiting car traffic on the under-used unelevated St. Claude. Perspective rendering of ramp, existing pumping station & path connection. Weep holes on the ramp control stormwater, which is explained on the next page.

The South Side Section demonstrates how the pedestrian access bridge will enter the neighborhood, making access to the drawbridge easier and far safer for bikes, bus riders and pedestrians. A problem on the St. Claude bridge is that water tends to pool during rain events making unsafe driving conditions. Currently, a pipe sends water down the levee, but is inadequate to drain the whole bridge. Our plan extends the pipe from the levee along the bridge and releases it into a small wetland. (See illustration at left)

Perspective rendering of pedestrian bridge, wetland, pedestrian street, and shotgun house. Planters on the right control stormwater on the bridge.


The verticality of the St. Claude bridge creates a unique space in a very flat neighborhood, which we chose to honor with our design.


St Claude Stormwater Management

South Side St. Claude

curb cuts along swales average depth to water table 10-20�


shriever series silty clay loam poorly drained alluvium no bedrock



Stormwater management is important in every neighborhood in New Orleans, but its necessity is felt very acutely by the residents of the Lower 9th Ward. Stormwater on the Elevated portion of St. Claude tends to pool during rain events, making it very unsafe for drivers. We studied soil conditions and existing drainage networks in the area around the bridge. We devised a system that would channel water from the elevated portion of St. Claude into stormwater planters, outfitted with overflows to the existing storm drains.

North Side St. Claude

xisting storm sewers connected as overflow


On the south side, the pedestrian street allowed for large swales to be installed along 4 blocks. These swales were aligned to sit at the edge of the existing street, so the existing street drainage could act as overflow. When the street is torn up to be repaved, an overflow pipe can easily be laid to connect the stormwater planters to the existing drainage. On the north side, the pedestrian ramp was outfitted with weep holes that pass through the cement walkway layer. When water is flowing through the weep holes, it is visible to users that something different is happening on this site.




View down St. Claude showing stormwater planters, swales and pedestrian paths during a heavy rain event. Swales are lined with River Birch (Betula nigra) for absorptive ability and year-round aesthetic appeal.



name shrub tree

planters swales beds



betula nigra platanus occidentalis asimina triloba cornus florida cercis canadensis

betula nigra

iris fulva


calycanthus floridus lobelia spirata

pennisetum setaceum pennisetum alopecuroides muhlenbergia capillaris asparagus densiflorus ‘meyer’

dianthus ferrugineus

echinacea purpurea

muhlenbergia capillaris


equisetum hyemale echinacea purpurea lobelia spirata dietes bicolor iris fulva dianthus ferrugineus helianthus angustifolius dietes bicolor

helianthus angustifolius pennisetum setaceum

equisetum hyemale

pennisetum alopecuroides

r be vem o n

cornus florida

asparagus densiflorus ‘meyer’

er decemb

calycanthus floridus

cercis canadensis

oc tob er ber

platanus occidentalis

asimina triloba





januar y

feb rua ry

rch ma april


jun e





Plant selection was important to this project because many projects in the Lower 9th Ward have used plants that are poorly adapted to the sunny, humid conditions in New Orleans and/or have no value to the environment. Our plant selections combined aesthetic (in the form of seasonal color and shape) and utility (in the form of water retention ability and sun tolerance). Water absorbing trees, shrubs and grasses are used in swales and the stormwater planters. The beds are planted with Louisiana native and adapted wildflower species that are adapted to the hot, variable weather. Our plant selections relied heavily on our field observations from site visits to the 9th Ward and New Orleans. We kept a running list of commercially available, plants with ornamental value we noticed thriving in stormwater retention areas, on the batture land and in the many abandoned properties.




Coastal Louisiana is a landscape in ecological crisis. Beyond the threat of rising sea levels and coastal erosion, the expansion of development, roads and agriculture are continuously fracturing habitats and reducing forest cover. Loss of habitat has nearly wiped out some native predator species including the red wolf and Florida panther. But opportunities for greater connection still exist. This project proposes increasing precious habitat through connections in 3 phases: identifying local opportunities for connection, expanding those connections on a regional scale, and monitoring and adjusting for data collected and sharing that data with other professionals.

Phase 1: Link

Maurepas WMA Bayou Teche NWR

Phase 2: Connect Establish further connections

Phase 3: Adjust

Monitor and adjust





I-2 20















utu r


I-4 9-f












Healthy habitats allow for genetic diversity, plentiful food, water and shelter

Habitat fracturing causes species isolation, which reduces genetic viability

In, the last 200 years, mankind has severely fractured forests and nearly wiped out all apex predators


I started to look into how fracturing affects animal populations and discovered that it has the most severe effects on the Apex predators. Apex predators are signs of a healthy ecosystem, and Louisiana has all but wiped out their indigenous hunters.




