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My Story Landscapes have had a remarkable effect on who I am and the profession I have chosen. I grew up in farming country of western Michigan, northern Alabama, and the suburbs of North Atlanta. Each of the places has shaped my view on the world and how landscape has a role in an individual’s life, community, and the ecology of a place. My curiosity about landscape started at an early age and has carried its way through my education with landscape horticulture, eventually manifesting into my pursuit of being a landscape architect. Horticulture was my gateway into the profession and will always be carried through my work. It is an aspect of design

that is constantly changing and makes places dynamic. I am very grateful for my work experience in the horticultural world, it essentially led me to asking big picture questions that encompass design and the functions that humans have in our environment. Graduate school has provided a strong foundation for my future in the design world. My passion for experiencing, analyzing, and designing landscapes will never fade, but only grow. After all being a landscape architect is not only an occupation but also a way of life.


t a b l e

o f page 4- 1 7


c o n t e n t s

Studio Works

c ra ft a nd c o nte mpo rar y l an dscape _ t h e si s f al l 1 5’ -spring 16’

18 - 2 3

t h e l a f a y e tt e ex pre ss_ sp r i ng1 5 ’


ke n da l l c re e k par k mast e r pl an /si te pl an _ summer15’

30 - 3 5

D.I.R .T. a r m atu re w o r kshop_ sp r i ng1 5 ’

36 - 3 9

i n s c r i pt i o n plac e _ f al l 1 4 ’

Supplemental Works pa g e

40- 4 3

phy s i c a l m o del maki n g

44- 4 7

t hi nk i ng by han d

48- 5 1

pl a n t s t u di e s

52- 5 5

e c o l o gi c a l s t udi e s

56- 6 1

pho t o gra phy


craft and contemporary landscape

Studio Works a u b u rn , a l

project aims: The thesis was looked at through the lens of time, maintenance, and craft in the contemporary landscape. Each topic has incredible opportunity in the profession and I feel they are not given enough attention. Landscape maintenance is typically never addressed by the designer, which is a missed opportunity to choreograph the landscape on both ephemeral and long-term time scales. When thinking about long term landscapes, the idea of landscape craft comes to mind. While they have been prevalent in past landscapes, we are starting to see less craft in today’s landscape. The goal of the thesis exploration is to incorporate all these topics into a design that exhibits how a place can be dynamic from a function, aesthetic, and ecological stand point.

c li e n t s Auburn University

project outcome:

The continuous process of research and design yielded an exciting project that takes place on Auburn University’s lower quad dormitory. Through research, the land grant landscape once operated as a working landscape for students and professors. Themes of maintenance and craft presented themselves nicely for the location bringing that spirit back to campus. The final design resulted in a place that practices old crafts such as pleaching and pollarding, while also new crafts of a compost garden, plant succession, and turf management. The place acts as teaching laboratory and as a comfortable space for student and university functions. The design addresses function, aesthetics, and ecology for the install date to 40+ years.

h edge l a y ing ( midla nd sty le)


pleach e d es p al i er

l andsc ape c raft ex a m p le s

rak i n g o f z en g ard en

p ol l a rd e d tre e a l l ĂŠ e i n b r u s s e l s b e l g i u m

1 8 9 2 c am p u s p la n + c u rre n t

l a n d -gra nt la ndscape 1892

s am f o rd ha l l h al ey c e n te r ral p h b row n d rou g hn l i b ra r y j o rd an ha re s ta d i u m l o w er q u a d d or m i tor y ag ri c u l tu re hi l l ( c om e r ha l l , f u n c he s s ha l l )

d u d l ey a rc hi te c tu re ha l l

s am fo rd h al l

d o n al d e . d a v i s a r b ore tu m

aubu rn u ni v e r si ty teac hi ng l and sc ape

s t u de n t cade t s learn in g pru n in g t e ch n i q u es o n c am p u s

p ro f es s or a n d s tu d e n ts w or k i n g w i th p ea c h tre e


t i m e d la ndsca p e


y ear one

y ear te n

y ear t went y - fiv e

y ear f i fty

e p h e m era l la nds cap e m o r ning

c o m p ost g a rden

mi d- day

afte r no o n

s p o n t an eo u s v eg et at i o n s n eez ew eed

2” -4” c al i p er

. 5” -2” c al i p e r s ti c ks re d s p i d e r l i l y

4” -6” c al i p er at v ari e d l e n g ths

l ea f c om p os t


creat ive managemen t

Management schemes of today hardly address site specific issues. The maintenance is carried out in almost robotic like actions that yield that same looking landscape year in and year out. Through creative management and design, a landscape has the ability to unfold and grow as time goes on. By vary techniques the gardner is able to become more invested in the place. In the future the use of resources such as fuel, fertilizer, and fertilizers are going to have to be more carefully used to maintain landscapes. This is going to force the landscape profession to change the way it operates, maintains, and designs landscapes.


