Wednesday, June 15, 2022

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Jami Mattox | Agricultural Communications Services | 405-744-7063 | [email protected]

Students accustomed to working with colored pencils in quiet studios got their hands
dirty for a class project. Using power tools like drills, sanders, circular saws and
nail guns, landscape architecture students took their outdoor seating designs off
the paper and into the shop using reclaimed and recycled materials.

Qing Lana Luo, professor in the OSU Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, said her sustainable construction course is designed to give students a deep knowledge
of both the theory and practice of sustainable architecture.

“There are large-scale examples of environment re-use projects where landscape architects
will take a space, such as the underside of a highway overpass, and transform it into
a functional space like a skatepark,” Luo said. “In this class, we use a focused object
in manageable scale (outdoor seating), and students get to apply concepts they learned
earlier in the semester.”

Each student was tasked with designing a chair using retired materials, otherwise
known as used materials that can be repurposed to create a new product without harvesting
new raw materials. This umbrella term can refer to any material ranging from lumber
to metals and plastics.

Students voted on their three favorite designs, and the winning designers became team
captains who helped lead their classmates through the project.

Daisy Shadley, a landscape architecture junior and team captain, said it was a welcome
change of pace to trade her ruler and protractor for safety glasses and a tape measure. 

“I remember being scared of using power tools,” Shadley said. “My favorite part about
being a team captain was helping my classmates gain confidence so they could feel
the empowerment that power tools give you.”           

Jake McTee, a landscape architecture junior and team captain, said he had limited
knowledge on sustainable construction prior to taking the class, but is happy to have
gained the critical thinking skills necessary to design with sustainability in mind.

“The hardest part of the entire project was sorting through the retired materials
and selecting boards that could be repurposed without compromising quality,” McTee
said. “Even though building with used materials can present unique challenges, it’s
more rewarding to know you’ve created something useful while reducing environmental

Daisy Shadley with a partially finished project
Daisy Shadley was part of a team tasked with building outdoor seating for the OSU
College of Veterinary Medicine’s Centennial Garden using retired materials.

Beyond gaining an understanding of how sustainable practices can be implemented in
landscape architecture, Luo said students gain soft skills that will follow them into
their careers.

“I love seeing the great partnerships form in each group,” Luo said. “They help each
other problem solve and make design adjustments during the build.”

Connor Moses, a landscape architecture junior and team captain, said he was thankful
for the experience that came with leading a team.

“My biggest takeaway from this experience is that you should always trust your teammates,
regardless of their experience level,” Moses said. “The insight you can gain from
fresh eyes is invaluable.”

McTee said using primarily retired materials is what made this project creatively

“It’s very common in the industry to have a colleague that has something they’re going
to throw out or additional materials left over from a jobsite,” McTee said. “Professor
Luo encouraged us to go for those materials before buying new. Not only does that
keep the cost down for the client, but it also reduces jobsite waste and overall carbon

Shadley said it was refreshing to have a tangible final product because most of the
time, the final project for her classes is still just an illustration or landscape
plan on paper.

“It’s so rewarding as a student to see something you designed in class be brought
to life and implemented in the real world,” Shadley said. 

The outdoor seating projects are set to be installed at the OSU College of Veterinary
Medicine’s Centennial Garden (also known as the Toxic Plant Garden) once the revitalization project is completed.

Story By: Hunter Gibson

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