This fascinating subject lead me to discover the sad stories of the Red Wolf and Florida Panther. Both were hated and Range feared because of perceived threat to Reintroduction Area prey populations and livestock. Both have Proposed Connection been nearly wiped out from hunting, trapping poisoning or loss of habitat.



a small population exists in North Carolina


xtirpatedin LA extirpated


? a small population exists in Florida and Texas

extirpated extirpatedin LA

The inspiration for a project connecting habitats came from a study I did of the logging and timber industries in Southeastern LA. I created a time line of forest cover, and in addition to shrinking cover, I noticed that it became fractured.

I also learned the more hopeful story of the Louisiana Black Bear. Although their populations are depleted and fractured, there were still enough left that they could be put into preserves. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has a plan in place to connect some of the existing habitats and thereby promote populations of the Louisiana Black Bear. However a small population exists in the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) that has no connection plan.





Agriculture, urban sprawl and highways and are characteristic of Louisiana development. Sea level rise is also a very real danger to those living near the Gulf of Mexico. The Natura 2000 project in Europe and the ARC Competition in Vale, Colorado and many other projects in the US and Canada have proved that wildlife corridor projects have been proven to work and are well worth the cost of implementing. Seeing opportunities for federal and state dollars to be allocated to habitat connection projects, I decided that I would like to introduce the national trend of wildlife crossings to Louisiana. Using research on existing, working wildlife corridors, I developed a set of criteria for placement of corridors and crossings. I adapted the criteria suggested by research, to my knowledge of Louisiana’s unique natural environment, which has very different hydrology, topology and vegetation from other parts of the country. I also spoke with wildlife experts from the Maurepas WMA and the Bayou Teche NWR. From there, I determined the size and placement of the connection points for the project.





The Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is a large tract of land between Sorrento and La Place Louisiana. It is home to many species of game including deer, possum, raccoon, and coyote. This WMA is an ideal laboratory for animal crossings since it has 2 major highways, but few other roads. This WMA was once the home of the Florida Panther, Red Wolf and Black Bear. The vegetation cover is mostly Cypress Tupelo swamp. Bald Cypress (Taxodium distchum) is heavily logged in this area. Canals cut for oil and gas extraction and for logging can clearly be seen in aerial photos. The canals have severely altered the natural hydrology of this region, and it now stays wet longer than it would naturally. Frequent flooding in the spring makes underpass crossings impractical, so I proposed two wildlife bridge crossings over Interstate 10. In the map at left, the large pink dots represent the placement of bridges, while the smaller dots are the existing underpasses. The red lines near the highway represent funnel fencing. Much of this area is already fenced, so only replacements of some damaged fences would be needed.






3 2


4 4 1 2 3 4



Wildflower Meadow Wet Meadow Edge/Scrub Interior Forest


Construction of the bridge needed to have low impact on the natural area and on the drivers on the highway.

Vegetation Steel Railing Soil Substrate Filter Layer Concrete Rail

To accomplish this, the bridge is built from a wide retaining wall which supports a post-tensioned concrete slab and side rails. On top of the concrete is a filter layer that channels excess water off of the bridge. The soil layer is four feet thick to allow the growth of some large trees. Vegetation on the bridge is limited to wet meadow plantings and edge/scrub plantings. Both have relatively light weight, and having both creates 2 conditions for cover. Edge vegetation grows tall enough to create cover for animals as large as deer.

Concrete Slab Retaining Wall



Year 1


Year 5


Year 10

Animal’s View on the bridge crossing over time. As plantings become established, the bridge appears more natural, and more appealing to animals. The edge/ scrub vegetation and ivy will grow very quickly, blocking noise. For an animal crossing to be successful, it must appear natural, and block noise from the highway.

Driver’s View







The Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. It is one of four locations where black bear populations persist. US Highway 90 and farmland fracture the NWR. Several bears have been killed on Highway 90. If the bears had an opportunity to get to the northern side of the NWR, they would have easy access to the Atchafalaya Basin, and from there, they could move through unpopulated areas to Atchafalaya WMA in the northern part of the basin, where the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries are already establishing connections to other bear populations in the state. An opportunity for connection exists at an underpass where a tributary of Bayou Teche passes under US 90. Currently, the slopes on either side are steep and unvegetated. Also, to get the animals to the northern side, they would have to cross several small roads. This project examines how to grade existing underpasses, and create new ones in a high flood environment.





