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Port Austin


Jiabin Zhang LA 447 2017 Fall Semester 1

Table of Contents

Cover-------------------------------------------------- 1 Table of Contents---------------------------------- 2 Project Description-------------------------------- 3 Juried Critique and Studio Description----- 4-5 Design Process-------------------------------------- 6 Design Considerations--------------------------- 7 Inventory and Analysis--------------------------- 8-19 Master Plan Chapter------------------------------ 20-44 Individual Design Chapter---------------------- 45-56 Recommendation--------------------------------- 57 Conclusion------------------------------------------- 58 2

Project Description Michigan

Huron County

Project Description The project assigned for the fall semester of LA 447 is a case study focusing on the master planning process for the Village of Port Austin. The village covers about 664 acres, and is located within Huron County, which is roughly 16 square miles. Port Austin is located at the tip of the thumb region, and has many assets, including its extensive public park network. The village also has a vibrant culture that attracts tourists and supports the local economy. Port Austin is currently engaged in initiatives to help bolster the wintertime economy, which will make the village a year-round destination. In 2004, Wade trim, a planning and civil engineering consulting company, has conducted a general management plan for future development. The plan provides analysis and proposals to the village, which help the class LA 447 achieve their goals.

Village of Port Austin


Juried Critique Studio Description

Karen Russcher, LA 477 Class Instructor

Monica Schwanitz, ASLA, LLA, Alumni, Project Liaison

Cameron Schwanitz, PA Chamber of Commerce Executive Director and Farmers Market

Vanessa Warren, OHM advisors, LLA, ASLA, SPDC

Stephen Troost, Campus Planner Infrastructure Planning and Facilities MSU, LLA, Alumni

John Campbell, Site Planning Development Inc., Owner, LLA, ASLA, Alumni

John Gundry, Wayne County Parks Division, LLA, Alumni

Kim Dietzel, ASLA, PEA, Alumni

Sandy Bliesener, Principal Owner OCBA, LLA, ASLA

Matt Hull, LLA, ASLA LAP + Creative Inc., Alumni

Bob Ford, LAP + Creative Inc., LLA, ASLA & Alumni

Jack McDonough, SPDC, Alumni

Maleah Beatty, Nederveld, Inc., ASLA, Alumni

David J. Yocca, Conservation Design Forum, FASLA, AICP, LEED AP, Alumni


Juried Critique Studio Description ‌and The Port Austin Community.

Dan Confer, President, Village of Port Austin

Carl Osentoski, Huron County Economic Development Director

Brandt Rousseaux, Port Austin Township Supervisor

LA 477 is a required course for landscape architecture program in Michigan State University. The course gives students the opportunity to experience the design process based on a real site. The Port Austin case study was introduced to the class in a project overview by Monica and Cameron. Students were then invited to visit the Welcome Center in downtown Port Austin. Members of the Chamber of Commerce shared their concerns in relation to the village’s current development and explained the village’s identity enhancement goals. Information for an inventory was collected, analyzed, and presented to a jury consisting of primarily landscape architecture professionals. After the analysis stage, the class was divided into six groups of two to come up with initial ideas. Once ideas were formulated, the next step for each group was creating a concept statement and a Master Plan design.

A Master Plan is a comprehensive plan that involves information collected from the community, site observation, analysis, and feedback. Then, each group presented their schematic designs to professionals and community members. A series of critiques were given to the students to revise and revisit design ideas. Once the Master Plan was presented, individual students selected a site of 100200 acres within their overall master plan area. This final design was presented to the community members and local landscape architects to further explain their design. At the end of the semester, all the stages were compiled into an individual Design Report that provided recommendations for the village of Port Austin, concluding the LA 447 class.


Design Process Identify Problems

Site Visit

Inventory & Analysis

The design process for Landscape Architecture is a series of steps, that guide the designer and client in identifying problems and finding solutions. It begins with learning clients’ interests, ideas, and what they want to achieve. Background research is helpful before a site visit, because designers have opportunities to learn general information about the site, and prepare potential solutions and questions for their clients to answer.


Schematic Design

Master Plan


Then designers develop a concept, which relates to the information and helps to direct the overall design through the process. The concept helps to focus and guide the solutions. Then, the concept is elaborated in the master plan.

Then, during the site visit, collecting information and confirming clients’ needs becomes important when comparing what designers can implement to what clients ideally want. After the site visit, designers create an inventory of the information, and analyze the site to identify its strengths and weaknesses, establishing the project’s focus. Through inventory and analysis, designers have the chance to use the site’s existing strengths and look at how the area could be improved.

