Tuesday, April 3, 2012

First day of my first internship

I started my internship with the Friends of Buford Park/Mt. Pisgah here in Eugene today. I am officially a Habitat Restoration Intern at an amazing park located about 15 minutes away (by car) from my home. I have previously visited this park for field trips with various classes, as well as for the Mushroom Festival that is held at the Arboretum. Buford Park occupies 2,300 acres of land situated between the Middle Fork and Coastal Forks for the Willamette River. It contains riparian forests, dense fir forests and some absolutely AMAZING oak savannas and prairies.

I'm so excited about getting my hands dirty again!  I'll be spending 2 days a week for the next 10 weeks helping in the native plant nursery learning (and best of all, DOING) seasonal propagation and maintenance operations including planting, irrigation, weeding, harvesting, sales, and record keeping.  I'll also have the opportunity to learn to identifying characteristics for dozens of native plants in different stages of development. I'm particularly interested in the planning that goes into this sort of restoration and nursery operation and plan to ask about it after I get enough info about the basics of my tasks.

It was raining this morning when I arrived. There were about half a dozen other students there and so I began introducing myself around to everyone. In addition to the students, I met Jessica, the volunteer coordinator, and Hal, the man who makes all the magic happen.

Jessica and Hal gave us a brief overview of the mission and operations of the Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah. Most importantly, they explained that while Lane County owns the park, that the Friends complete most of the habit restoration and maintenance for the property. Further, I learned that the Mt. Pisgah Arboretum only holds a lease on a small parcel of the land from the county.

We took a tour of the greenhouse and talked about the seed starting operations and then moved out into the field/lot areas of the nursery. We talked about the non-native invasive plants that are starting to release seed and what was most important to remove from the gardens. Then, we got to work.

We weeded a large plant bed this morning that was FULL of weeds (plants that didn't belong there). It was supposed to be a bed of Grindelia integrifolia, Willamette Valley Gumweed. But it was full of just about everything else instead. There were six of us weeding for more than an hour and we only finished up about half of it! I'm looking forward to seeing a bed full of these: 

After that, we split up into different tasks. I helped with dividing large pots of Juncus petans, Common Spreading Rush. We planted small sprigs of the divided plant into one gallon pots and then moved all of them to the shade lot area for rushes.

Before I knew it, I was dirty and time was up. This morning was a rainy start to what will hopefully be a fantastic internship.

I'm looking forward to being out there on days like this:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Losing an amazing mentor and landscape architect

It's come to pass that my mentor (a landscape architect), my peer and friend is dying from cancer. It just had to be breast cancer. Interductal carcinoma, diagnosed too late.

She is the parent to a 14 year old girl who excels at school, has a fierceness about her that is ALL her mother and a tenderness of heart that is unbelievable for someone dealt such a bum hand. She is the wife to an Englishman who's heart is bigger than his body. She is my friend, my mentor and supporter. She is/was such an inspiration and light in this world.

It hurts so much and makes me incredibly sad. If you want to read about it, go here. If you want to help... tell me.

I've been working my drawing muscles

My hands hurt. No, really. My right hand and wrist hurt (and I love it!)

I completed all of my required courses last term and am simply taking a drawing workshop and a class on wetland design this term. The drawing workshop is an intensive week-long course. THIS week. I've spent the three days, 8-9 hours per day sketching. Woah! My hand hurts!

During the last two terms, my drawing work was almost exclusively digital and I wanted to get a bit of a refresher. Some of the in-class drawings/sketches have come out so well that I'm going to add them to my portfolio as soon as I get them back. Yay for portfolio addition.

Look for awesome sketches in the next few days.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The final final final

Last Friday afternoon, I presented my final studio presentation for my comprehensive project. My family and friends attended my presentation to the panel of reviewers. It went surprisingly well and except for the fact that I was so nervous and anxious that my mouth dried out and I could barely form words, I'd call it a success. So, let me tell you about the project that has totally consumed my life for the last year.

"The talk"
I started off my talk by discussing the history of the site. Ecologically, the site is a second growth redwood forest with steep topography and suffers from seasonal flooding in the winter and dryness in the summer. Historically, it was an old growth forest that was harvested for timber, burned over for conversion to farm land and then identified as sub-marginal farm land prior to its development as a Recreation Demonstration Area (RDA). Built by the WPA and CCC as part of the new deal, it provided a low cost way for families and groups to experience nature. This is a picture of one of the community buildings during construction:

Next, I talked about how the site has fared since its construction. Largely unchanged since construction, it is a unique example of CCC/WPA construction. As one of only two RDAs constructed west of the Rockies it is historically signficance. Due to its high level of historic integrity it was recommended and approved for designation as a National Historical Landmark.