The design of a bear-friendly underpass is shown at left. Four piles keep the cement structure from shifting in the clay soil. The minimum height for an underpass is 10’ and width is 20’. Funnel fencing must be installed around the tunnel to lead the bear into it, but it should happen gradually.

US Highway 90 underpass

Funnel Fencing

The diagram above shows the recommended plantings for edges of corridors, and which animals benefit from these plantings. The areas has a problem with invasive species so establishing native trees will help crowd out the opportunistic trees such as Chinese Tallow Tree (Triadicia sebifera) and Paper Mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera).



The map at left identifies other opportunities for connection that exist within Southeaster LA that were out of the scope of this project.

The map at left shows national lands where wildlife is guaranteed protection and distribution of endangered predators addressed in this project. The map shows that there are many opportunities for connection in the Southeastern US and beyond into the Rockies and Texas



In Phase 2, additional opportunities in the southeast region of Louisiana and the United States are identified for Federal and State Funding and feasibility. In the final phase of the plan, the greenways built will be monitored. The feedback is incorporated into existing plans, and used to inform plans for the future. Methods for monitoring the greenways are recommended in the diagram below based on the population of the species to be monitored vs. the cost of monitoring. It is also recommended that this knowledge is shared with the community of professional wildlife biologists, engineers and forest managers who can then use that knowledge to plan for more informed animal greenway corridors. The results should also be shared with the public so that people living in the communities which house these corridors can understand their purpose and appreciate their use. Knowledge should be shared with the community through open source or wiki sharing technology, so that professionals and the community can monitor real-time data.



LA 7006

Pilgrim Ecologies Sanctuary of the Holy Trinity, Lazio, Italy

Amanda Jane Beerens

Professor Kristi Dykema Cheramie Summer 2012

The Pilgrim ecologies studio introduced me to advanced methods of design decision-making. The goal of the final project was to create a site design on a small scale that could be translated through out the entire site, creating a comprehensive design language. This design language was to be conceived not only as a set of rational decisions based on site and context, but also through intuitive process of abstraction and inspiration. The design methodology led the process from measured, realistic site drawings, to abstract line drawings, to a 3-D abstract model, back to abstract line drawings and finally to a realistic hand-rendered design. This approach created a design that is sensitive to place and incorporates intangible site typologies into the details of the design. In essence, process itself became the project. Site History and Use The studio took place on a mountainside holy site outside of the town of Vallepietra in Lazio, Italy. The site is situated within the Simbrunini State Park (Parco Monti Simbrunini). Each year in June, a pilgrimage on the Day of the Feast inundates the Sanctuary of the Holy Trinity site with 50,000 devout Catholic worshipers of the Cult of the Trinity, S.S. Trinita. The Holy site contains a Holy fresco in a cliff-side grotto which depicts the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost identically, which was a heterodox iconography. The myth of the miracle fresco says that a farmer on the top of the mountain was plowing his field with two oxen. The oxen fell off the 400-meter cliff, and when the farmer went to find them, they were still alive and kneeling in front of a fresco, which had miraculously appeared. A follower of Saint Francis most likely painted the fresco in the 11th century. There is evidence to suggest that the tradition of the pilgrimage to the sacred grotto has pre-Christian origins due to the fact that a cult of St. Anne also surrounds the legend of the fresco. St. Anne is the mother of the Virgin Mary, and is a symbol of fertility in the Catholic religion. Worshippers of pagan gods would likely have taken to worshiping the Virgin and St. Anne in place of another fertility deity after they were converted to Catholicism.


This ancient tradition has come up against the very modern problem of vehicular access. Before the 1960s, the pilgrimage route on the day of the feast started in Vallepietra, and pilgrims made the steep, rocky ascent to the sanctuary, praying, singing by candlelight and sometimes barefoot. Companies of followers bring “devotions� and large crosses and erect them on a hillside at the site. From there they continue to the site of the fresco and attend a mass at a large open temple. In the 1960’s, a road was built up the mountainside and the

city of Vallepietra built a 500 car parking lot at the site. At the time this was sufficient for access, but as cars and the site itself became more popular, the parking lot and the town became overrun with vehicles. Even with the parking lot, accessing the site is still difficult, because one must descend a very steep path down to the sanctuary and the paving is crumbling or nonexistent in some places. There are few places to rest and the handrails are inadequate. Vendors have assembled ramshackle stalls to sell food, beverage, trinkets and devotional candles to be left burning on the site, but the vendors are insufficient to provide food and water for all the people that make the pilgrimage. The Holy Fresco