The master plan is a comprehensive design, which provides an overall plan that allows clients to see the relationship between different areas and elements, and convey overall design ideas and solutions to clients. The Master plan will be developed step by step, it starts from schematic design that defines the general scope and conceptual design, which shows scale and relationship between different components. Based on feedback and critiques from clients, schematic design will be revised before finalizing the design. Master plans include an overall design, detailed designs, enlargements of a specific area, sections and elevations (showing relationship between design elements), and precedent images and sketches (helping convey design ideas).

The step following inventory and analysis is the creation of a functional use diagram. This diagram transfers ideas into a design diagram showing how aspects relate to each other to guide options for potential solutions.

Throughout the design process, designers will receive feedback and comments on the design to help them revise their design, and implement details and solutions before they submit the final design.


Design Considerations

Photo by Karen Russcher

At the beginning of this class, Monica and Cameron provided a presentation, explaining existing condition of the Village of Port Austin. The class then visited the Welcome Center of Port Austin during the field trip. The design considerations from the presentation and the field trip are: • • • • • • • • •

Maintain the identity of the village Improve connection to Laker Huron Provide more spaces for recreational activities Improve existing circulation system Create trail system to connect existing assets Provide opportunity for ARTS community (ARTS: visual, music and theatre ) Improve connection to History Center and Port Austin Reef Lighthouse Enhance water quality from the watersheds into Lake Huron Provide housing opportunities for all citizens and visitors


Inventory & Analysis • • • • • • • • •

Inventory & Analysis-------------------History--------------------------------------Zoning--------------------------------------Demographics--------------------------Climate------------------------------------Topography & Hydrology-----------Recreation & Parks--------------------Festivals & Events----------------------Existing Site Photos----------------------

8 9 10 11 12 13 14-16 17 18-19

The process of site inventory and analysis identifies and evaluates existing site conditions to determine what can be worked with and what must be overcome in order to accomplish the design proposal. The key is the careful review of existing space and material so that a beautiful, functional and manageable landscape can evolve.


History 1838: The first settler built a water-powered sawmill on the banks of Bird’s Creek. This was the beginning of the lumber business opened in this county.

1870: The Huron Agricultural Works was established, and brought great benefit to the county.

1853: The first school was established. The first religious service was held in the school-house.

1927: M-53 highway was extended northward to connect Port Austin with Detroit.

1878: Lighthouse was completed on the tip of Port Austin Reef. The lighthouse serves as a “turning point” for northbound and westbound shipping as a navigation to Saginaw Bay.

2003: State Harbor and Bird Creek was Dredged.


Zoning Existing Zoning Districts: R-1 One-Family Residential District • • •

Predominantly low-density single-family dwelling units together A minimum of other residentially related facilities Activities primarily of service to the residents in the area

R-2 Multiple-Family Residential District • • •

Greatest density of residential uses allowed within the village A zone of transition between non-residential districts and any R-1 district Other residentially related facilities designed to service the inhabitants of the area

B-1 Service Business District • •

Sales and commercial service uses dealing directly with consumers General business and industrial customers

B-2 General Business District • •

Including all uses permitted by right in a B-1 district Other uses include car wash, fast food restaurant, motel and hotel etc.

IN Industrial District • • • •

Most zoning districts in Port Austin are residential. A recommendation would be to add mixed-use buildings and temporary structures to the business district to provide more flexibility and attract new business.

Wholesale activities Warehouses Manufacturing, assembling, fabricating Processing and compounding activities, agricultural and agricultural support enterprises.


Demographics Age Demographics

Age Demographic in Port Austin

The total population in Port Austin is 712. Young people residents who are under 35 years old make up less than 20% of the total population. There are not enough work opportunities for young people who want to live in the village with yearround activities.

Crime Rates by Year

According to the crime index, the number of crimes in Port Austin is below US average every year except 2009. No murders, robberies or arsons had occurred in Port Austin from 2001 to 2015. Port Austin is a safe village.

Housing Occupancy

The percentage of occupied housing units in Port Austin is only 47.7%, lower than the US average which is 87.7%. The percentage of vacant housing units is four times of the US average. The percentage of the housing units owner occupied is higher than the US average while the renter occupied is lower. Shortterm rental housing should be considered as a potential method that could be used to reduce vacant housing units.


Climate Port Austin has a temperate continental climate, which is humid with mild summer and rain regularly. The precipitation amount is higher than the US average, and the average tempreture is lower than the US average.

Wind Rose

The temperature typically varies from 81째F to 20 째F. The lowest temperature is 5 째F in January and the highest temperature is 94 째F in July. The most part of precipitation is in Spring. In winter there is the least precipitation. The wind speed is seasonal. The windy time is from October to April with wind speed of more than 15 mph. The wind speed of calmer period is 11 mph averagely. Typically, the Kayak shop in Port Austin does not rent kayaks when the wind speed is over 16 mph. During summer time, when people visit Port Austin most frequently, the village gets plenty of sunshine. Port Austin is wet all year round. Snow typically begins in October and stops in May. In January there is most snow days which is typically 10 days.

