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Revealing Ecology - Adapting Economy - Enhancing Community

Lee M. Pouliot

Master of Landscape Architecture Candidate Concentration 2010 111 south quarry st. apt. b13 ithaca, ny 14850 413-265-3788

Revealing - Adapting - Enhancing


Everyone who is going to read this already knows that I began my college career as a Biology student concentrating on Botany and Plant Research. I wanted the white coat to go with the snazzy, technologically advanced laboratory where I would work endless hours extracting the secrets plants hold - leading ultimately to a cure for some widespread ailment or disease. I loved conducting lab experiments. Precision and accuracy became personal challenges to conquer - down to the smallest drop of material possible. I was so precise that my lab partners, also my roommates, relied on me to get us the best possible results during our experiments. Nothing sort of genius right?

Centennial Park - Bay St. Louis, MS Conditions, two years after Hurricane Katrina.

Wrong. Without said roommates, I would have failed the lecture portion of every laboratory class we took together. I wasn’t inspired to understand these deep theories that could never be visualized - to me it seemed like scientists were guessing as to what was happening at the atomic level to draw a complicated picture showing their ideal process. Moral of the story: good-bye Biology hello Environmental Design and Ornamental Horticulture. I was attracted to Environmental Design as an undergraduate at Delaware Valley College because it offered me the chance to work with a lifelong interest (plants) in various contexts. I realized I had the opportunity to make vegetation a dominant landscape feature everywhere. I was of the mind set that people came secondary to re-establishing plant communities; we had destroyed enough of the natural world and it was my calling to be begin healing these wounds.

Centennial Park - Bay St. Louis, MS Conditions, nine days after the Delaware Valley College team arrived.

Home of Charles Grey - Bay St. Louis, MS Landscape irony - Realizing the social implications of landscape.

Inspiration found again. Design was absolutely thrilling to me. It allowed me to combine my skills in science with a desire to create an aesthetic style utilizing plants. Being in a program called Environmental Design, meant that the needs of plants were paramount in all my projects. Soil testing, understanding shade patterns, water patterns, season winds - highly specific analysis to select the best possible plant species for a site. Go to the next level - how does a designer ‘create’ or ‘recreate’ a plant community - a system? It was all a challenge to me and for a few years captivated my attention day in and day out. Hurricane Katrina ended that captivation. Working on Katrina Relief Projects nearly two years after the storm battered the Gulf Coast opened my eyes to a world I had never been exposed to; a world that was in pain, deserted, forgotten - where a love of place had ended and the dynamic qualities of place had...died. I spent 9 days working in Bay St. Louis and Waveland, Mississippi installing new designs created by a team of students in Pennsylvania. What’s funny is that of all the amazing experiences dealing with design that


occurred during those 9 days - the most influential has nothing to do with design - it has everything to do with people. One person in particular. One lady in her 70’s who came out to help my classmates and I inspire a community to begin cleaning up their park for installation of ‘my’ design for the space. She was 70 years old, rolling muddy tires around, picking up litter and debris as if she were a teenager full of energy. She told us her story - of not getting away in time - of coming back to find her home and belongings gone - her church gone - her beloved organ on which she played hymns every Sunday gone. The passion this woman took in her once a week duties moved many of us. I don’t think we had ever been in a position to experience such emotion. In the end, we all banded together and worked with people back home in Pennsylvania to purchase a Korg keyboard and all necessary components to be shipped down to our new friend so she could once again play music for her congregation.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park - Waveland, MS Conditions, two years after Hurricane Katrina.

On day 9 we presented her with a card and picture of everything that was coming in the mail. She cried; we cried. I’ll never forget the look on her face when she realized what we had found a way to do. Today, though, I’ve never actually seen it happen, I know somewhere in Waveland, Mississippi a congregation of people are gathering to worship and sing songs they have been singing for years before my arrival. They are, in essence, reconnected to a very special, spiritual place. This new found ability to interface with ‘regular’ people - those whom are most affected by the work I want to do re-framed my thinking about what design should attempt to address. Prior to Cornell, a feeling that there was a missing layer in my design work was ever present. What I could only realize through my time at Cornell is that social issues had gained a foothold in my design process.