Site Characteristics The name Simbrunini derives from Latin sub imbribus, which means “under the rain”, so stormwater management is a concern for the site. The park is a nature preserve of national importance. It is one of the last refuges for the European grey wolf, and the park management is working to restore deer populations to preserve its habitat and keep wolves from affecting farmers. The surrounding ecology is beech forest, which creates a rich deciduous canopy. Views from the site are of breathtaking mountainous terrain, and on clear days, one can see for miles down the town in the valley. Summertime temperatures can be oppressively hot and sunny, despite the high altitude. Including the View of the path between the parking lot and the sanctuary, company busy time of the feast day, 500,000 pilgrims visit crosses at right the site each year. The site around the sanctuary has been built haphazardly, on an ‘as needed’ basis. The path from the town is difficult to use, but not in need of development, as the difficulty of the ascent is part of the sacrifice of the pilgrimage. Our focus for the studio was to create continuous designed conditions at the site of the sanctuary and along the path to the parking lot. To do so, we picked a transect of the site and designed improvements in detail to create a design language that could be used throughout the site. Design language for the site includes handrails, trash receptacles, seating, shade structures, paving, drainage controls, edge reinforcements and plantings. To begin the process of site analysis, we conducted a study of edge conditions along

Project site: a small grotto with a precarious retaining wall


Section 1: Across the grotto and three paths

Section 2: Through Grotto Plan View

Figure 1: Realistic Site Drawing

Figure 2: Abstracted Line Work

the path to the parking lot. I drew a series of sections along the path from the sanctuary up to the parking lot, marking instances where an edge, paving or railing condition changed and measuring the distance in between. I also noted vegetation, materials, drainage conditions and program uses. The site from which I chose to create a design language is a small devotional grotto (which is not the same grotto that contains the fresco) that is below the hill where companies leave devotional crosses. Some of the crosses are 2 meters tall and some are 10 cm and there is everything in between. The crosses are decorated with candles, rosaries, flowers and other personal items. The hillside is covered in a beautiful, colorful wildflower meadow in addition to the colorful devotions. The hillside ends abruptly at the grotto and is held up by a precarious retaining wall that is in danger of being completely washed out by rains. The grotto is has several places for pilgrims to leave a devotional candle burning but is also full of trash and overrun with melted wax. During site observation, I witnessed pilgrims approach the grotto with a candle, light it and immediately leave. The path in front of the grotto is paved in a local flagstone, but water on the site moves quickly over it and creates washouts along the path. The Design Process


After conducting a thorough site analysis, the next step was to draw a scaled drawing of the site in plan, and in section perspective in meticulous detail. The area that extends out from the grotto is in 3 levels. The top level is the path from the parking lot to the sanctuary, and it is bordered by a steep drop on one side and a 400-meter cliff face of orange/yellow rock on the other. The second is the path down the mountain to Vallepi-

Figure 3: Diagrammatic Interpretation of Realistic Site Drawing

etra taken by pilgrims on foot, but it also leads to the site’s only restrooms. The third level is a narrow access road, unused by the public. There is a small triangular shaped garden between the two main paths which ends where the two paths come together. Opportunistic trees grow out of cracks in sagging retaining walls. I spent three days on site completing an accurate, illustrated plan and two sections of the site (figure 1). After the research and measured drawing process was complete, the design methodology turned to abstraction. The drawing was to become a series of forms, volumes, masses and shapes, not a grotto and three paths. To begin the process of abstraction, I overlaid my drawing with vellum and traced over the most important guidelines, reducing the information down to a set of points and lines (figure 2). These guidelines laid the foundation for the rest of the design process. I scanned the drawing and traced the guidelines into a vector drawing. From here, I further abstracted the site by allowing the meaning of the drawing to fall away, and to allow the guidelines to become a series of points, lines and planes (figure 3). On separate layers, I diagramed dimension, geometry, materials and phenomenological intersections with in the site. I used the original guidelines from the site drawing and added guidelines and extended them across the page. As form became apparent within the guidelines, I created planes using tone and texture. Once I was satisfied that I had incorporated the qualities and characteristics I had observed on the site, I merged the distinct representations together looked for instances overlap. I used tone, hatch and line weight to differentiate between spaces and mass. Points of emphasis and important intersections were thickened and brought to the foreground, while less important lines were faded to the back or deleted.