The wind rose indicates the number of hours per year which the wind blows from each direction. The wind with higher speed blows more from southern west and the wind from east is the calmest.


Topography & Hydrology Surface drainage is directed toward Bird Creek and Lake Huron, and the watershed surrounds Bird Creek. The low point of the site, and consequently the area that has the most issues in terms of draining, is a vacant space located in the southwest section of the village. The development pattern of the village was based on the importance of Bird Creek and Lake Huron. Knowing the hydrological conditions of Port Austin is important for storm water management.

Direction of Water Flow Potential Flood Risk Area


Recreation & Parks Local Parks: Three village parks and one county park are located within downtown Port Austin. These parks provide variety of recreational activities in Port Austin, such as swimming, kayaking, and watching butterflies. Connecting these parks by sidewalks or bikeways may help people to gain access to local natural resources. In Port Austin, there is a State Harbor, a county park, and there are village parks, all of these are located along Lake Huron. State Harbor is operated by DNR Michigan; the county park is maintained by the county board of commissioners; village parks are maintained by The Department of Public Works.

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Bird Creek County Park: ● Seven acre park located in downtown Port Austin along Bird Creek. ● The park features a quarter-mile long boardwalk, a playground, a beach, roofed picnic shelters, a large pavilion, and outdoor grills. Other amenities in the park include shower facilities and restrooms.

Gallup Park (Village): ● Gallup Park is a village park located west of downtown Port Austin, on M-25 state highway. ● Features: tennis courts, softball fields, baseball fields, picnic shelters, large pavilions, outdoor grills, bocce ball tournament, and a playground area. ● It is also home to “Art in the Park” on Labor Day weekend. ● The North Huron School District also uses the baseball fields as their home fields, and maintains the baseball diamonds. 5271,-82.9965581,16.41z

http://www.portaustinoutdooradventure.c om/bird-creek-county-park/

Bird Creek Park

Bird Creek Park 5271,-82.9965581,16.41z

Gallup Park

Gallup Park


Recreation & Parks Local Parks: Veterans Waterfront Park (Village): ● Located along the shores of Lake Huron, offering scenic views. ● About 2-acres in size, Veterans Park features a playground, pavilion, swimming beach, picnic facilities, open green space, etc. ● The memorial is a dedication to war veterans, and was created as the first stage of the park back in May of 2008. ● Connect to Breakwall

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Water Tower Park (Village): ● 1.4 acre of undeveloped open land, near the Water Tower. ● Used for overflow parking during the summer months for festivals and events. Butterfly House ● A centennial(100 years) project by the Port Austin Lions Club in collaboration with the village. ● 30’ x 50’ hoop house structure, that is home to a number of Michigan butterflies. 5271,-82.9965581,16.41z

Veterans Waterfront Park

Veterans Waterfront Park 5271,-82.9965581,16.41z

Photo by Jiabin Zhang

Water Tower Park

Water Tower Park


Recreation & Parks State Parks: State park is owned and protected by a U.S. state because of its natural beauty or its importance in history. Port Austin is located in a short distance away from two state parks along Lake Huron.

Port Austin

Port Crescent State Park is located 6 miles southwest of Port Austin, and has a combination of sand dunes, wetlands, beaches, and 600 acres of woodland. Visitors have day-use access to hiking trails, picnic areas, swimming, and then skiing during the winter months. Sleeper State Park is located 10 miles southwest of Port Austin, and includes 723 acres of forest, campground, wetlands, sandy beaches, dunes, and ancient dune forest trail system. It is a great place to watch the sunrises and sunsets, and provides more than four miles of trails for hiking and cross-country skiing. These two parks are in proximity to Port Austin, and may bring economic benefits to the town.

Port Crescent State Park Sleeper State Park

Legend: Year-round

Port Crescent State Park

Sleeper State Park

Village of Port Austin



Wildlife explore











Sky Observing


Bird Observing




Festivals & Events ue/port-austin/?lp=true deshow/Port-Austin-Porch-Fest-





• Easter egg hunt • Lady slipper festival

• • • •

• Annual Kinde Polka Fest • Girls Getaway Weekend • Farmers market

• Sonas Celtic Christmas

Port Austin Art Fair 4th of July parade Porch fest Farmers market

Concert • Port Austin’s Silver Bells Stroll

Port Austin has a vibrant economy in the summer months. People from around Michigan are drawn to the village for the various events and festivals. In the summer and fall, one of the largest farmers’ markets is held in Port Austin. However, in winter and spring months, events and activities are smaller and primarily community oriented.