Dr. Martin Luther King Park - Waveland, MS Conditions, nine days after the Delaware Valley College team arrived. Team photo with community volunteers (at right).

At the end of my senior year at Delaware Valley College, I was unaware of the unconscious evolution of my design philosophy. In retrospect, I now realize that I was moving away from a focus on creating aesthetic, plant communities in every landscape situation to dealing with existing social issues. As Mississippi was my last design however, the opportunity to continue this evolution was nearly lost. Only with some ‘gentle’ prodding from my advisor, Eve Minson did I find myself accepted to the MLA program at Cornell. I was now poised to continue this evolution for another three years. Begin reinvention.

Stairs to Nowhere - Waveland, MS Landscape irony - A family once called this ‘home.’


‘Counter-Rhythm’ - LA-5010 Second studio project, colored pencil on bond.

‘The Urban Estuary’ - LA-6010 Hudson rail yards development scheme, sketch-up model.

Hindsight seems to reveal tiny pieces of a larger puzzle. Individually these appear to be of small consequence: elements lost in translation. However, pull these pieces into their proper places and reactions, interactions and relationships form that reveal a path otherwise hidden behind the present’s unfolding; a chain reaction that effectively leads to the present day. The past three years at Cornell are no exception to this process. As I prepare to enter the professional world, I move forward with a well developed philosophy that is the result of an interaction between my undergraduate sensibilities expanded through explorations and opportunities. The following projects represent the full application all key elements within ‘Concatenation’ - the philosophy that best represents my view of Landscape Architecture and the role I accept as a practitioner. What’s clear is that I’ve moved away from my aesthetic plant community focus to dealing with new socials issues, balanced with a new found understanding of ‘economy’. I’ve matured as a designer, accepting the design as a dynamic, unfolding, neverending process. I leave Cornell still asking myself many of the same questions I asked at the end of my undergraduate work. How do designers mature and evolve over time? Do designers truly evolve or simple explore new interests and shift focus? Am I truly cognizant of my own evolutionary process and can I control it? Does having a conscious play a part? Can balance between aesthetics and social awareness be found? What role do economies play in design? Honesty, I have no interest in answering these questions. Of everything I’ve learned during time spent in Kennedy Hall, the most valuable is the realization that design is an dynamic, ever-evolving, often messy process that hardly ever follows a linear path. I have no interest in specializing in a particular category of design projects. Instead I imagine working on a wide variety of project types. Life is complicated, unexpected and riddled with challenges and opportunities. So too is the design world and this is the field’s most attractive characteristic. As Rick Findlay states,

‘Adaptation’ - ULI/Gerald D. Hines student urban design competition 2010 team submission, Photoshop perspective & Sketch-up model

“I am a collector, which is something of a curse in the gardening world. Rather than acquire plants to realize a design, I purchase them on their merits and then struggle to integrate them into an ever changing landscape. It’s tough on the design, but otherwise satisfying.”

The realization of design as a dynamic, ever-evolving, messy process is partially revealed by Findlay. His process is collection from which his garden’s true design results. His preconceived, planned design adjusts in response to an altered, unexpected process of evolution. Process, then, is key to the success of any resulting design. It is within the realm of process that I believe ‘Concatenation’ lives and where I envision myself working.

Philosophy Concatenation: “...a series of inter-connected or inter-dependant things...”

“ connect or link in a series or chain...”

Landscapes are not static... ...they are created, destroyed and/or re-created through chain reactions.




To catalyze new relationships between ecology, economy and community is to intervene in a landscape’s evolution. By re-imagining these relationships through the actions of revelation and adaptation, an altered process results which leads to an enhanced interconnected landscape.


H.E.A.L Chicopee

Health, Ecology, Activity, Legacy...

A Strategic Plan for the Uniroyal / Facemate Properties

Site: former Uniroyal / Facemate properties - Chicopee, MA Team: Christian Gruber, Christopher Hardy, Christopher Horton,

Declan Keane, Lee M. Pouliot

Goal: The development of a strategic plan integrating the elements of

Health, Ecology, Activity and Legacy. The plan creates a framework where community identified programming can be interwoven with land banked areas for future development should the market demand such additions.