Figure 4: Selected Views from 3D Model

The form of the section and plan from the original drawing were kept intact, but they now looked completely different. With only the notion of a plan and section kept intact, I created a digital 3D model from the forms created in the drawing (figure 4). The principle of the 3D model was to “introduce fuzziness� and to force form outside of existing form on the site. Guidelines were put into 3D and allowed to show directionality. Masses of rock became light, stacked structures. A hill with crosses became a series of vertical planes, and trees became floating transparent discs. In the final stage of the design process, I chose 10 views (four of them are shown in figure 4) of the 3D model, and printed the line work of the abstracted shapes. From there, I overlaid trace paper and used the guidelines to ascribe a form to the site which would not have been evident from the original site drawings. After many iterations over the linework, I arrived at a design solution that was based on the abstraction of the model, but firmly rooted in the realities I knew about the site. I chose easily sourced and constructed local materials.


1: gravel trough for placement of candles and simple cleaning

2: terraced support for retaining wall preserves the only tree

3: shade structure built in to seating can be replicated anywhere on the site with or without slope

Line work from 3-D Model

4: seating no shade structure

5: local stone extended to grotto, rills cut through flagstone to feed into garden and slow the flow of runoff

Figure 5: Site Plan

The first view I chose to draw was the plan (figure 5). In plan view, I was able to easily see how drainage should work on the site. There is an existing drain in the grotto, but the rest of the water rushes down the path. The guidelines led me to a mechanism to slow the water by introducing narrow rills (5 in figure 5) that would drain into the rain garden below. The abstraction process pulled the garden out into 3 arms radiating from a point rather than 2 straight lines. This led to creating a tiered garden with more terraces to catch and hold rainwater while providing additional support to the retaining wall. An overflow device allows additional water to connect to the existing on-site drainage. The form of the shade structure (3 in figure 5) comes from inverting the lines of the cliff face in the front and mimicking the curve of the path in the back. The shade structure is intended to change over time. Initially, it would be covered with a white canvas, but it is placed so that eventually vining plants from the rain garden will climb it and create cover.


1: soil taken from hillside placed on top layer of fill to extend meadow plantings

2: space for placement of devotional candles Line work from 3-D Model 3: gravel trough for placement of candles and simple cleaning

4: additional space for devotions 5: grotto paved with local flagstone

Figure 6: Section Perspective of Grotto

The second view I chose to draw was a section perspective facing the cliff wall of the grotto (figure 6). A tree growing on the hillside holds a clump of soil in its roots. This clump forms the start of the terracing to save the tree, which could not grow roots on site if it was planted and adds support to the hillside. The terraces slant inwards towards the cliff-face, mimicking the stacked blocks in the line work (2 in figure 6). The center of the grotto remains the central axis of the space, and the floor of the grotto slopes to the center to create additional sense of enclosure. The wildflower meadow from the existing hillside is allowed to grow down between the terrace supports, where it will grow between devotions left by pilgrims (1 in figure 6).


1: shade structure and seating

2: terraced support for retaining wall preserves the only tree

3: drainage for the grotto connected to existing site drainage

Line work from 3-D Model

4: Cor-Ten Steel retaining walls supported by cement footing

5: terraced garden with local plantings collects rain water from path 6: retaining wall reinforced

Figure 7: Section Perspective of Grotto and 3 Paths

The final view that was inspired by line work drawings was of a horizontal section through the three tiers of the site (figure 7). On each level, terracing and vegetation reinforce the retaining walls. Language for seating and railings is shown, which can be used throughout the sanctuary site and constructed from locally available materials. Construction methods do not make use of special tools that may not be available to local craftsmen. Seating consists of planks of beech wood with square holes to hold either railings or shade structure supports. The railing is informed by guidelines leading along both of the paths towards the sanctuary, providing directionality and metering along the path. The railing is made of horizontal beech planks, which continue seamlessly into the backrest for the seating. The horizontal form of the railings juxtaposes the verticality of the forest background and provides a sense of enclosure while traveling along the path. Forms for the constructed concrete retaining walls and paving are left in place along the ground level to delineate walking paths. The angle of the shade structure was informed by a guideline extending from the slope of the triangular garden. The shade structure signals the approach of a place for resting and allows for appreciation of the grotto when the site is not crowded.


Figure 8: Elevation view of shade structure and seating

The resulting design incorporates site-specific materials, plants and construction methods but was not limited by local design aesthetic. The methodology of design by abstraction led me to a design that I would not have conceived if I had relied solely on site analysis. Reflecting on the design process, I concluded that the abstraction teased out an intuitive aspect which underpinned the design response. The extensive site analysis process played an important role when I determined how the site would be constructed, but the abstraction process gave new form to existing site conditions. This methodology was different than anything I had done before, but I have incorporated the lessons I learned in abstraction and hand-drawing into subsequent projects successfully.