Existing Site Photos Location of the Existing Site Photos

1 2


3 4 6 5


Existing Site Photos 1. Existing Board Walk and beach in Bird Creek Park. The Broad walk is aging and there is lack of activities in Bird Creek Park Photo by Karen Russcher

Photo by Karen Russcher

4. Existing Gym building. The gym is aging and has the potential to expand and become a multi-use structure.

Photo by Karen Russcher

2. Existing Boat Launching Site with concrete pavement. The impervious pavement could be improved aesthetically and increases the storm water surface run-off.

Photo by Karen Russcher

6. The existing vacant space along Bridge Street, next to Bird Creek. The vacant space needs more development to provide spaces for other activities.

3. Existing Vacant Space in Commercial Area. The vacant space needs to be developed to attract small businesses and entrepreneurs. Photo by Karen Russcher

5. The existing Water Tower Park with the butterfly house surrounded by vacant space. The vacant space has development potential and could provide spaces for other activities.

Photo by Karen Russcher


Master Plan Chapter • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Master Plan Chapter---------------------------------Program Statement----------------------------------Previous Plan--------------------------------------------Goals & Objectives-----------------------------------Concept Statement----------------------------------Study Diagram-----------------------------------------Functional Use Diagram----------------------------Schematic Design------------------------------------Master Plan---------------------------------------------Shoreline Park Improvement----------------------Central Commercial Area Revitalization-----Housing Opportunities-------------------------------Proposed Park Area----------------------------------Program Elements------------------------------------Section-----------------------------------------------------

20 21 22 23 24 25-27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35-42 43-44

In the master plan chapter, the class is divided into six groups of two. Each group selects a design concept that guides the design process. Creating study diagrams and functional use diagrams helps students map out the proposed master plan. The students show a series of presentations to local landscape architects and community members before finalizing their master plans. A final master plan board from each group was sent to the Village of Port Austin. In this chapter, Yige and I are a group, and we have developed our concept together for the master plan. Yige has contributed to the core elements of the concept and rendered the professional perspective drawings. 20

Program Statement

Photo by JIabin

Photo by JIabin

Port Austin is one of the oldest towns in Huron County, and has a warm and friendly atmosphere. In the spring, summer and fall it has annual events. It has one of the largest Farmers Markets in Michigan and is held in Port Austin every Saturday from Memorial Day to the second Saturday in October. Because of its small population, Port Austin is a quiet and safe place to live, work, and visit. It is interesting to note that 80% of the population is over 35 years old, meaning that Port Austin has become an attractive place for families and retirement. To sustain Port Austin’s warm and friendly culture, there is a need to attract people to live in the village all year-round. One method to attract people could be offering different housing opportunities that to encourage people to stay. Port Austin has many natural resources and green spaces, which are extremely important to attract visitors and potential permanent residents. Port Austin has four municipal parks some of which could benefit from increased connectivity and accessibility.

Photo by JIabin

Photo by JIabin

Photo by JIabin

Additionally, along the shoreline of Lake Huron, two state parks (Port Crescent State Park and Sleeper State Park) provide recreational activities, such as hiking, swimming, and kayaking. These areas and activities have been essential for the summer economic stability of the village. However, the village needs to also find ways to market itself as a year-round destination. Port Austin is a Blue Water Area member, which provides economic opportunities to build public and private partnership across organizational, municipal and national boundaries. Through these partnerships, Port Austin is able to capture new markets, and in order to grow their creative economy. Although Port Austin’s seasonal summer economy is vibrant, the economy during winter is more inactive. Many residents often leave the village due to the cold weather, which is difficult for restaurants and shops to remain open during this time. The residents that stay year-round and occasional visitors are inconvenienced by the lack of shopping and dining during winter time. Branding it as a year-round destination could help Port Austin promote tourism, in turn helping the village be as active and vibrant in winter as it is in summer.


Previous Plan In 2004, Wade Trim, a engineering and planning consulting company, conducted a general management plan for Port Austin. The future land use plan shows the proposed land use for future development. The previous plan provides information about how the community and stakeholders think about the future development in Port Austin. Future designs need to consider Wade Trim’s 2004 proposal in future land use plans.


Goals and Objectives

Goals Definition: Goals are general guidelines that explain what you want to achieve when solving problem. They are usually long-term and broad plans that represent overall vision.

• Promote branding to emphasize the

identity of Port Austin as a year-round active village.

• Attract entrepreneurs to boost economic growth.

• Enhance connections to existing public parks.

• Promote winter and summer events to reinforce Port Austin as an all yearround destination.

• Improve sidewalk system to encourage people to use non-motorized transit protecting environment.

Objectives Definition: Objectives are more specific and measurable. They are usually short-term and specific plans to achieve identified goals.

• • • • • • • •

Create an attractive slogan to promote identity of Port Austin. Support small local business by providing spaces that are attractive to business owners in central business area. Complete sidewalks and crosswalks to enhance connectivity and safety. Build a bike loop to connect existing public parks. Provide alternative spaces for multiple uses. Increase amount of pervious pavement in parking lot to improve storm water management and visual quality. Provide public spaces for socializing and gathering to promote warm environment in Port Austin. Renovate historical buildings and structures to preserve historical characters while updating feature to meet future needs, such as bathroom and internet access.