c o nv entio na l ma intena n ce

pru n in g t e ch n iqu e

res o u rc es

p l an t rem o v al /ad d i t i o n

w as t e rem ov a l

ha n d c ra ft


fina l t h es is p l an


ex i st ing & proposed trees

ex i s ti n g oa ks g r i d p l a n ti n g f u tu re p l ea c he d row f u tu re p ol l a rd tre e s

h ardsca pe

c on c re te w a l k w a y

s eati n g b e n c he s d i n i n g te r ra c e d i n i n g b e n c he s

g round pla ne s oi l a n d b ou l d e r s c r u s he d g ra n i te

c o mposit e plan


i n s t a llat ion The tree planting is very prominent with the installation. The same species of Hornbeam is planted with intention of creating juxtaposition of plant form as time passes by. The striations where soil and boulders are located will be planted with first successional annuals and perennials. The area for food trucks is easily accessible with benches and tables for eating. The terrace area conjoins with the southeastern building which has two different cafÊ’s. The open area to the east is managed so that both section have the same meadow mixture and same height.



y ear t en At this point there is a clear juxtaposition of plant form with the Hornbeam. The intended pleached row is taking place and action as a space divider. The pollarded trees where the dining tables are becoming more noticeable and really offer an interesting aesthetic in the winter. Meanwhile the grid planting allows the hornbeams to grow with their natural from. Students can be seen planting cherry whips after the successional plants have added nutrients to the soil. The meadow to the north has changed due to maintenance timing, the field is more short allowing open space activities. The southern field has been allowed to grow while cutting diagonal paths for transient students.



y ear fort y By this time, the craft of pleaching and pollarded has created clear juxtaposition and function for the same species. The compost garden has grown due to the increase of biomass on the site. The compost is distributed back to the soil creating rich soil ecology and also affecting the overall health of the place. The cherry whips have successfully grown and become a prominent form and helps add to the language of striation that encompasses the design. The soil has been slowly changed enough for another transplanting to occur, such as daffodils that require rich soil and specific light requirements that the site offers. The field to the east has been maintained so that the space can be used for popup tents that come along with tailgating for football games. A meadow border is seen around the area, which helps remind the user of the unique opportunities that come with maintenance and time.



the lafayette express

l a f a ye tt e , a l

project aims: The small community of Lafayette voiced their opinion on the need for recreation and healthy living. The main goal for the project is to find a way to connect the community through corridors and parks. The parks have already been implemented but are disconnected from neighborhoods and downtown. By connecting the neighborhoods and parks through sidewalks and corridors, the community should see an increase in recreation activity and a decrease in health problems and troubled youth.

project outcome:

Through research with GIS mapping and examining old sanborn maps, I discovered abandoned railroad that runs two blocks west of downtown. The terminus is located just north of town at the fairgrounds and runs south through town. I saw this as a perfect opportunity as a corridor connecting the city. The rails have been removed and what is left is a rail bed that has excellent grade for foot or bike travel. I focused on the downtown sector, which includes two museums and a beautiful meadow overlook. The final design resulted rail trail that intercepts a meadow overlook, the re-purposing of an old brick building into a event area, open space, and a picnic pavilion and playground adjoining to the county museum.


c li e n t s Parks and Recreation of Lafayette, AL

county museum


la fayette express + muse um par k

s ec t i o n A

mea do w o v erlook


exch an ge t o s t age an d t u rf area

re-p u rp o s ed b u i l d i n g i n t o s t ag e an d en t ert ai n m en t area

t u rf area f o r v i ew i n g s t ag e/ ac t i v i t y f i e l d

c ou n ty a g r i c u l tu re museum

pedestr ia n cro ss wa lk w i t h ra ilro a d theme

lafaye tt e expre s s

t rain t h e me d p l ay g ro u n d

p i c n i c p av i l i o n

county museum


s e c t i on A


meado w o ve rlo o k


kendall creek park

columbus, ga

project aims: The transformation of a 600-acre loblolly pine plantation to state park is the goal for this project. The city of Columbus wants a park that offers sport fields and outdoor recreation. The Nature Conservatory who owns the property currently agrees to turn over the land if a restoration of longleaf pine takes place. These interesting situations possess unique opportunities for strategies of transformation. The site has many historical sites with past Muskogee creek Indians that must be respected by surrounding design.