Detailed, illustrative site plan of DeSoto Park and city context



This project for DeSoto Park in Baton Rouge visualizes how connections to the river from the city can strengthen the consciousness of the river in the city, and draw visitors into the park. The plan outlines the four Louisiana landscape types that will be emulated in the park. The existing Batture landscape will be preserved near the river, as it is the most adapted to the annual floods of the Mississippi. Calcareous prairie provides a buffer between the batture lowlands and the high land leading up to River Road. Both of these landscape types require low maintenance after establishment. A wetland area catches drainage from the sports field at the north end of the park and a low land pine forest provides shade along the jogging path and a one acre conservation and education area. An extended bridge crosses through a plaza with a small cafe on one end, and over the wetland area on the other. This bridge also allows observation of all of the landscape types, and the changes that develop between them. Connection to an existing jogging trail along the levee is established and creates a destination at the end of the trail and loop through the park. The north end contains a sports field and an observation point, where visitors can observe the changing swells of the Mississippi.



Site Model 1:500 Scale. cardboard, basswood, paper

Perspective rendering of northern edge of DeSoto Park. Hard edge of the park overlooks the batture, the pedestrian bridge and the I-10 bridge at sunset.

View of pedestrian bridge with planting beds giving way to seating which affords a view of the batture flooding processes and across the Mississippi to Port Allen



Pedestrian Plaza with recycled boards from existing shipping docks on site, with view of the cafe and bridge entrance.

The successional growth that occurs on the batture lands of Louisiana is characterized as a natural ecosystem, but it is one that would not exist without the man-made levee system. With this unique characteristic in mind, the opportunity to learn about the interaction between Louisiana’s diverse ecologies presents itself. In areas where two ecological communities meet, the ecotones, the greatest conditions for biological diversity exist. Four ecologies were uniquely suited to fit the programming requirements and natural conditions on the site: calcareous prairie, upland pine forest, wetlands, and batture. The levee trail is extended to the top of the park, and a trail system through the park allows users of the trail to loop through the 1.5 acre park, while a boardwalk and bridge allow for observation of the batture and the natural flooding, draining and renewal processes. The prairie and pine forest are suited to the acidic soils left from the Mississippi alluvium on the batture lands, while the wetlands drain the prairie and pine forest.






river road

railroad track










railroad track

river road



DeSoto Park Design


Native Ecotones

1Calcareous Prairie

2 2 Pine Flatwood 3

4 3 Freshwater Marsh


4 Batture

Native Ecotones



Characteristics - Soils are stiff calcareous clays (surface pH ~ 7.5-8.0), with very high shrink-swell characteristics, and range in color from red to olive-tan to gray-black - Regularly-occurring fire, high soil pH, and extreme physical soil properties are believed to generate and perpetuate these upland clay prairies - Herbaceous flora is very diverse and dominated by grasses, composites, and legumes Common Species Grass: Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem), Sporobolus spp. (dropseeds), Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem), Sorghastrum nutans (Indian grass) Common Species Composite: Eurybia spp. & Symphyotrichum spp. (asters), Helenium spp. (sneeze-weeds), Liatris spp. (blazing-stars), Coreopsis spp. (tick-seeds), Solidago spp. (goldenrods), Ambrosia psilostachya (western ragweed), Vernonia spp. (ironweeds), Rudbeckia spp. (browneyed susans), Eupatorium spp. (thoroughworts), Echinacea pallida (pale coneflower)

Symphyotrichum spp. asters

Eurybia spp. asters

Andropogon gerardii big bluestem

Common Species Legume: Acacia angustissima (prairie acacia), Baptisia spp. (indigos), Desmanthus illinoensis (wad o’pods), Galactia volubilis (milk pea) Beneficial Management Practices - Use of periodic prescribed fire (every 3 to 5 years) - Monitoring for and removal of any invasive or exotic species by spot herbicide treatments or mechanical means - Preventing use of prairie openings as logging sets - Prohibiting off-road vehicle use or restricting use to existing trails