Concept Statement

Port Austin is a village with a warm and friendly atmosphere, where people know their neighbors and take care of each other. Port Austin is a welcoming destination that invites people to stay, visit, relax, and recreate, and welcomes people. The inspiration of warm all year-round was formed through understanding the village’s unique cultural environment.

The proposed design aims to promote the warm atmosphere as a branding strategy to boost economic activity and encourage steady population throughout the year. By providing social spaces and improved connecting system (such as completed sidewalk and bike loop), neighbors and visitors become friends, making Port Austin “warm all year-round�.


Study Diagram After collecting and organizing all of the information, the group analyzed circulation system for boaters, visitors, and residents. As shown on these maps, interaction opportunities need to be improved in several areas: •

Visitors and boaters have different circulation routes and areas

Visitor Circulation Map shows that visitors’ routes are concentrated along the two main streets in the village (Spring St and Lake St).

Boaters Circulation Map shows that boaters’ visiting areas are concentrated in the central commercial area and waterfront park.


Study Diagram Additionally, several areas need to improve connectivity infrastructure: • Public spaces are limited for people looking to socialize. • The sidewalk system in the village is incomplete. • Public parks and major attractions are disconnected.

This diagram shows the existing public spaces and green spaces that are limited for people looking to socialize, and the existing sidewalk system that is incomplete in the village.

This diagram shows the proposed connection between public parks. The proposed sidewalk and bike loop connects both existing and proposed public parks and major attractions.


Study Diagram Furthermore, most parking spaces are concentered in the central commercial area, the area that has most development potential.

This diagram shows 5-minute walk circles for each of the attractions. The more an area is overlapped by the walk circles, the more often it is used. This usage pattern should be considered when developing the design.

This diagram shows the speed limits of different roads, as well as the existing parking spaces that are concentrated in the central area of the village.


Functional Use Diagram This diagram shows the main existing and proposed future land use. The waterfront area that includes the Waterfront park and boat launching site is proposed to provide flexible green spaces for more activities and events instead of a large area of asphalt and concrete.

Comments from critics:


Lack of connections in the village


Problems were not solved


Lack of analysis

The main commercial area is proposed to remain and the vacant housing units in this area will be renovated to provide more commercial spaces for entrepreneurs to support local businesses. The peripheral area bordering the commercial area is proposed to provide mixed use spaces that combine both commercial and residential units. The vacant space along Bird Creek is proposed to provide more green spaces for outdoor activities in Port Austin. Another vacant space on the west side of the village is proposed to provide short-term rental housing to attract more visitors and potential permanent residents.


Schematic Design According to study diagrams, schematic design was designed based on comments that we received from the functional use diagram. The schematic design was used to organize information, and generate solutions for the site.

Comments from critics:

Concept did not show on design

Need consequential spaces

Need feasible solutions

In the schematic design, the sidewalk and a bike loop were proposed to connect existing public parks. Vacant spaces were proposed to provide short-term rental housing to attract more people to stay, and public parks were integrated for opportunities to socialize. Overflow parking with a pervious surface was added to provide space for events and improve the visual quality of the parking infrastructure. Rather than expanding the village, the schematic design aims to improve existing and vacant spaces, further promoting the village’s warm environment by connecting people.


Master Plan

1 2 9








10 15 16




Program Elements 1. Extended deck over the water providing lake view, and allowing people to enjoy the lake 2. Renovated boardwalk trail extended to the lake, providing water access 3. Dog park including water fountains for pets and dog park, promoting a warm atmosphere for Port Austin’s pets as well 4. Amphitheater providing a place for people watching sunsets and sunrises, plus event venues. 5. Bridge across Bird Creek River allows sail boat access linking Bird Creek Park with Boat Launching Site for improved connectivity within Port Austin 6. Permeable multi-functional parking lots providing more opportunities for holding year-round events and activities, especially in winter. Permeable pavement improves stormwater management on site 7. Gazebos with picnic tables providing shade for people sitting and relaxing 8. Swimming beach providing space for people to enjoy the lake

9. Bike rental house encouraging people to use bikes rather than motorized transit through bike share program. It provides convenience for boaters visiting the village when they off the boat 10. Self-service sharing grocery stores providing places for people looking to share food and socialize, promoting the warm atmosphere in Port Austin 11. Bike loop and sidewalk Connecting existing and proposed public parks promoting walkability in Port Austin 12. Renovated gym providing a multi-functional place for residents gathering and exercising 13. Short-term rental housing providing housing for people searching for short-term housing, which will promote tourism in Port Austin 14. Community gardens providing educational activities for local communities, and a food source for local restaurants 15. Curbside raingarden improving water quality by filtering the storm water, and providing educational activities to local communities 16. Sculpture garden providing parking spaces for seasonal overflow parking and would invite artists to build installations that relate to local culture and history