What you really need to know is that today, the park is owned by California State Parks and managed by a non-profit organization founded by campers. The park contains three distinct camps within it. 

Ok, here's where I got all "mission statement and goals" blah blah blah...
My project sought to provide a plan for the park to be able to successfully navigate the next 100 years. I even had a mission statement. Yes, a mission statement, supporting goals, objective and strategies. Basically my overarching idea was to plan for the current and future needs of the park created by changing populations, values and landscapes while still respecting its historic and ecological characteristics.

Basically, I created a set of interventions that were applied at a specified scale over the 720 acre park. Some of these scales, were applied at the Park-wide scale, some at all of the camps and then others were only applied in specific camps.  My goals included the following areas: Forest Management, Circulation, Accessibility, Wayfinding and Interpretive Design. 

I know, I know, you're sitting there thinking, "why are you still talking instead of showing me pretty pictures?" I think it's because I've spent so much of the last several months trying to organize my project into a 20 minute spoken explanation and it feels like all I can do now... so instead of my talking more and more, here are some cool perspectives, plans and sections for you to make your eyes and mind happy with. All of them were digitally produced and rendered using a combination of AutoCAD, Illustrator, Photoshop and SketchUp.

The plans: 

 Camp 1

Camp 2:

Camp 3: 

Section perspective of Camp 3 (sorry that the plan view above doesn't have a section cut line... I did that after producing the drawings):

Dining hall                            New pedestrian bridge over directed stream                  New nature center

Perspective view of proposed Nature Center in Camp 3:

I've been a busy girl. Here's what the final poster ended up looking like. It was so, so, so pretty. I'm rather proud of it actually (it's 11' long, so I had to shrink it dramatically to be able to post it here):

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How many rendered versions of a plan can I possibly have?

The saga continues. I've been working on a rendering style for my the plan view for the camps. I started with Camp 1. It's difficult because the entire park is completely covered by a dense canopy of second growth redwoods. I mean, in a real plan view you wouldn't see ANYTHING on the ground plane. So I've been working to develop a rendering that both shows that there's a dense canopy throughout, but also shows what's happening on the ground plane.

Here's my first attempt:
This first attempt is ugly, ugly and ugly. It doesn't really show the new plan well and it looks like something you might see on a fail blog. So I kept at it... tried multiple things and it just sucked. So I took the aerial into Illustrator, drew a tree shape using the pencil tool, used a clipping mask to clip a tree shape from the aerial photo. I then brought that into Photoshop and copied and pasted different sized/rotated versions of that about a billion times to get to this point of coverage. I also used color adjustment layers after bringing in the "vector smart object" line work for the plan from Illustrator. So here's the second attempt: 
I showed it to a friend who is not in Landscape Architecture and she said that the ground plane within the camp looked like it was scrub/shrub. Having that insight was helpful.. because I didn't see it that way. So I took her comments and have not come to this point (it's actually version 6 or 7): 
I'm a lot happier with it now, but I think I need to add some texture or detail to the water to give it some depth. Now, on to camps 2 and 3.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Working, working working

I've been busily working on my comprehensive project. I know... I know, I've been so busy working on my comp project that I have posted anything about it here. Here's the summary of the project: 

"My project is both a historic preservation and comprehensive master plan. The project is called: Evolve and Preserve: Planning our future history in the Mendocino Woodlands. The project site is the Mendocino Woodlands State Park, a 720-acre family and group camp in Mendocino, California.

It was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a a recreation demonstration area and is a National Historic Landmark.

Located within a second-growth redwood forest, the Woodland’s structures are suffering from deterioration due to the evolution of the forest over the last 75 years. The closed canopy forest has reduced sunlight and air circulation, and seasonal erosion has damaged structures, roads and paths.

A cultural landscape inventory was completed in the spring of this year and the cultural landscape report is near completion.

My goal is to work with the various stakeholders to develop a comprehensive master plan that will address preservation needs for the landscape and the structures as well as plan for future needs that will be effected by changing populations, climate and values."

So yeah, it's big, it's complex and it's amazing. It's in the California redwoods and all the buildings and features were built by the CCC/WPA crews. But, now, almost 80 years later, it needs some love to keep it awesome for the next 80 years. I've been spending nearly all my time on it. This past weekend I worked on a sketchup/photoshop perspective for making one of the cabins accessible:


Of course, I'm not done with this yet... I need to add in people to the image.  While I was looking for an image of a happy active kid in a wheelchair to Photoshop into this image, I came across this and just simply had to share: Ramp fail and this ramp fail.

Here's another perspective I worked on the other day involves a new pedestrian bridge across a river that runs through one of the camps. 

I have 11 more days til my final presentation. I expect to be posting items as I complete them, so I might just actually update this poorly neglected blog more frequently.