project outcome: The design is able to combine all the needs from both clients. By utilizing logging roads and docking areas a system of trails and open spaces have been designed. Sport fields and a 18 hole disc golf course are located on the western portion of the tract. The creek that runs down the middle of the site offers a prime area for fishing, water recreation, and bouldering. Along the three creeks on the site are areas designated for tent camping. A strategic plan of removing loblolly and planting longleaf is created so that the recreational activities do not interfere with that process and also with the burning regime. The design reflects the need for burning to maintain a healthy longleaf ecosystem. The outcome is a large state park that offers a multitude of recreation opportunities for the surrounding communities while completing the long transformation process of a longleaf pine ecosystem.


c li e n t s The Nature Conservancy Columbus Parks and Rec.


h u m a n a c t i vi t i e s

s i t e design


beach headrace



r ipa r ia n commu nity

l o bl o l l y pi ne c o mmuni ty

l o nglea f p i n e c o m m u n i t y

white oak sycamore river birch beautyberry black cherry red bud red maple sweetshrub sassafras silky dogwood willow oak red buckeye sweetshrub witchhazel oakleaf hydrangea brackenfern water oak florida sugar maple pignut hickory nutmeg hickory

loblolly pine persimmon sassafras eastern red cedar souther red oak water oak southern magnolia sweetshrub green briar blackberry saw palmetto yucca filmentosa pawpaw american holly yaupon holly winged sumac vaccinium spp.

longleaf pine pencil flower loblolly pine beggers tick silk grass meadow beauty plume grass lespedeza spp. galitica persimmon sassafras saw palmetto winged sumac bog pink vanilla plant baptisia spp. wiregrass


pl ants + so i l

ani mal hab i tat


re c reat ion + ecol ogy


f ore st ex per ie n ce


D . I . R .T a r m a t u r e w o r k s h o p

mo nt g o m e ry, a l

project aims: The primary objective for this one week workshop is to connect the cypress creek wetlands to the Alabama river via rail and creek corridors. The cypress creek wetland is an urban wild that is located just 10-minute walk from downtown Montgomery. It is under utilized and devoid of purpose to the city and its residents. The tract of land stretches from the east to west from wetland to river and is divided into 5 teams of two students. Kevin Chandler and I were responsible for section 3 and aimed to connect the natural resources by an abandoned railroad and cypress creek.

project outcome: All five teams successfully found ways to utilize the urban wild to connect the two natural resources. Kevin and I looked at building stream health by installing a weir that allows for pooling water and increased ecological activity. The existing railroad has been proposed for a corridor for both cyclist and pedestrians while keeping the wild and woolly feel of the place. Our site offered a great opportunity for an armature reaching from downtown to the rail corridor. The armature also features an overlook to the industrial land that borders the urban wild.


c li e n t s D.I.R.T. Studio Montgomery City Planning Department


rai l a n d creek plan


m ea d ow exc ha n g e

ov e r l ook

a r m atu re c on n e c ti n g d ow n tow n to s i te


p h a sing sequence

m i n i mum

m e d i um

maxi mu m

The goal for the minimum is to connect the rail bed and the cypress creek to the Alabama river. This would be the first step in completing the entire project. The client would invest for little and still receiving high functionality for its users.

For the medium option, connecting the armature from down town to the existing rail bed is a priority. An overlook helps to connect the armature to the corridors while also offering a view across the industrial land of Montgomery. Also the stream restoration and weir would take place on the northern portion of the site at cypress creek.