Shoreline Park Improvement It includes two beautiful beaches, two parks, three parking lots, and access to the breakwall and marina. As one of the most visited areas for both residents and visitors of Port Austin, the area provides a panoramic view of Lake Huron and a space for outdoor activities. A proposed swing bridge over the Bird Creek would help connect the two parks improving connectivity between the two parks. Multifunctional parking lots provide space for various types of events, and the proposed pervious pavement in the parking lots would reduce surface runoff and improve visual quality. This area hosts most of the village’s events and festivals, and is considered to be a window into the charm and warmness of the village.

Photo by Karen Russcher

Existing parking lot with asphalt pavement

Photo by Karen Russcher

Existing Bird Creek county park with aging boardwalk

Bird Creek

Proposed Bird Creek county park

Proposed multifunctional parking lot


Central Commercial Area Revitalization Existing buildings to be preserved to connect the current culture with the village’s history. The renovation plan maintains the historical character of existing buildings, while providing different functions for the community. The central commercial area includes many vacant housing units and spaces. It is proposed to to use underdeveloped spaces to build more commercial buildings to encourage small local business.

Photo by Karen Russcher

Existing gym need to be renovated to provide more spaces for different users.

Photo by Karen Russcher

Proposed central business area with compact commercial buildings

Existing commercial area with vacant housing units

Proposed gym renovation with more rooms on the second floor for meetings

Photo by Karen Russcher

Existing vacant space in commercial area


Housing Opportunities This space was a vacant area that occupies 37 acres, and was zoned as multi-family residential, which includes more than one living unit in a building or complex. Short term rental housing is proposed to provide flexible housing options for different needs. Affordable housing opportunities attract young people and seasonal workers, and provide them a place to live and work with reasonable prices, improving the economy. A small neighborhood park provides public spaces for people looking to socialize and gather, promoting the warm environment of the village.

Existing 37 acres vacant space /

Proposed short-term rental housing area that integrates into the existing fabric of the village by using vernacular architecture styles similar to what exists in Port Austin

Proposed rental housing for young people and seasonal workers

Proposed neighborhood park provides social spaces


Proposed Park Area This area provides both educational and entertainment functions. The butterfly house and community garden allow people to learn about native plants and butterflies. The sculpture garden, that will be built on the existing 18 acres vacant space, provides a space for strolling and enjoying the local art. Parking lots provide seasonal overflow parking spaces for festivals and events. According to the watershed analysis, water is directed toward Bird Creek, curbside raingardens would be built to collect and filter storm water runoff before it flows back to groundwater aquifers. This also helps strengthen the connection with nature.

Photo by Karen Russcher

Existing location of Water Tower park and 18 acres vacant space

Proposed Water Tower park with community garden, butterfly house, and parking lot

Existing Water Tower park with butterfly house

Proposed sculpture park with overflow parking lot and art installation


Program Elements Program Elements:

Key Map

Bridge across Bird Creek River allows sail boat access linking Bird Creek Park with Boat Launching Site for improved connectivity within Port Austin

Permeable multi-functional parking lots providing more

opportunities for holding yearround events and activities, especially in winter. Permeable pavement improves stormwater management on site 0’ 125’ 250’ 375’


Program Elements Program Elements:

Key Map

Renovated boardwalk trail

extended to the lake, providing water access

Extended deck over the water providing lake view, and allowing people to enjoy the lake

0’ 125’ 250’ 375’


Program Elements Program Elements:

Key Map

Amphitheater providing a place for people watching sunsets and sunrises, plus event venues.

Gazebos with picnic tables

providing shade for people sitting and relaxing

0’ 125’ 250’ 375’


Program Elements Program Elements:

Dog park including water

Key Map

fountains for pets and dog park, promoting a warm atmosphere for Port Austin’s pets as well

Swimming beach providing

space for people to enjoy the lake

Fire pit Providing warmth for

people during colder months 0’ 125’ 250’ 375’


Program Elements Program Elements:

Key Map

Bike rental house encouraging

people to use bikes rather than motorized transit through bike share program. It provides convenience for boaters visiting the village when they off the boat

Self-service sharing grocery stores providing places for people

looking to share food and socialize, promoting the warm atmosphere in Port Austin 0’ 125’ 250’ 375’


Program Elements Program Elements:

Sidewalk Bike Loop Key Map

Bike loop and sidewalk

Connecting existing and proposed public parks promoting walkability in Port Austin

Renovated gym providing a

multi-functional place for residents gathering and exercising

0’ 125’ 250’ 375’


Program Elements Program Elements:

Short-term rental housing

providing housing for people searching for short-term housing, which will promote tourism in Port Austin

Community gardens providing educational activities for local communities, and a food source for local restaurants


Program Elements Program Elements:

Curbside raingarden improving water quality by filtering the storm water, and providing educational activities to local communities

Sculpture garden providing

parking spaces for seasonal overflow parking and would invite artists to build installations that relate to local culture and history


43 The section shows a bridge that connects two parks and a parking lot on both sides of the Bird Creek to improve the connectivity along the shoreline.

