Three students discuss landscape architecture courses at UD: youtube.com/watch?v=T7i3GwhKm8M
Pictures of Monica Moriak
August 15, 2022
UD’s coursework and research experiences help landscape architecture majors refine their post-graduation plans
As the caps were thrown and the acorns turned in late May, three University of Delaware seniors officially wrapped up their busy, yet highly rewarding, final semester in UD’s unique Bachelor of Landscape Architecture program.
After spending many hours in Townsend Hall’s senior design studio, Leigh Muldrow, Christopher Fettke von Koeckritz and DJ Bromley crossed the convening scene was a major milestone in their young careers in landscape architecture, a fascinating field to the intersection of art, plants, ecosystems and site design. The undergraduate experience of these new UD graduates has led to exciting graduate plans in Philadelphia, Oslo, and Newark.
All three Blue Hens completed an internship at UD’s Coastal Resilience Design Studio (CRDS), which focuses on the evolution of Delaware’s coastlines. The research group works with cities and towns to adapt to environmental changes. The experience showed them the unique and meaningful role that landscape architects can play in a community.
In the classroom, professors from the Department of Plant and Soil Science asked each senior to choose a site around the world for their capstone project. Muldrow was drawn to Seattle, Washington, and Fettke von Koeckritz landed in Kotzebue, Alaska; Bromley considered a broader subject, theoretically thinking of landscape architecture in a broad sense. Their experiences and original approaches to design resulted in three very different proposals.
The “Landscape of Decency” project by landscape architect Leigh Muldrow focused on the impacts of pollution in Georgetown, a Seattle neighborhood.
As a student returning to college to pursue a career change, Muldrow’s background in business and economics helped shape her decision to pursue landscape architecture. In her main project, she focused on soil toxicity and its impact on surrounding communities. Muldrow challenged the delicate conversations of telling people living in toxic environments the truth about their situation.
“In my case, it’s going to be designing this community-wide soil-sampling event in conjunction with Washington State and its toxicology department,” Muldrow explained. “We would provide soil data for their entire community so we could identify hotspots and then that would drive design implementation.”
Muldrow conducts ongoing research in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood, using community science data collection as a mechanism for environmental justice. Georgetown faces a tough fight against pollution, which Muldrow and his research team are analyzing with support from the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Thriving Earth Exchange. It focuses on the effects of pollution on the community and the nearby Duwamish River due to local factors like a large interstate rail yard and, most importantly, a nearby airport.
“The fact that piston engine aircraft still use leaded fuel, even though leaded fuel has been banned in every other way, really imposes an unfair, daily burden of exposure on this community to lead particles in airborne,” said Muldrow, a native of Milford, Delaware.
Muldrow was recently named the recipient of the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Olmsted Scholar Award for her work; the honor is awarded to students who demonstrate a commitment to landscape architecture, leadership, and the advancement of sustainable design.
In the fall, Muldrow will stay at UD to pursue a doctorate in plant and soil science.
Christopher Fettke von Koeckritz (right), pictured here with Professor Eric Bardenhagen, focused on the problems in Kotzebue, Alaska caused by climate change in his ‘Gateway into the Arctic’ project.
Like Muldrow, Fettke von Koeckritz studied the impact of landscape architecture on a community. He set his sights north, 26 miles above the Arctic Circle, where he sought solutions to the environmental challenges faced by Kotzebue, Alaska.
“Kotzebue is experiencing challenges exacerbated by climate change,” said Fettke von Koeckritz. “Alaska is the only coastal state in the United States that does not have an organized coastal management program.”
This project considered both the environmental impacts of these challenges and the impact on the people in the community. Fettke von Koeckritz investigated these questions; he wanted solutions that honored the community, its traditions and its people in a respectful way. He endeavored to tread lightly on the actual landscape while helping to solve the erosion problems caused on the barrier islands created from dredged material.
The project has taken him to another cold-weather destination – graduate school at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design in Norway, where he will gain hands-on experience researching arctic environments.
Fettke von Koeckritz is chomping at the bit to visit the Arctic in person with his Oslo professors and his cohort of graduates.
DJ Bromley (right), pictured here with former UD professor Jules Bruck, has focused on education and inequalities in landscape architecture in his project ‘Reevaluating Olmstead’.
While Muldrow and Fette von Koeckritz worked alongside specific communities, Bromley was curious about the bigger picture. How can landscape architects use their unique education to impact communities as a whole?
He observed entrenched patterns in the field that marginalize groups of people and perpetuate inequalities in society. The end result was a reassessment of the education system for landscape architects. Bromley urged the profession to continue to evolve its teaching.
Bromley’s technical adviser was Zachery Hammaker, a UD instructor and University of Pennsylvania graduate. Hammaker encouraged Bromley to apply for the Penn/Delaware Graduate Scholarship, a valued opportunity for landscape architecture majors to apply for Penn’s Master of Landscape Architecture program.
Bromley’s strong CV and portfolio earned him admission and a scholarship to the school’s prestigious three-year program.
“There are many practices, techniques and tricks in the field that have emerged [at Penn]so I’m really excited to be able to go there and study,” said Bromley, a native of Wilmington, Delaware.
Like the rest of their cohort, these UD Class of 2022 landscape architecture majors capitalized on hands-on research and design experiences while in Newark.
“There is something very special about having a landscape architecture program in a plant and soil science department in a graduate school of agriculture because we are very close to the earth,” said Jules Bruck, former UD professor and founding director of the Bachelor of Landscape. architectural program. “Our students place great value on the land; they understand the landscape on a deep level when they graduate because they get a really good education about it. »