1Calcareous Prairie

Sorghastrum nutans Indian grass

Acacia angustissima Rudbeckia spp. Prairie Acacia brown-eyed susans

Characteristics - Soils are mesic, strongly acidic and fine sandy or silty loams with presence of a clay hardpan - In Louisiana’s Florida Parishes, Pinus palustris (longleaf pine) and Pinus elliottii (slash pine) are often co-dominants. In southwest Louisiana, only longleaf pine and Pinus taeda (loblolly pine) are present - Has a stratified appearance with pine dominating the canopy, a low woody shrub layer, and a herbaceous layer Common Species Trees: Pinus palustris (longleaf pine) Pinus elliottii (slash pine, SE LA) Pinus taeda (loblolly pine) Pinus glabra (spruce pine, SE LA) Quercus nigra (water oak) Quercus laurifolia (laurel oak) Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay magnolia) Acer rubrum (red maple) Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum) Common Species Understory: Sabal minor (palmetto) Cyrilla racemiflora (swamp cyrilla) Ilex coriacea (sweet gallberry) Ilex glabra (littleleaf gallberry)

Pinus elliottii Slash Pine

Pinus Palustrus Longleaf Pine

Pinus taeda Loblolly Pine

Common Species Herbaceous: Liatris spp. (blazing-stars), Chaptalia tomentosa (sunbonnet), Andropogon spp. (broomsedges), Panicum spp. (panic grasses)

2 Pine Flatwood

Beneficial Management Practices - Prevent conversion of existing natural forests to other land uses - Use of growing season prescribed fire (April-June) at a frequency of every 5 to 10 years - No logging during wet periods when the soil is saturated - No bedding or other soil disturbance that may alter natural water flow patterns - Prohibit off-road vehicle use, or restrict use to pre-existing trails - Remove any invasive exotic plant species with use of spot herbicides or mechanical means

Sabal minor palmetto

Characteristics - Small pools or ponds may be scattered throughout - Floristic composition of these sites is quite heterogeneous and is variable from site to site - Salinities are usually less than 2 ppt and normally average about 0.5-1 ppt - Frequency and duration of flooding, which are intimately related to microtopography, seem to be the primary factors governing species distributions - Substrate, current flow, salinity, competition, and allelopathy are also important in determining species distribution patterns - Has the greatest plant diversity of any of the marsh types. - Has the highest soil organic matter content of any marsh type - It is frequently dominated by Panicum hemitomon (maidencane) - Epiphytic and benthic algae are two other major autotroph groups in freshwater marsh Common Species: Panicum hemitomon (maidencane) Eleocharis spp. (spikesedge), Sagittaria lancifolia (= S. falcata) Spartina patens (wire grass),Alternanthera philoxeroides (alligator weed), Phragmites communis (roseau cane), Bacopa monnieri (coastal water hyssop), Ceratophyllum demursum (coontail), Cyperus odoratus (fragrant flatsedge) Eichhornia crassipes (water hyacinth), Pontederia cordata (pickerelweed) Peltandra virginica (arrow arum), Hydrocotyle spp. (pennyworts), Lemna minor (common duckweed)

3 Freshwater Marsh

Panicum hemitomon Maidencane

Panicum spp. panic grasses

Eleocharis spp. Spikesedge

Chaptalia tomentosa sunbonnet

Alternanthera philoxeroides alligator weed

Beneficial Management Practices: - Prevent conversion of existing natural communities to other land uses - Allow natural fires to burn freely (if feasible) and establish regular burning regime on managed lands to improve habitat and food quality for wildlife. Burning should be used only when marshes are flooded to avoid intense heat damage, and never burn in floatant marshes

Spartina patens wire grass

Lemna minor common duckweed

Eichhornia crassipes water hyacinth

Characteristics - Develops on the slope between the natural levee crest and major streams/rivers - A pioneer community which is first to appear on newly formed sand bars and river margins - These areas receive sands and silts with each flood - Soils are semi-permanently inundated or saturated, and inundation or saturation by surface water or groundwater occurs periodically, primarily during spring and summer months - As river sediments build up, a rapid succession of plant species progresses from willow and cottonwood into bottomland forest types, including the HackberryAmerican Elm-Green Ash or Sycamore-Sweetgum-American Elm variations - The successional sequence is a function of river meander movement rates and point bar formation. Rivers with swift meander movements over unconsolidated sands produce tapered slopes on point bars which are first colonized by the batture community Primary pioneer tree species include: Salix nigra (black willow), Populus deltoides (cottonwood), Salix exigua (sandbar willow) Secondary tree species, appearing as succession progresses, include: Betula nigra (riverbirch), Acer Negundo (Box Elder), Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash), Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore), Carya illinoensis (pecan), Celtis laevigata (hackberry), Acer rubrum (red maple), Forestiera acuminata (swamp privet), Planera aquatica (water elm), Ulmus americana (American elm)