Key Map


Key Map

Section A - A’

0’ 20’ 40’ 60’ 80’


25 mile/hr road section

Key Map

. Slow traffic allows a combination of bikeways and road, which will save space for sidewalks in order to promote walkability in the central commercial area.

35 mile/hr road section A combination of bikeways and sidewalks protects bikers from fastmoving traffic. Plant beds provide buffer spaces between the road and bikeways and sidewalks, providing safety for bikers and pedestrians.


Individual Design Chapter

• • • • • • • • •

Individual Design Chapter-----------Individual Site Description------------Study Diagram---------------------------Concept & Design Intent------------Goals & Objectives--------------------Design Process--------------------------Master Plan-------------------------------Computer Graphics-------------------Section--------------------------------------

45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53-56

In individual chapter, each student selected a site within their group master plan, and more design details were provided to explain further design ideas. In this chapter, I selected an area along the shoreline of Lake Huron, because this area provides spaces for most activities in the Village of Port Austin.


Individual Site description Port Austin

After completing the Master Plan, members from each group selected an individual site that they were interested in, and each individual worked on the same design process as the Master Plan stage to provide a detailed design for the village of Port Austin. At this stage, individuals provided more design details, such as sections, images, sketches, 3D models, and enlargements, to explain their concept further.

Individual Site

The selected site is an area along the shoreline of Lake Huron. It consists of the Waterfront Park, Bird Creek County Park, a boat launch parking lot, a breakwall, and a marina. The total area of the selected site is approximately 16 acres.


Study Diagram

City Fabric

Existing sidewalk system

Existing parking space

Understanding the existing city fabric is important to guide and organize the design layout. Integrating the design into the city fabric helps to maintain the existing layout of the village.

The existing sidewalk system is incomplete along the shoreline. Connecting the existing parks and public spaces is important for providing safety and convenience for visitors and residents.

The existing parking spaces occupy large areas along the shoreline. The parking spaces have great locations with lake views. Renovating existing parking spaces to provide multiple uses is important for the village to promote events and activities in four seasons.


Concept & Design Intent Four Seasons

Design Intent:

Port Austin has a warm and friendly atmosphere, inviting people to visit and discover the village’s many sights. Port Austin has become known as a vibrant summer destination. However, through providing events, spaces, and facilities for all four seasons, Port Austin will truly connect to their residents and visitors, and become a year-round destination.

The design aims to provide public spaces for events and activities for each of the seasons, and to improve the connection along the shoreline.

Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth. Animals emerge once again, and plants and flowers start blooming. In Port Austin, people can enjoy blooming flowers in the flower plaza and the memorial walk during spring.

Summer is a vibrant season with a lot of sunlight. The sun provides us with the perfect weather to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. In summer, people can enjoy many water activities in Port Austin, such as swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing, and playing in the splash pad.

Fall is a bountiful season. The leaf colors around us change to red, orange, and yellow. Most of the harvests occur in the fall. In Port Austin, people can enjoy walking around the park shaped like a soybean, the “apple fire pit”, and the “pumpkin playground”.

Winter is a season to quiet your mind and enjoy the chill with skating on the ice. In Port Austin, the dog park provides a space for people and their dogs, while people can use the dog park to ice skate during winter, when they are not with their dogs.


Goals & Objectives



• • •

Improve the connectivity along the shoreline area Provide more public spaces for socializing and gathering Promote events and activities for all four seasons Provide alternative spaces designed for multiple uses

• • •

Connect sidewalks and crosswalks to enhance walkability and safety Create a swing bridge connecting Bird Creek Park with Water Front Park Create pedestrian islands to improve the accessibility and safety in the boat launch parking lot Renovate parking areas to provide spaces for yearround events and activities


Design Process

FUD 1:

FUD 2:

The diagram aims to provide more public spaces and flexible spaces for holding events and activities in different seasons. Through providing an improved sidewalk system, the selected site connects to the existing sidewalk system and the breakwall to provide safety and convenience.

The diagram provides a more detailed design. Program elements are provided to show the overall design layout that guide the final design. The design is built on the existing city fabric to organize elements into the existing layout of the village.