Riverfront Park

Site: Mark Twain Riverfront Park - Elmira, NY Team: Brooke Eddis, Christopher Hardy, Julie Johnstone, Nick Pettinati,

Lee M. Pouliot, Howie Russell, Matthew Sturz, Joshua Yost

Goal: Through a community design process re-imagine the park while addressing the following opportunities: - bridge the divide between downtown & the Chemung River - activate the waterfront through programming & accessibility - catalyze Elmira by spurring new economic investment

ADAPTATION 2010 ULI/Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition Site: East Village - San Diego, CA Team: Tyler Grooms, Julie Johnstone, Brendan Ledley, Sara Lepori, Lee M. Pouliot Goal: To catalyze further redevelopment in the East Village by achieving the highest/best sustainable use of the property and generating new economic activity.

Rust Renewed

Returning Jobs, Community and Ecology to Grays Crescent

2010 Ed Bacon 4th Annual Student Design Competition 1st place Site: Grays Ferry Crescent - South Philadelphia, PA Team: Zac Boggs, Maureen Bolton, Tyler Grooms, Dan Kelleher, Chris Koenig, Lee M. Pouliot Goal: Address issues of an abandoned site, the future of industrial land, contamination, sustainability, neighborhood connectivity, asset connectivity, community design, issues of equity/historic memory.


The following courses represent key elective opportunities which have informed the development of Concatenation. Elements of materials covered in each of these classes combine to inform the design process of each of the preceding projects. Course: Rust 2 Green (participatory action research) Seminar Professor(s): Jamie Vanucchi, Paula Horrigan & Deni Ruggeri Synopsis: This Landscape Architecture seminar focused on the tenants of community participation and community design processes. Students worked in the communities of Binghamton & Utica, NY to test theories and begin initial stages of community activation in creating a larger vision of Rust 2 Green in each community. Topics discussed included information from the three courses that were combined to create the seminar including Theory and Research Methods, Placemaking by Design & Green Infrastructure.

Course: Introduction to Green Real Estate Professor(s): Mark Vorreuter Synopsis: A City & Regional Planning course, emphasis was placed on the concepts of sustainability, green design and development. Discussion topics

ranged from the numerous certification programs (Energy Star, LEED systems, etc.) to alternative energy systems and how the real estate market views this concepts and markets ‘green’ product. The course also fulfills the prerequisite for the Green Associate Exam, the first step in becoming a LEED accredited professional.

Course: Golf & Sports Turf Management I & Independent Research Professor(s): Frank Rossi Synopsis: These two electives, offered through the Horticulture Department focused on the often misconstrued world of turfgrass. Emphasis was

places on sustainable design and maintenance of various turf system types (low to high intensity use versus low to high intensity maintenance. Through independent research, a team of student collaborated to evaluate the SITES program (certification system for landscapes) to devise suggestions for the inclusion of turf grass in the system. This document will be sent to the SITES Core Committee for review.

Course: Restoration Ecology Professor(s): Tom Whitlow Synopsis: Another elective offered through the Horticulture Department, Restoration Ecology focused on the science and technology behind restoration techniques and practices utilized in a number of fields. The cross-disciplinary character of the course enriched the semester long study of wetland mitigation for the proposed Ithaca College Sports Complex development. The study covered a wide variety of research and data collection from species diversity and wetland mapping to designing for locally endangered animal species.

Course: Water & Land Professor(s): Jamie Vanucchi Synopsis: An elective through the Landscape Architecture Department, this class focused on the technical aspects of stormwater management. Topics

covered included stormwater calculation methods specific to New York state, regulatory processes, laws and current practices. This material was then applied to a project situated on Cornell’s campus - where the class reviewed the campus master plan and integrated new stormwater techniques into the plan’s framework. The project was then presented to campus administration, including the campus Landscape Architect.


Concentration Paper required by the Landscape Architecture Department upon graduation. Explains the development of Concatenation and how th...