The previous two interventions has set up the site nicely. In this phasing of the project building a residential area is priority. In its current existence, this side of the city has very little housing. Just a few blocks from downtown, this is under utilized real estate for the people of Montgomery.


weir section



inscription place

mon t g o m e ry, a l

project aims: This studio was focused on how public art can act as a catalyst for urban regeneration. The site chosen for me is by the city planning department is a post office that is located 2 blocks east of downtown Montgomery. The aim for the site is to recognize all the writers that Alabama have come from the state of Alabama. The theme that is trying to be brought out on the site is how materiality plays a critical role in how the site is designed and perceived by its users.

c li e n t s project outcome: The public art includes and inscription area of the site that has signs that project quotes on the ground via sunlight. Also a system of removable letters is installed into the crushed granite so that quotes from writers can be changed throughout the years. The site acts as a node that connects neighbors to the east to downtown Montgomery. Included is a small cafĂŠ that users of the post office will enjoy as well as transient students from the next-door Troy University. The space acts as an area that recognizes the power of writing in our society and a gather space for students and surrounding residents.


the clients consisted of blank

s ec t i o n A

s ec t i o n B


s ect i o n A

s ect i o n B 38

i n s cr ipt ion place


physical model making The use of representing a design through physical model making is a way for landscape architects to test and evaluate. The act of assembling a landscape makes the designer question and function and atmosphere of a place. This often yields to questions that improve the design by being able find flaws that are inherent in design practice. This mode of representation is not limited to a final design but is also very useful in coming to a conclusive outcome. This is an exercise that I enjoy doing and is also a way to show a design to a client that is not familiar with reading plan or section drawings. My style of physical model typically has a minimum color palette that helps make the forms and bones of the design more legible to the viewer. The first model shown is the final design from the Kendall creek studio. The model features an area where the creek runs through with lots of topographical change. The plant communities are represented with the bordering riparian

ken dall creek model


Supplemental Works

hardwoods and the suggesting planting scheme for the longleaf pine ecosystem. A system of white poles is used to denote where the edge of the longleaf pine planting takes place. It is also used as a measuring device that shows the growth cycle of longleaf pines and spatial change of the bordering plant communities. The second model is a representation of a longleaf pine rotation occurring in Auburn University’s arboretum for a class called plant spatiality. The site feature 4 divisions that host the different life cycles of the pine tree. This site is designed to be didactic and show student and victors the life cycle and a glimpse of its ecosystem. There are a few mature pines on the site already and are incorporated into an overlook platform. The site design capitalizes on the immersive properties that the pine tree has when planting with traditional agriculture form.


pla n t s patial ity model



thinking by hand The process of drawing and analyzing is perhaps the soul of landscape architecture. Having the ability to express your ideas with pencil and paper is critical to sharing your thoughts. This is the first step in the design process for me. I was taught to get as many ideas out on paper and then to analyze the strengths and weaknesses from those drawings, and then to start the process again. It is a process of iteration that with enough work expresses all ideas into a

cohesive design. Drawings such as axons, sections, plans, perspective, and word maps all test each other and with enough time achieve my goals. This section offers a few projects and the rough drawings that take place before the final drawings take place. This is where the real designing takes place, then when finished is taken into the computer to be polished and revised to show clients.

re mo v abl e l e tte rs seatin g ben ch This is a granite seating bench that takes place in the inscription place design. This portion of the site is designed to have a pervious surfaces so less water enters the city sewer system.


This is the quote system that takes place in the inscription place design. It shows how to the in birds eye view only the polished granite letter is showing. This design allows for the letter to be dug up and arranged to make different quotes from Alabama writers.

dou ble retainin g w al l anal y si s For this drawing, the objective was to go out in an urban area and find a detail and analyze to the best of my ability how it was built. It was an interesting retaining wall system that offered a challenge in replicating the drawing.


l ee d s , A L pocket park

This is an example of drawings from my GRA work for the MLA program. The pocket park is modeled to celebrate the concrete industry in the town. Variations of concrete use are seen through section and plan drawings. s e ct ion A

s ec t i o n A

s e ct ion B

the s i s explorat ion These drawings show the variations of grid planting that I was experimenting with for my final thesis design. A language of striations is easily seen with each of the drawings. The iterative process of drawing and analyzing helped to conclude my final design for the Auburn University campus.


s e c ti on B

ex p eri en c e

d i sc o v e r i ng l af ay e tt e ex p re s s The drawing on the left shows an exploded axon of the entire rail bed that runs through the city of Lafayette. This was made during the analysis stage in which I walked the entire corridor and made notes.