Program Elements

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Memorial Walk with ornamental trees for watching flowers. Flower plaza providing a place for watching flowers. Gazebo providing shade for people sitting and relaxing. Amphitheater providing a place for people watching sunsets and sunrises, as well as event venues. Beach providing space for people to enjoy the lake. Splash pad providing a space for children to play in water. Parking lot providing opportunities for year-round events and festivals.

8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

Swing bridge linking Bird Creek Park with Boat Launching Site for improved connectivity within Port Austin. Extended deck over the water providing lake view, and allowing people to enjoy the lake. Playground shaped like a pumpkin providing a place for activities for children. Fire pit shaped like an apple providing a place for bonfires. Dog park/Ice rink providing a place for ice skating in winter while also allowing people to play with their dog. Sidewalk shaped like a soybean emphasizing fall as a harvest season Public restroom


Computer Graphics

Existing Site Photo A

Existing Site Photo A



The existing parking lot with asphalt pavement is located in the central area, and it interrupts the connection along the shoreline.

The proposed parking lot provides spaces for parking and holding events and activities to improve the connection along the shoreline.


Providing a place for people watching flowers


Flower Plaza: ated-teamwork-revitalizes-river/



Concrete Pavement




The section shows a flower plaza that can be used for watching flowers blooming in spring. A lawn amphitheater is built for watching sunrises and sunsets year-round.

Planting Bed

36’ Flower Plaza

Concrete Pavement



Planting Bed




providing a space for children to play in water.


Splash Pad:


Splash Pad



The section shows a splashing pad that provides a space for people to enjoy water and outdoor activities during summer.






pumpkin thematic playground providing a place for activities for children 8344661882/










The section shows the “Soybean walk” and “Pumpkin playground”, which provide spaces for recreational activities while emphasizing fall as a harvest season.

















Providing a place for people to play with their dogs for four seasons


Dog Park:




The section shows a dog park that provides a space for both people and animals. The park also can be used as an ice rink for winter activities.

Dog park


Ice Rink


Dog park

Ice Rink

Ice Rink





Port Austin is located at the tip of the thumb region of Michigan. The village of Port Austin is a welcoming destination, and has a warm and friendly atmosphere inviting people to visit, relax, and recreate. However, the winter economy of Port Austin is less active than the economy in the summer months, and the village needs to market itself as a year-round destination. Exploring the village’s unique character becomes important in order to promote Port Austin’s identity, so that the village can attract visitors in all four seasons. The sharing economy is an economic model that has been recently gaining popularity around the world. This model involves borrowing and renting goods and services on a peer-to-peer basis, rather than purchasing them from a traditional retailer. Promoting the sharing economy in the village can be beneficial for entrepreneurs, residents, and visitors by reducing the costs of goods and services and opening new markets.

Additionally, providing rental housing at a reasonable price would help the village attract visitors and potential residents all year-round, while promoting the local economy. The circulation system is incomplete in the village and the sidewalks and crosswalks need to be complemented to provide convenience and safety for both residents and visitors. The shoreline area is an important area, that connects the village with Lake Huron. However, the management of this area not ideally organized, as there is a state harbor, a county park, and a village park, which are managed by the State of Michigan, Huron County, and Village of Port Austin, respectively, but there is no organization that manages the shoreline as a whole. Centralizing the management of the shoreline area will help Port Austin promote year-round activities. Through hosting events, festivals, and activities in each season, Port Austin will build its identity as a year-round destination.


Conclusion Studying Landscape Architecture (LA) has been a challenging yet rewarding experience in my life. Beginning with the drawings that I composed in my 100 level classes, Landscape Architecture jumped out to me as a unique form of art. When I stepped into the second year of the LA program, studying horticulture, construction, and site analysis provided me a further understanding of what Landscape Architecture was comprised of. From the advanced classes in the third year, different projects broadened my understanding of what a landscape architect does in practice. The Landscape Architecture Study Abroad to Europe experience gave me perspective on my future profession in cultures different from my own. In the fall semester of 2017, the LA 447 class provided me with an opportunity to engage in Landscape Architecture in a real-world context, by creating a proposal for the Village of Port Austin. The critics and community members gave me valuable feedback and comments that have helped me prepare for my career as a landscape architect. The process of completing the LA 447 project is challenging; exploring design solutions and managing time commitments with each stage of the project can be difficult, but the ultimate result of creating a set comprehensive designs that a real community uses for its future development is rewarding.

Photo by Michele Armstrong Morell

Additionally, overcoming the challenges I have faced in LA 447 has improved my communication skills and my ability to work efficiently. I am now more confident in my capacity to contribute to the profession more efficiently and effectively. Through communicating with community members from Port Austin and jury critics from the landscape architecture profession, I learned how to improve my design techniques and showcase my design work to future clients. The process of LA 447 was a major challenge in my academic career, but also provided me with the confidence to transition into becoming a professional landscape architect after graduation.


port austin  

a booklet

port austin  

a booklet