What we do

LAEP Extension is actively involved in many types of LAEP Extension Activities, including design consultations at different scales. The help that Extension landscape architecture provides is not always in the form of master plans, big presentations, or months of design work. In many cases they provide helpful information to communities that may need additional expertise to solve issues through design. Extension landscape architecture can act as a sounding board for communities with design questions. Communities may not want or need a full design but are seeking recommendations. This resource is extremely valuable to communities. Design consultations may include recommendations of tree species for a downtown main street, alternative uses for a particular site (mixed use development, rather than a strip-mall, etc.), and approaches communities may employ while applying for grants. Addressing questions and tangible issues allows Extension landscape architecture to fulfill its Extension mandate through design consulting.

What is a Charrette?

Charrettes are periods of intense work towards a design solution and presentation deadlines are used to quickly and collaboratively generate design products, often alongside those who will ultimately use the built product of design. Teamwork and efficiency are critical in the process, especially in design studios and intense workshops. This collaboration process aims groups of designers toward achieving solutions in a short period of time. Extension LA routinely employs charrettes for projects involving community partners, students, and LAEP faculty. The Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Charrette is an annual, week-long, all-department collaborative design process that helps communities work toward solutions to real-life design problems. It gives students hands-on experience working with real clients, mentored by faculty and professionals. Each year, the department selects a site suitable for the design charrette. This is usually done at the request of communities that need the expertise the Landscape Architecture department provides. The department divides into teams with specific focus topics, such as open space, historic corridors, transportation, revitalization of the downtown, etc. Students and faculty do a site visit and use their skills and knowledge to develop creative solutions to the design challenges. After a week of creative problem-solving, students present their work to the client and discuss with them the solutions they derived from the design charrette. These charrettes provide students with valuable work that can be showcased in their portfolio as an example of their capabilities.

What is a Community Design Team (CDT)?

The LAEP Portfolio describes the characteristics of Community Design Team and its role in the education of LAEP students: The Community Design Team is an important part of Extension landscape architecture. The CDT was created through an Extension grant to provide planning and design support to communities throughout Utah and to create a key service-learning experience for LAEP students. Much like a professional office, the students prepare a scope of services, a schedule, and a cost recovery fee proposal for CDT clients, which adds a sense of obligation and seriousness to the work. Project designs and graphic images provide communication and fundraising tools that can lead to private consulting and the next phase of project development. In the 2015-16 academic year, more than 50 students signed up to work on a CDT team. The cost recovery fees collected helped fund the student chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Extension Work in Design Studios

Design Studios are fundamental to educating students of applied design disciplines. The LAEP design studios are collaborative, innovative, and creative work spaces. Each individual design studio is full of projects hanging on walls in various stages of progress. This exposure keeps the design process out in the open, allowing input from peers. This unanimity between studios encourages all to participate in the design process. The design studio atmosphere is an engaging realm of scholarship and research within landscape architecture. Extension projects that integrate into these studios provide excellent opportunities for students to participate in tangible projects and learn core principles in theory, design process, and sustainable practices, helping them respond to critical and emerging issues. Design studios help develop design strategies for students and build a foundation of knowledge for students to draw from.

Extension Personnel as Advisors

Extension landscape architecture also serves in an advisory role to the National Park Service, helping them prepare and plan for the future. There have been several projects completed over the years to help the National Park Service with transportation and planning for an increasing number of visitors. They have also helped identify and research gateway communities around National Parks. This research has helped NPS better understand the relationship between the gateway communities and the National Parks and how they affect each other.

Each of these landscape architecture Extension activities has contributed to communities all over the state of Utah. They provide service to the largest urban areas and the most rural communities, they utilize Utah’s large variety of landscapes, and they create unique teaching opportunities for LAEP extension.