m at eri al s

p l an t s

c o rri d o r f eat u re

v i ew s h ed

c i rc u l at i o n


plant studies My whole life I have had a fascination with the plant world. It started with the ephemerality of trees and collecting leaves as they changed to their fall color. As mentioned early my undergraduate degree is landscape horticulture. I took three classes in the Auburn MLA program that had a focus on plants. The three classes consisted of plant functionality, ephemerality, and spatiality. Each of those taught by professor David Hill offered different insight to the world

of plants in landscape architecture than what I previously learned in landscape architecture. My view of planting design has shifted greatly from ornamental plantings to using plants to shape space and evoke a dynamic atmosphere from the potentials of the ground plane, shrub layer, and canopy layer. In this section I show a selected project from each of those classes.

sketching fiel dw ork

R hu s ty p hi n a

Ae s c u l u s pa v i a

Q u e rc u s a l b a

Pr unus sero t in a Part h en o c i s s u s q u i n q u ef o l i a


m i c ro- climat e paintin g 49

ph enolog y s tudy



ecological studies For years our society has viewed ecology as being separate from human beings. Well today that is not the case. Through graduate classes I learned that humans are inherently a part of ecology and play a critical role in the flora and fauna of the surrounding environment. With this being understood landscape architects can have a part in how design can have a major effect on the surrounding environment even if the project is small. It is also understood that the ecology affects

re- p u r p o sed ga s s t at i o n i n t o res t a ura nt

lo ca l h an gou t lo cation

impe rmeable s ide walk

l o g g i n g t ru c k f ro m s u rro u n d i n g t i m b er i n d u s t ry

the health of humans. Studies have shown that urban spaces that lack healthy plants and animals have an impact on the overall health of people. There are now different ranges of ecological studies such as social ecology and urban ecology. With these evolving fields, the profession of landscape architecture is becoming more aware how much we influence ecology and the potentials to increase the overall ecology of a place.

d ry an d n u t ri en t l ac k i n g s o i l

roa dside ecol ogy anal ys i s This project focused at analyzing right of way conditions in rural towns in central Alabama. Above is the current condition of downtown Tuskegee. The image to the right is the ecological condition of agricultural land just south of Tuskegee. 52

s t reet t ree w /d ef i c i en t ro o t s y s t em

v ac an t building

c ott on fie ld w/ rich agricu lt u ral s oil

s pon t an e ou s R . O.W ve ge t at ion bu ffer/ pollin at or h abitat

i m p erm eab l e s u rf ac e w i t h p ac ked c l ay f o u n d at i o n

R . O.W

an d ro p o g o n s p. b u ff er t o p i n e p l an t at i o n

u ti l i ty lines

2 0 y ea r ol d l ob l ol l y p i n e p l a n tati on


p ar k i ng lot ecolo gy For this urban ecology study I decided to analyze the retail parking lot conditions in the Auburn area. I found that lots were often seas of asphalt that were not being used to their full potential. Most were over sized and lacked an sign of healthy ecology. A comparison of the spatial dimensions is shown to the right in an exploded axon. I choose to dig deeper on the biggest lot at the Auburn mall. I found that only 10% was used for parking and it was abundant with high maintenance ornamental planting. One positive is that they use the lot as a Christmas tree farm for a month out of they year. This helps to boost the social ecology of the place. I projected a future scenario for the parking lot and provided an ideogram to help visualize what a new uses could come from the massive parking lot.

emerging e cology

o r na me n t al e cology

cu rre n t con d i t i o n

s oc i al ec o l o g y


p ro j ec t ed c o n d i t i o n


photography After taking a landscape photography class I quickly learned how a camera could be an essential tool for viewing and studying landscapes. For me, the camera allows me to slow down and further investigate what is going on with a landscape. It is a moment in time that is recorded so that you can look back and review picture endlessly. Many times when I am experiencing a landscape I only make mental notes of the things that really stand out to me, which in turn in forget the small details. Using a camera forces you too look deeper into the place and to really uncover some of the


smaller aspects that work in harmony with the big picture. I think that photography holds as a valuable tool to landscape architects. It allows us to explore our environment and learn from how people use landscapes. It also builds a memory of past examples that can help influence designs. Understanding the composition and exposure of a photograph can capture the essence of a built project, which helps add to a portfolio and potentially landing another future client.

u rb a n


r u ra l la ndsca pe



p l an t focus



contact info phon e: 256.497.3344 e-mail: rjb0015@aubu r n.e d u l in kedin: ball ardryanj in stagram: ball ard_lightbox

Landscape Architecture Portfolio  
Landscape Architecture Portfolio  

Ryan Ballard selected works from Auburn MLA program