Salix nigra Black willow

Populous deltoides Cottonwood

Acer Negundo Box Elder

Common Species Groundcover: Rubus trivialis (Dewberry), Ampelopsis arborea (Peppervine), Berchemia scandens (Rattan), Toxidendron raticans (Poison Ivy), Ambrosia trifisa (Giant Ragweed) Beneficial Management Practices: - Prevent conversion of existing natural forests to other land uses - Remove any invasive exotic plant species with use of spot herbicides or mechanical means

4 Batture

Andropogon virginicus Broom Sedge

Rubus trivialis Dewberry

Ampelopsis arborea Peppervine


The site (my foot) was studied through models and diagrams. Plaster molds taken of my foot in two positions, diagrams studying the foot in both positions.

Site Diagrams and Analysis of the kinetic landscape: drawings of operative systems

Excerpts from Field Guide



My first semester project taught us how to conceive of a landscape through abstraction of a foot. We started by choosing two positions for the foot, one compressed and one uncompressed. We studied its systems extensively through diagrams and plaster models.

Charcoal and conte drawing of the site to be modeled, no longer treated as a foot, but as a kinetic site

The next step was to zoom in on a section of the foot (approximately 1”x1”) to be the site of study. The next step was to make a 2’x2’ model of the zoomed in site using fabric, wire mesh, wood, and thread. My model also used bungee cords for tension between the compressed and compressed position. Finally I created a field guide of the model using pen drawings to draw sections, surface materials, and points of attachment. A follow up project (on the next page) was to create a built structure for a surveyor to occupy on the kinetic terrain of the abstracted foot. The purpose of the project was not to model a foot, but to create a diagrammatic, movable terrain based on the workings of the foot, identified in the initial studies.

Close up of model





The assignment following the creation of the model landscape was to create two built structures for a surveyor to occupy. The structures were to be connected by a datum that was usable and accessible to the surveyor. At left are pictures of the models of the buildings designed on the site of the model of the kinetic landscape. Above is the site plan and three sections of the built structures and the datum situated inside the landscape. Section 1 shows how the structures are connected by the datum and how the landscape moves around them. Section 2 is the top structure and Section 3 is the bottom structure. The roofs of the structures have a thickness which creates a feeling of enclosure. The datum connecting the structures is a series of stairs of varying steepness, which have handles for the surveyor to grab as he ascends .







Digital model of Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland by Renzo Piano, set in the Louisiana marsh. Modeled in 3DS Max and composited in Photoshop

Bird’s eye view 3DS Max Rendering

Ground-level view 3DS Max Rendering

Facade with louvers 3DS Max Rendering



Marsh terrain modeled in 3DS Max, rendered to depict the theme of “escape� LA 2101 Advanced Digitial Representation

Design of a surface as a shade structure digitally modelled in Maya, to be used as a cafe shade structure in Piazza Navona in Rome



Louisiana State University


Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture Master of Landscape Architecture I GPA 3.8/4.0, Graduation Anticipated Decemeber 2012

University of Pittsburgh Bachelor of Science in Business Administration GPA 3.9/4.0, Graduated May 2006 Louisiana State University, School of Landscape Architecture Urban Landscape Lab Assistant, August 2012-Present Assistant to Director, 2011-2012 Baton Rouge, Louisiana Cultivate! LLC, Summer 2011 Landscaper and Research Assistant to Horticulturist Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Jim Jenkins Lawn and Garden Center, Summer 2011 Customer Service and Landscaper Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Certified Public Accountant 2006-2010



work experience

software Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, Google Sketchup, Auto Desk AutoCAD, 3DS Max and Maya activities University of Arkansas Rome Program, Semester in Rome, Summer 2012 Attended Sustainable Eco-Ag Conference on soil biology and human health, Middleton, Ohio, 2011 Master Gardener (Educational Outreach Volunteer), Cooperative Extension, Philadelphia, 2009-2010 honors and awards Helen Reich Memorial Scholarship, 2012 National Garden Clubs J. Conner Scholarship 2011 and 2012 Louisiana Garden Club Federation: Anite Currault and Irene M. Petijean Horticulture Scholarships, 2011 and 2012 Louisiana Society for Horticultural Research Scholarship, 2011 Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association Scholarship 2012 contact 1002 Annex Ave, Dallas TX (412) 708 1110


Amanda Beerens Portfolio MLA  

Amanda Jane Beerens Portfolio, Graduating with an MLA in December, 2012 from Louisiana State University